As I approached a significant birthday, I realized that I have been a runner longer than I was not. I started running when I turned 30, depressed by the fact that I was divorced for 5 years already and not getting married and having more kids.
To feel better, I began running around my apt building, then two buildings and then the complex. Soon I was out on the streets running an occasional 5 or 10k and once in a while, a 10 miler. Running was my mental health time. It was the only time I was ever alone. I loved the quiet and solitude. It revitalized me and I knew that if I could complete whatever distance I was running that day, I could do anything else that was expected of me too. Running boosted my self-confidence as well as gave me something real and healthy to do with my son.
Fast forward to the year I was 49. I reflected upon the start of my running & realized that I had told myself that "someday I will run a marathon." This was the year.
I trained from January to October. Then my dad died the week before. I went into the race drained but determined. I finished and knew that I could do better.
For my 50th birthday, I scheduled a trip to Las Vegas to run again. My friends, my son and his friends and my mom and her friends (16 people) all came along. I did run better and even qualified for Boston!
Two months later, I ran there and then I was truly bitten by the marathon bug. I began to run races to which I could drive or visit with friends. While visiting with a childhood friend and into my marathon quest for about 3 years, I sat with Jill's husband & we wrote all of my marathons on a napkin. Then we counted the states. I decided that just maybe I could go on and run one in each state of the US.
While doing so, I truly stretched and grew as a person. I tent camped with my neighbor to Wyoming and back, pulled an all-nighter in an airport in New Mexico, shared motel rooms with more people than a college student, reunited with old friends, and made new ones. In June of 2010 in Alaska, I reached my goal of running a marathon in every state. Some of the same friends & family who came to Las Vegas made this trip too.
Since then, I have run a few more, totaling 83 now. My new goal is to reach 100 marathons. With my mantra of Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, “I think I will be able to do so.
Over this same time period, I became a fitness instructor & later retired from public education.
I think there is a real calling for people to work with baby boomers and they appreciate a peer rather than a perky 20 year old. I now feel that my calling is to help people be the best that they can be and to help them be healthy. I have been working at this for over 20 years at the University of Missouri Saint Louis.
Paul, I wish you the very best with your project and on race day. I will certainly be looking for you out there on the course. Happy running!
Editor's Note: Rae ran during the Bass Pro Conservation Marathon Weekend on in November, 2012. KY3 is asking for your fitness stories. If you have one, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.