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5th running anniversary

It's been a weird week.

I've had a cold with an over 100 degree fever, yet still had a checkup at the doctor on Monday. Where they found I had high blood pressure that day (cold meds?), a slight and apparently normal heart murmur, and I'm being sent for a list of blood tests because...well, I'm old. Or, at least, I've reached the age where I've started getting lectured about things that could kill me. Something eventually will but fortunately nothing on the laundry list is immediate.

I could still probably eliminate some more processed foods from my diet, do a little better about working out during the off season, drink a little less alcohol. The irony is that I'm probably in the best shape of my life fitness-wise. Sure I'm carrying around a few extra pounds, but I certainly can do things in terms of athletic performance that I never could when I was young. Health is weird like that. I certainly don't expect my body to be a physical specimen of perfection.

While I was on my next-to-longest long run of the training cycle--17 miles on Sunday with just a 20 miler left in 2 weeks before I taper...and feeling pretty good, I might add--I realized it was my 5th anniversary of being back to running. High school sports doesn't count and as I've written about previously my 20's were mostly dedicated to non-athletic pursuits. So my resolution to run a marathon for turning 30 has blessedly turned into a (hopefully) lifelong passion for activity. With 5 marathons, an Olympic distance triathlon, and regular 25 mile bike rides under my belt, I have a totally different perspective on starting out in 2009.

I've needed to add new local neighborhoods to my route to get the mileage so Sunday took me towards my old haunts on the east side of town. Which meant I was on the same streets I was struggling on in 2009 as 2 miles felt like forever. I'd come home unable to figure out how I was going to do 26.2 let alone the 5k of my younger days.

Streets fly by now and I'm used to the achy muscle feeling. I know how to eat and drink so I recover faster. Each marathon I run, I feel a little less awful at the end even though I'm running faster. So my advice to those of you out there doing your first 26.2 in a few weeks...keep at it. If you haven't started running yet and are amazed at those around you who are doing these awesome feats...try it. We're not superhuman. There are more of us than ever so it's easy to find and relate to other runners. Sure, it's not for everybody but what if it is for you?

Don't go out too fast. Body Glide is your friend. Don't drink the sports drink until you need it in the later miles. At the start line, you'll see a thousand people doing things that you are not--ignore these people and run your own race. Do not try anything new on race day. Have a mantra for the back half when the miles get lonely and you're struggling. Take the foil blanket at the end even if you don't think you'll need it--nothing feels more like being a runner than being wrapped in a foil blanket post-race. I'll say it again, Body Glide is your friend--places you didn't think you needed it, too. Your toes, your heels, your nipples. Seriously, people...nothing is worse than sore nipples at Mile 19. Or Mile 12 for that matter. Get a Road ID if you don't have one and fill out your online medical info. Wear clothes to the start line that you don't mind throwing aside and leaving behind.

Most of all, what will keep you coming back race after race is realizing you just did something other people only dream about. Even if you're not Kenyan-like in your speed and you make it just before the course closes it was the same 26.2 for all of us. One day, you will not be able to do this. Your body will tell you no. Today is not that day.

Go run.