Why I Want To Run a Marathon by Andy Winnegar

In 2007 my wife talked me into writing a story for an Albuquerque Journal contest. The winner would get a free membership to Albuquerque Fit, a 14 week run-walk program. Winning the contest was a life changer. I had been overtraining for years. My injuries and a progressive disk disorder had prevented me from getting to a marathon start line. Now in my late 50’s I was injury free and ready to try again. Here is the story.
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Why I Want To Run a Marathon by Andy Winnegar

I am 57 years old. I was born and raised in Albuquerque. I have been running sixteen to twenty miles a week for at least 20 years.

Most recently I have been running with my Britney Spaniel—Tommy. Tommy provides me with companionship and I provide him with the opportunity to scent the neighborhood. One day I was running on the Santa Fe Rail Trail near my house and tripped on a tree root. It was one of those slow motion falls where you watch yourself going down. When I looked up Tommy was standing over me protecting me from any predators that might come my way. What a dog!

Tommy also helps me with interval or fartlek (speed play) training. This occurs whenever a person or dog is within his sight, smell or hearing distance. Although, I am not able to determine when or where this will happen, I have been able to take advantage of these unique training opportunities. He just takes off and pulls me with him.

I have discovered a new technique for running with a dog, which might help other dog owners. I use a thin luggage strap around my waist secured to the leash. I position the strap a little above my hips. Rather than being jerked by the arm, my hands are free to provide balance and energy. I am pulled from the center of my body, and my hips are directly under my upper body.

My wife Judy and I have been runners since 1980. We taught our kids to run starting around age 2. We have even taken running vacations many times to places like Stanley Park, in Vancouver BC, just to run the 8 mile seawall.

Interestingly and accidentally, we have run with the senior President George H.W Bush twice. Once in Portland Oregon, when he was Vice President we noticed around the track we were ending our run on there were men in suits standing as we passed. I said, “What’s going on?” No response. Then here comes the Vice President with a young pretty runner by his side. Later we learned it was the Mayor of Portland’s daughter.

A few years later we were running in Kennebunkport, Maine and we passed one another again and going in opposite directions. At the time, I was running bent over at the waist due to a back injury. He said “Are you alright?” as we passed. I admired his commitment to running. He was an inspiration to me really.

I love to run. I like to train and I want to run a marathon.

Postscript

I talked my friend Kurt Steinhaus into also joining ABQ Fit and traveling with me to Albuquerque at 5 AM on Saturdays for the 14 weeks of training. I ran the Humboldt Redwood Marathon in October, 2007 with wife Judy who ran the half marathon. Surprisingly I placed 3rd in my age group with a 4:01. I have run in 15 marathons since then finishing 10. I PR’ d twice with the same time of 3:38 at age 61 and 62 at the California International Marathon. Tommy died at age 12 in 2012.

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