OMG - I'm going to Boston!
My first marathon was the Wineglass Marathon last fall, at the age of 60. After running several half marathons, I felt I owed it to myself to do at least one full marathon, even though I always said I would never run a full. The decision to run a full marathon wasn’t easy. I think I asked every Fleet Feet Syracuse runner about his or her experience; no one had a negative response. They were all surprised I hadn’t done one yet and everyone, including my coaches, encouraged me to go for it. So I signed up for the Wineglass Marathon and started training.
The training went very well, despite some grueling, hot Sunday long runs. I got through it with the support of my coaches and team. Race day came and I was super anxious, thinking “Why am I doing this, didn’t I say I was never going to run a marathon?!” I was able to calm myself down by repeating, “TRUST YOUR TRAINING” over and over. Once the race started, my jitters disappeared and I let my training do its work.
I had an amazing race! I felt great through the entire race, though I kept waiting for the dreaded wall that I had been warned about but it never happened. I attribute that to my excellent training. Highlights of the Marathon include my Fleet Feet family cheering for me at bridge (only 2 miles left!), Coach Michele’s encouraging words and urges not to stop and hug friends (“you can do that later”), Coach Steve running me in and of course, crossing the finish line and realizing I had finished under 4 hours. I qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2020, with over 20 minutes to spare.
Qualifying for the Boston Marathon was never on my radar. I didn’t even know what the qualifying time for my age group was until someone told me I would probably qualify and I looked it up and realized it might be doable. I’m now super excited to run another marathon.
Running is not new for me. I have always been a runner, though I was mostly a seasonal runner and my long runs were only 4 to 5 miles with the occasional 5K race. Being Norwegian, my idol is, of course, Grete Waitz, a Norwegian marathon runner. I used to see her running in a park in Oslo on my way to work early in the mornings.
My daughters have run half marathons and encouraged me to run one, but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with osteopenia that I took running to the next level. I had a bone density test and was shocked to find out that I had pre-osteoporosis, also called osteopenia, in my hips and spine. My doctor told me to exercise more, but I was already exercising most days of the week, including weight lifting - what more could I do?! At the time I was obsessed with spinning, but switched to running after I was told running is better for your bones. Pounding on the pavement helps increase bone mass. That was enough of a reason for me to start running more. Shortly after, I decided to start training for my first half marathon. I downloaded a training plan and started running.
I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2014 and loved it, and wanted more. My goal was to find a running group that could help me stay motivated to run year round. I signed up for a Fleet Feet speed workout class in 2015, and was hooked. Fleet Feet Running Club was exactly what I was looking for. Now I’m an annual Fleet Feet Running Club Member. Thanks to Fleet Feet’s outstanding running program and the most supportive and motivational coaches and members, I finished my first marathon!
A little more on postmenopausal osteoporosis: literally meaning “porous bone,” it results in an increased loss of bone mass and strength.1 The disease often progresses without any symptoms or pain. Generally, osteoporosis is not discovered until weakened bones cause painful fractures (bone breakage) usually in the back (causing chronic back pain) or hips.1 I had no symptoms, and since I regularly exercised and lifted weights, I didn’t think I was at risk. The main reason is that I became Vitamin D deficient during menopause and I believe that contributed to the bone loss. So fellow runners please make sure you get enough Vitamin D, especially living in upstate NY, we all need to take daily Vitamin D supplements. The other risk factors for osteoporosis include genetics, environmental risks, low body mass, low calcium, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, inadequate physical activity, and obesity.1
My second bone density test two years later showed improvement in the bone density in my hips and spine. I am very happy with the results and give credit to running. It is another motivation to keep running, lifting weights, and making sure I take daily Vitamin D and calcium to keep my bones strong and prevent fractures.
A little more on my inspiration Grete Waitz: she became the first woman in history to run a marathon in under two and a half hours. She won New York City Marathon nine times. Grete ran the Boston Marathon once in 1982. She was on 2:23 pace when she had to withdraw at mile 24 due to severe muscle pain. She never returned to race Boston. Sadly, she passed away from cancer at age 57.2
I ran Grete’s Gallop in Central Park, a 10K race named after her, and got to meet her. She will be in my thoughts when I run Boston Marathon next spring, though my goal will not be to match her pace, but to enjoy and finish the race.
Here is one of my favorite quotes from Grete: “In addition to the well-known benefits of health and well-being derived from exercise, there are other unique advantages to being a runner. You are more attuned to not only your body but also the world around you. The outdoor life you lead as a runner gives you a special relationship with your surroundings: nature, the climate, the seasons. As you depend on these things to accommodate your activity, you grow to understand and appreciate them.”2
Thanks for reading and for all the support! Boston Marathon 2020 - here I come!