90 Miles and Onward

Since returning to running at age 65, following a 12-year hiatus, on October 6, 2022, I have accumulated 90 miles and feel very good about that. My weight loss journey started a little more than a month before that as I waited for the temperatures to settle into a comfortable range here in southern Nevada. But as of today, I am down 31 pounds with about 60 more to go.

Knowing that I will cross my first 100 miles marker next week has me pretty stoked, even though my pace is still slow and my recoveries long.

There is a Christian rock band, Kutless, that I listen to from time to time. One of their best songs, “What Faith Can Do,” has the following line in its lyrics. It goes like this: It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, impossible is not a word. It’s just a reason for someone not to try.

They are words that frequently cross my mind while I am running. Here I am running again. Here I am accomplishing things that some people have told me are impossible for someone like me…someone at my age and my weight. My own primary care physician told me not to run when I talked to him a couple of years ago about starting up again. He made it clear that running is the worst thing I can do.

No. The worst thing I can do is nothing.

So, on the subject of IMPOSSIBLE, I have included the video from Kutless for you to enjoy.

Starting Again

It is obvious by the title of this post that I have been here before.

I was a late bloomer when it came to running. I was 53 years old, and in less than great health, though at the time I didn’t realize just how poor my health was. I was carrying around 320 pounds of hamburgers and hotdogs of which 100 pounds rapidly disappeared over the course of the first year as I hibernated in the athletic club and soon after took up running.

I really didn’t know anything about running and fitness, putting myself on a rather strict caloric diet (eating just about anything, but much of it processed and not good for me) and becoming friends with the stair-climber, stationary bike, and the treadmill.

The Life Fitness 95T (This was the panel I stared at for countless hours until I finally got the courage to get outside and start running.)

A great treadmill, but boy was I glad to get out into the fresh air. I never looked back.

But in spite of my ignorance of all things fitness-related, results began to show. As the weight loss resisted but eventually fell, my running time and distance, first on the treadmill and then the great outdoors began to climb. Even today, though it has been a dozen years or so ago, I can still remember the feeling of elation and accomplishment I felt as mileage markers fell by the wayside. The first times that I ran one mile, two miles, three miles, and so on were just as thrilling as when I first ran ten, twelve, and twenty miles. As the total miles ran began to stack up, I really fell in love with running.

But it couldn’t last.

The impact of the economy in 2010 and the loss of my job, forced us to look elsewhere, to look north. Our move to Oregon came at the encouragement of my sister and soon, we were out of the Las Vegas desert and into the plush green farmland of the Willamette Valley. There we remained for the better part of a year before making our move to the coast. My running continued to thrive in the farmland. The addition of the farmland, the cows and goats, as well as all of the trees, pushed me on. My running, quickly acclimated to the new surroundings, and once again, I felt the love of running.

But then a leg injury occurred and a move to the coast. The narrow highways, the strong winds, and the nearly constant horizontal rain dampened my running desires. Getting laid off again also weighed heavily as I was forced to enter an entirely new field, requiring more and more of my time.

The running stopped.

The pounds came back with a vengeance.

A discovery was made in the process. I was a diabetic. Great.

Jump ahead a dozen years or so, and I find myself starting again. Though I am a dozen years older, I realize that I am a bit wiser than when I was running before. I am better equipped to handle my nutrition and keep all my numbers in check, literally driving my diabetes into oblivion.

Looking back into the past, I read magazine articles, and books, and watched all sorts of movies and videos when it came to running. I did it for inspiration, I did it for motivation. One of those early books was, “The Courage to Start,” by John “The Penguin” Bingham. It was such a great help and I embraced it fully, becoming an early penguin runner myself.

Now, at 65, I am also even more comfortable now running a pace that is my pace. So I embrace my penguin-hood, less interested in my pace (though I know that as time goes on, it will improve, at least somewhat), focusing instead on the joy of the run and my goals of running farther than have ever run before.

My restart has included rowing as a staple of my exercise and I am slowly bringing in dumbbells and kettlebells into the mix. I am exploring leg and body strengthening exercises to help with my endurance, cadence, and speed. But mostly, I am enjoying the run, thankful that at my age, and after all these years, I have already penguined my way through more than forty miles in my first month. I thank God for it.