Thursday, February 14, 2013

What 61 Year Old Men Should Not Do, Part 2

In part 1, I said that 61 year old men should not lift heavy objects. In part 2, I proclaim that they should not attempt to hang with younger runners during a long run.  (That being said, I have a 66 year old neighbor that recently ran a 3:15 marathon).

Picture this - you arrive, in pre-dawn light, at the park to run with some friends.  At 61, you are the oldest by 15-20 years - and in some cases by nearly 30 years.  You'll all be doing an ten miler together, and this time, by God, you're going to hang in there right with them.  You've been training hard by yourself so you can hope to keep up.  You set your Garmin to beep every mile, do some dynamic stretching together, and step out for the run.  It is cool but not cold - perfect weather for a run.

Your Garmin beeps - one mile down at an easy warm up pace.  It beeps again.  Two miles already?  This doesn't seem bad.  But the warm up is over, and the leader picks up the pace a bit.  When the Garmin beeps a third time, you are starting to struggle - just a bit.  Everyone else seems fine.  Ah, the joys of youth!

Just after the fourth beep, you start to climb a steep hill.  You labor, but everyone else also slows a step.  Your legs hurt even so.  Man, whoever talked about a runner's high?  What, was he some moron, or just a really sadistic SOB?  The only thing high is this hill you're climbing.  As you reach the top, your Garmin beeps for a fifth time, and the terrain levels off.  Despite gasping like a chain smoker who is trying to breathe through a straw, you feel proud.  You just climbed a one mile hill, and you kept up with the younger crowd.  And this ten miler is now just a five miler.

As your Garmin beeps for the sixth time, any feeling of pride or euphoria is long gone.  You are staggering a bit.  You are shuffling your feet.  Everything below the waist is hurting. Your lungs feel like a pod of great blue whales sucked most of the oxygen out of the air in this particular part of town.  Everyone else seems fine - running at a smooth pace, chatting happily, talking about what they did last night or what their plans are for Saturday night.  None of them are staggering.  None of them are shuffling.  None of them are gasping for air like a fish flopping around on shore.

At mile seven, you are dying.  You see a branch in the path ahead about the diameter of a large pencil, and attempt to jump over it.  Instead, you trip and nearly fall.  What the hell?  You can't jump over something that is an inch thick?  "I - can't - do - this!" you gasp to yourself through labored breaths.  Your heart sounds like a motorcycle with no muffler.  Your legs feel like you have just run a mile through thigh deep water.  Self doubt invades your brain.  Why, oh why, did you ever take up running?  Other 61 year old men are still in bed, and if they are not, they are moving 20 feet into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.  What were you thinking?  You glance with envy at your younger friends, all moving as easily as deer along the path.

The Garmin beeps an eighth time.  Eight miles down, two miles to go.  Well, at least the miles are going by fast.  You glance at the timer for the first time.  20 minutes and 12 seconds have gone by.  Your oxygen starved and addled brain attempts some math.  "Let's see, 20 roughly divided by 8, let's see, that is like 2, carry the 4 (or is is a 5), so let's see, that is like a 2.5 or so minute mile pace.  That's pretty fast, isn't it?  Wait a minute!  Even Pre or Marty Liquori never could run a 2 or 3 minute mileNo wonder I'm exhausted."    You slow to a near-stop and study the Garmin for a few seconds.  With the same sense of horror you would have had you just discovered a worm crawling out of your nose, you realize that you inexplicably set the Garmin to beep every quarter mile, not every mile.  "So let's see, 8 times 1/4 is 2, carry the zero - no, wait, it's just two.  Two?  Two miles?  Just two stinking miles?  Oh, crap!" 

You deliberately step on your shoe lace, unraveling it.  You call out, "Hey guys! I have to tie my shoe and stretch a cramp.  Keep going - I'll catch up to your group, but not real soon."  At least that's what you try to say, but through your labored breaths, what they hear is: "Hey - tie - my - cramp - I'll catch up - your - but - soon."  Your friends turn, all with puzzled expressions.  You're doubled over, pretending to check something with your foot, but actually trying not to hurl.  You give them a thumbs up, and gasp "Keep going.  I'll catch up."  They shrug and resume the run, at a little slower pace.  Now, you know and they know that you could not catch them if they were going to give you a million dollars should that happen. There is a better chance that you will spot an abominable snow man while climbing Mount Everest in your underwear than the chances of you catching them. Maybe if you turn and start walking back now, you might get back to the starting point before they go the remaining eight miles.

And that's when you admit, if only to yourself, that 61 year old men should not attempt to run with younger runners!


Elayne said...

Hey there Art! I laughed through this whole post! I would be one of those "younger runners" but I promise I'd be tying my shoe right there with you!!

Was good to hear from you on my blog, thanks for keeping up with me :)
Your Texas Pal~ Elayne

Racn4acure said...

I am glad you enjoyed me poking a little fun. Glad you are hanging in there Elayne.