In 2004, I was still able to compete fairly well as a 43 year old. I believe my finish at the Lakefront Marathon on low mileage showed I still had what it took to compete. I trained very hard after that and still was able to win a 10k at a turkey trot in Pennsylvania against a few people who I used to rumble against up to 25 years earlier. Possibly one of my most favorite wins ever. It was cool having people coming up to me afterwards saying they remember me when I competed locally back in the 70s and early 80s. The reality was I ran slower (not much) than 25 years ago, but the competition had weakened unbeleivably. Racing and training with the young guys in Milwaukee taught me so much. Believe it or not, true story, I remember Ryan at the Trailbreaker half in 2002 just taking it to the field. If your going to beat me your going to have to man up. I knew Ryan, I competed against him. His effort broke the field and though he was shot the last couple miles we could not close the gap. I ran a mid to low 17 5k the last part and could not close anything. I was 40 and ran a PR that day. I would go on to run a 2:40:56 at Boston chip time 23 days later. His effort was well earned and he was not in “Ryan” shape. That day in Pennsylvania, I approached that race the same way. Lets get out the first couple miles in 10:xx something and see if you can catch me through the hills I grew up on.
By early 2005 my body changed. Problems my family had found me. Talk to Liver Legs, she had one of the same problems I had. I dropped off the planet. I still was able to “kill” myself and run a 2:53 at Lakefront, but I was running on fumes. I couldn't recover. It got worse. I was running hours slower at Ice Age. I was 20-25 pounds heavier. I ran until it landed me in intensive care. My mental attitude was the same, but I could not come close to doing the same things. I went from a 27:03 5k at Al's at 43 to 31 – 33 range in a year or two.
I don't have the same tools. I'm huge. I break down easily. I am not the same guy. I am at the Doctor 1-2 times a month trying to deal with stuff. The good news is it is not life threatning. It is normal thyroid issues and myloprolific blood disorder stuff. I am basically normal….but I will never be the same. Chronic diseases don't go away…you just live with them. You hope good science and medication will allow you to eventually find a “sweet spot.” When able, I can still churn out 50-60 miles a week, but 2-3 minutes slower a mile. You accept it. My friends still call, they still love me, they still want to run occasionally. You just accept where you are at. Heck, I am young. I am 46 and I still think the day will come were I can break 3 for a marathon.
I still over train, hell I hurt myself recently. Still pushing, looking for a break through took me beyond my capacity. I'll probably be 190 at Ice Age, and have no mileage for 2 months, but I'll probably be there. It's a bigger challenge finishing now, rather than trying to break 7 hours. I'm not venting as much as I am stating fact. I'm hoping to hit the track this summer and try and break 31 at Al's. If it's 32-34 who cares the guys still put me on the team. I laugh just as hard at the stories as I did before. I still feel a big part of the team. Hell, we're not parachuting into Nam' tomorrow. It's a good time.
I still have people ask for advice. I have no inkling why, but just run everyday. Run everyday if you can. Hell, run twice a day if your serious. It's all aerobic activity. Does anyone realize that most of the races we run are based on you aerobic level? Run faster when you feel good. Man, if your tired take it easy. Once a corvette, your always a corvette. If you have wheels and you run a lot, you get faster. I only took 2-3 months out of the year to hit the track. That's what you do in the Summer. It's track season man, go be somebody. Why are 4 hour marathoners doing speedwork? It freakin' baffles me. Be a runner first. I've ran larger workouts in the morning in one day than your whole week of training.
Who here in Wisconsin didn't see or hear the Favre retirement speech. As semi-serious runners, didn't you see some of yourself in that? Obviously not to his degree, but hey, we have chased dreams for a decade or so. Didn't a lot of us? Dude your getting old? Come join us. Brett is out there with some of us now.