When I started running seriously several years ago, I never dreamed I’d get hooked on marathons – let alone in foreign countries! Yet there I was, lined up at the start of the Rome Marathon on March 20, feeling that strange mix of pre-race excitement and anxiety. To say that this wasn’t on my screen a few years ago is an understatement: I was happy, at first, just to make it the 2.8 miles around Green Lake in a half an hour.
But the more I ran, the more I wanted to run. I’d never been athletic as a younger man, but lo and behold, at almost 60 – discovered that there was an “inner jock” inside the whole time, just waiting for me to give him the chance to run free. At first, I set my sights on a 10-k; then a Half Marathon. And another. Before long, I was wondering: could I actually complete a whole marathon?
The first one (Vancouver) wasn’t pretty, as I followed someone off-course for two miles and ended up running 28 miles, collapsing in a heap at the finish. Since then, however, my times have improved (I won’t even tell you where I started, but I had a PR in Rome of 4:47) due to two things: great training and determination, or “pure stubbornness”.
I credit my first trainer, Jared Weigand, and my first running coach and mentor, Tim Koffler, with sparking my interest, and helping me find a deep belief in myself. I currently work with Joel Mitchell, who has kept me on track (pun intended) to improve my times by improving my conditioning. I like my training regimen; it’s the time I spend with myself, lost in my own thoughts, listening to music, or just enjoying the scenery. Joel has structured it so that I can improve my times and my endurance – very important in long-distance running. Could I do it on my own? Yes, but not with the results I’m getting with a trainer.
Rome was the race of a lifetime a sunny day with big puffy clouds and ideal temperature, and a cooling breeze. The race takes you through a different era in human history every mile. From the Colloseum to the monument honoring the unification of Italy to the Vatican to the touristed areas of the Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain, this race has a beautiful course and gentle, forgiving changes in elevation. The race motto was “start your dreams”. And I say, once you start, keep them going!