Running a (Half) Marathon

February 03, 2013

I’ve never been much of a bucket list person, I tend to limit my focus on a goal rather than goals. I can’t imagine enough interesting things to do at any one time to make a long list of life pursuits and generally my current obsession is something I never could have imagined doing the day before I decided I Must Do This.

Such has been running of late. The only reason I wasn’t incredibly overweight as a kid was because I got winded walking to the refrigerator. The athletic activities I did enjoy — swimming, tennis, baseball infielder — don’t exactly require much running. Even later in life as I became an avid hiker, my interest was more about the leisurely lack of progress through some woods than the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other journey to an end. And yet, last weekend I found myself finishing off a half marathon.

Because I usually jump into the deep end, the bucket list goal was (and still is) a full marathon. I started running last July for no reason other than it was something I’d never done before and after a local 10k race in October, wasn’t sure I’d take it any further. Then a friend suggested we train for the Napa marathon in March. The event was 16 weeks away and Runkeeper had a 16 week marathon training program. Let’s do it!

Except it turns out that 47 year old bodies take some time to get used to the pounding of long distance running — at least mine did. After eight weeks of gradually increasing my training to over 30 miles a week, I had hurt ankles and knees, had lost two toenails and was just generally a wreck. I had built up the aerobic capacity to go the distance, but it was clear that my bones and joints needed a lot more time to get there.

So last week I readjusted my sights and ran the Kaiser Permanente Golden Gate Park half marathon. I was just getting over the flu but still managed to come close to my target time (I ran it slightly over 2:17 instead of under 2:15 as I hoped). I have run quicker 13.1 miles during my marathon training, but this was about finishing and enjoying myself not about pacing.

As I saw my body slowing me down a few weeks ago, I realized this race was the achievement of a different bucket list item and my newest obsession — not giving up on something just because it hurts. Aging is a bitch and random soreness is my new reality. But that’s OK, I now know I can handle it.

The nice thing about creating a bucket list on the fly is that it becomes infinitely long and always relevant. After all, life isn’t about checkboxes anyway.


This post first appeared at

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