I am a marathoner finisher! At 67 years old, I ran and completed my first marathon on December 4, 2016. There was a range of emotions from elation to complete physical and emotional exhaustion. I asked myself what made this possible and probably more importantly, why at my age? As I reflect back, I think I needed the focus of a goal and structure in my day. I also realized I gained so much more! After retirement from a successful professional career and raising my sons, I’m still not quite into my next venture (Lesson: There’s always a next venture!).
Most importantly, it restored my confidence from the inside-out. Throughout my life, I’ve derived confidence from my accomplishments, what I did, or through others’ perception of me. This marathon was solely all mine from the inside out. Some people seem to be born with innate confidence or somehow got it early on–that wasn’t me. Over the years though, I’ve adapted ways of filling that confidence well deep inside. It is full and brimming over today.
Finishing this race has given me greater confidence about challenging myself at this age in life with something I’ve never done before and much more insight into myself and my capabilities.
A women I met at the pre-race breakfast had a her mantra written on her hand. I loved it. It became my final miles mantra.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Here’s what happened….and what I learned.
- I began race running and ran my first 1/2 marathon at age 60 (hence the title of this blog). At that time, I honestly believed 13.1 miles was plenty and all I could manage at “my age”. I love this distance, the long weekend runs and the focus at a time in my life. I never considered I’d run a full marathon. (Lesson: Most of my our limits are self-imposed and self-limiting. )
- Fast forward to now, I’ve run 15 half-marathons, many 5k and 10k races, as well as hundreds of miles each year, either alone or with my running group. I look back on the thousands of small steps and every step moved me forward towards the finish. (Lesson: Know where your feet are pointed and keep stepping in the directions you want to go.)
- In early 2015 at a friend’s nudging, I registered for a marathon. About a month before the race, I decided I just couldn’t do it for a variety of reasons, so I dropped out and got a deferral for 2016. A few months later I analyzed what went wrong in my first attempt and decided to fix it. (Lesson: Figure how why you “failed” and then fix it—no blame, no guilt. Embrace those mistakes, just means fewer you’ll make going forward.)
- I signed up with a running group soon thereafter. I needed a community to support and understand the “runners mind”, vocabulary, and to get up and run with on Saturday mornings. Almost everyone in the group has what I call normal body types, (not the long lean runner’s look), several were close to my age, and most all had finished a marathon in recent years. Now it felt very possible and it was up to me to make it probable. Lew’s Walk ‘n Run program was about overall fitness and preparation, led by a wonderfully supportive coach, Lew Cramer. My running pals, along with my son and husband were also cheering for me at the finish line. (Lesson: Find like-minded people to join you on the journey—this essential and great fun! And if you’re lucky like I was, they are there rooting for you at the end!
- Lew was very encouraging, gave me a plan, and encouraged me all along the way. In April, I committed to the California International Marathon–CIM Sacramento in December. I worked the plan, showed up to most all group sessions and the longer weekend runs. (Lesson: Simple steps to finishing: Decide. Trust a Plan. Show up. Do the plan.)
- I read books which were practical, encouraging and real. (Lesson: Books are helpful, but you still need to do the work.)
- I was prepared and ran a good race in a beautiful area I’ve never been with my simple goal: to finish! And I did! (Lesson: Run your own race at your own pace and be sure to enjoy the journey along the way.)