I was riding the ski lift in Taos on February 15, 2016 with a 60-year-old ski instructor, and a couple from Ontario who were 67 and 65. The couple had slept in their RV parked at the ski basin and were sharing with us how cold it was during the night. They were wondering why they had slept up at the parking lot at the basin, as it was very similar to the temperatures and conditions they were trying to escape from in Canada. The RV was lacking the conveniences of home and the comfort of sleeping in their own beds.

The conversation moved on to various recreational activities, mountain biking, running and aggressive skiing and why each of us continue to torture ourselves. The ski instructor who works fulltime running his own business in town said he only comes up to the basin to instruct on holidays. He said it is a shame how many folks come up to the mountain to ski and end up sitting in the bar, because they are so out of shape from sitting at work. He said most don’t have the time or motivation to get in shape and cannot reach their skiing goals during their short vacations. I shared that since I started running marathons I have been so afraid I might get injured skiing that I don’t take enough chances, although I am in better shape now at 66 than when I was younger.

The instructor said he gave up 20 years of marathon running for just that reason. He didn’t think his knees would hold up. He said, he misses the excitement of getting ready for the marathon and the training, but now he uses his biking and skiing to replace the running. He said he still has to continue to work on core training, as his hamstring and quads get tight from skiing just as they did from running. Something that I have long known is that I have signed up for marathons as a motivational ploy, to stay in shape yet, I don’t really like going to races.

Although I like competition, I am not thrilled with paying the race-entry fees, travel costs and everything else. It even bothers me trying to pin my bib on straight. Getting ready for a race, for me, always involves a lot of worrying-everything from catching a cold, making flights, picking up the rental car, getting lost in a new city and getting to the starting line in the early morning on time.

In my last race, I seemed to have even lost the drive to win my age group, although that was why I was there in the first place. Although the two old guys in front of me were within my reach, I knew once I passed them I would have to race the last mile in. I no longer cared if I was first or third.

There are many runners I know and admire that have a great time at marathons or other races­competition or not. They seem to sign up once a month for something. They are happy to complete 26.2 miles, adding another race to their list of race accomplishments. They share their race bling on Facebook and seem to enjoy all aspects of participating: picking up race packets and adding new shirts to their collections. Some are competitors and some just like the social activity that goes with a running event.

Once I am running in at race, and if it is at my preferred pace and only after a few miles, I will start enjoying the race too. It is relaxing and meditative and I drift off not thinking at all or thinking how I might trick myself out of a slump to get going again. On the other hand, if I am in a race, I am generally focused on my time and speed and unless I am distracted by a friend or someone engaging me in conversation, I won’t talk to anyone at all. So as of today I am training just to train. I will see how I feel continuing to run and train, but without the race as a goal. As a first step I canceled my Mt. Charleston Half Marathon planned for this May.

training to train

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The Canyon City Marathon from the San Gabriel Mountains to Azusa LA County California on November 7th was my last marathon.

I placed 3rd for my age group: 3:56:40.

I have run in 15 of these 26.2 mile torture tours since a little before my 58th birthday.

I agreed to run the Chicago Marathon October 11 2015 with my daughter-her first marathon.

I had thought we would not get in, because it was a lottery.

To my surprise Shawna and I were selected for Chicago.

On the train ride from the airport I notice my elbow was swollen. It looked like a foot, but was not in pain.

Andy Elbow

We learned it was bursitis at Northwestern Medical Center emergency room. Nothing serious, but the doctors attempts to drain it did not work.

We walked over 5 miles that day not eating dinner till 8:30 pm. That is not best thing to do the day before a marathon.

I dropped out of the race at mile 14. It was getting warm, in the high 60’s, and I assumed it would get hotter, which it did, and the thought of the elbow was still hanging over me.

I thought I would run a faster race in my downhill marathon at Canyon City if I did not run two marathons a month apart.

I have no problem dropping out of races. I have never run races to count the number I finish. I run to beat my personal record (PR) from my recent races.

I had a blast at Chicago and my daughter had a good race with a 3:06.

Andy and Shawna Chicago Marathon

One of her friends ran a 3:05, but ended up in the hospital with hypothermia. Her temperature had reached 105 after the race and in the medical tent they lowered it with an ice bath, but her body didn’t reach a normal temperature until 5 hours after the race ended.

When she got back to our room, she said “it was my best race ever!”

It is funny and scary how runners think.

Running marathons in the heat, which is anywhere from 60 to 90 plus degrees depending on the humility, requires some adjustment in your pace.

If you are running all out, even in your 20’s, as my daughter and her friends were, you can have some pretty severe health effects.

Downhill running for me provides an extra push. Also, with only a couple of weeks until I turn 66, I need all the help I can get.

I was able to PR at the Big Cotton Half Marathon and downhill race in September 2014, winning my age group with a 1:37:02. That was beating my personal best in my mid 40’s.

I didn’t have the same confidence this year. I was not able to sleep the night before worrying about the predicted mid-70 temperatures in Azusa. The fear of both the race pain and of potential injury, and the after race need to get back to the hotel, shower and get to my flight, kept me awake.

It took me most of the night to rationalize and find solutions to these negative emotions.

I was up at 3 am to get to the buses by 4 am. Somehow the motivation to beat my personal best had dimmed and now I was only interested in surviving the race. I was thankful it was my last marathon.

The bus ride up to the top of the mountain was not without an incident. The driver hit a large rock, but managed to correct and stay on the road.

There were significant cliffs and drop offs on the side of the road. It appeared that she was not that familiar with steep mountain driving.

I already had my seat belt on and advised everyone “put on your seat belts”.

Someone called out, “it will be alright.” At the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon, the bus driver was nodding off. I kept talking to him to keep him awake. Near the top of the mountain, the bus in front of us got stuck trying to make the last sharp turn.

We were shuttled up on the bus in front of the jammed bus and the start of the race was delayed.

I joined the 3:40 pace group for Canyon City.

Andy with Pace Group Canyon City

Andy moving closer Canyon City

Andy in front Canyon City

I would be running at slower pace than my 3:37 PR goal time. My pace leader was talkative and she over raced the pace by 2 minutes in the first 2 miles. She took me with her.

She later tried to slow the pace of the group, but the damage was done.

A marathon that you run too fast at the beginning doesn’t generally end that well, as the first 2 miles are the important ones to slow the pace. This is not that much, maybe only 15 to 45 seconds. It does however make a real difference in the race outcome.

When I stopped for a long bathroom break before the hills 14 to 21, I knew my race was over.

I ended with a 3:56:50 and was happy I had finished. It is a hard race, but pretty.

I made it back to Santa Fe by 10 pm that night. It had been a long day.

Finishing Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

Place, Overall Place, Gender, Age, Bib #, Last Name
218, 124, 1, M, M60-64, 8563, Winnegar

First Name, Sex, Age, Chip Time, Pace (min/mile)
Andy, M, 64, 1:37:02.82, 7:24

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2014 Boston Marathon — No Looking At My Watch

May 22, 2014

Boston Marathon Race Details: Luckily I found Sam in the hotel elevator the night before the race. I didn’t have any safety pins for my bib. I ran with Hilary who had asked earlier that we run by feel; although, I had done this last year, feeling my foot for 7 miles. Hilary didn’t want […]

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Big Cottonwood Marathon – Sept 14, 2013

September 17, 2013

Today is the marathon. It’s 2 am and I’m heading downstairs to the lobby to grab a banana. I’m kicking myself for not buying one yesterday and worried they may run out if I wait. The hotel van will take runners at 3 am and 4 am to the bus pickup location. The bus driver […]

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My Boston Marathon Experience – April 15, 2013

April 28, 2012

I believe I was the first injured person out of 27K runners at the 2013 Boston Marathon at mile 7, which is impressive. Yet, I started the marathon injured. My daughter tried to get me to walk the rest of the race, but the staff wouldn’t let me leave the medical station. I believe my […]

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