half marathons, running, senior runners

A Happy Man!


Look at that happy man — me!  Margie took the photo as we had
a celebratory dinner at a popular 5-star local restaurant,
Merriman’s Fish House, in Poipu Kauai.

That morning, with a 6 a.m. start, I began my fourth long-distance race on Kauai — the first, in 2012, a full (26.2-mile) marathon.  I was a relative puppy then of 78.  The last three have been half-marathons.  How did I do?  Read on.

Kauai is a lovely island — my favorite “Neighbor Island” — in the state of Hawaii.  And the the Kauai Marathon and half-marathon have come to attract a lot of runners — from the state of Hawaii as well as the Mainland and even Japan.

For me, there was no need to drive to the start. We were staying in one of  the Kiahuna Plantation beachfront condos, a short walk from the start on Poipu Drive.

It’s a lovely course and a tough one!  The first several miles proceed relentlessly uphill.  Finally, runners get to the the famous “Tunnel of Trees,” where the course proceeds through a long canopy of Eucalyptus trees on either side. Magnificent!  It’s only a bit further till runners turn left and begin a long, mostly downhill course to the finish.

The course even proceeds through a rural residential section where many of the local folks set up chairs to watch the runners pass by.  Some of the kids were even offering cups of drinks. That was appreciated even though there were frequent “aid stations” along the course.

Alas, during the last few miles, I found myself doing some walking.  But when I saw my beloved Margie waving at me, with less than a half-mile to go, I ran with some vigor to the finish line.  A good thing!  Despite the walking, it was still
my fastest time among the three half-marathons I have done this year. 

After the race, over-all winners and age-group winners are announced and called up to receive their awards.  Guess who has the longest wait?  The octogenarians. I waited patiently for 80-and-over to be called — but they were waiting for other 80 year olds to finish.  Margie spoke up. She called to the presenter, “he’s the only one over 80!”

So now I have a set of four of the attractive, hand-made plates presented as awards each year.

 

 

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Daughters, running, Sports

Sandy & I do the GAR

One unique run of which Hawaii can boast is the Great Aloha Run — 8.15 miles from the landmark Aloha Tower downtown to the floor of Aloha Stadium to the west.  The 32nd running attracted over 20,000 registered runners.  That doesn’t count the 5,000 or so military personnel who run in formation.

I have done most of the GARs to date.  But this year, for the first time, I ran with our daughter Sandy.  She was visiting from Tucson, Ariz., with her husband Dave.  Sandy shares my love of running.  As a teenager she ran two Honolulu Marathons with me.  And she is good!  Read on.

Before the race started, Sandy said, darn, she needed to find a restroom.  She said, “You go ahead, I’ll catch up.”  I’m embarrassed to say, I did just that.  I wanted to get as close to the start as I could to avoid the walkers!  That used to be a help in one’s race time but because of the chip (now in our bib) timing is from starting mat to finish mat.

I’ve gotten age group awards in the Great Aloha Run, including 1st in age group (in men 80-85) in 2015.  And I’m competitive — even with my daughter!

Sandy finishesIndeed I finished well ahead of Sandy.  I waited patiently near the finish line, even though finishers are urged to keep moving.  Finally I spotted her, she spotted me, and I used the camera in my brand new iPhone SE to capture that moment.  She looked proud and happy and I felt proud and happy.  Then, we proceeded to pick up our finishers shirts and collect some goodies.
Again, MarathonPhoto captured us together, in this happy moment.

Checking results online, I found that — in spite of my long wait — Sandy had beaten me!  Her time: 1:45:48.  My time:  1:47.11  TRULY, I am pleased that she won the family championship.

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December 7, 1941, marathons, Pearl Harbor attack, running, senior runners, World War II

75 Years after the Start of World War II

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Here I stand, 82 years old.  It’s Dec. 7, 2016 — 75 years to the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and other sites on Oahu.  I’m smiling, just happy to be alive and strong enough to still be running.  (Note I’m wearing a finisher’s shirt for the 2014 Honolulu Marathon.)  And I’m standing at Kahala beach on the property where my family lived on that day.

I still have vivid memories of Dec. 7, 1941, when I was 7 years old. My older brother Dick and I were barred from running down to this beach to see what we could see.  I expect we would have seen nothing from this low-lying vantage point, with Diamond Head lying between us and Pearl Harbor.  Later in the day, I remember listening with my mother and Dick to the radio and catching, as best a seven-year-old can, the import and sober nature of the news.  The advice I remember most was to boil water for drinking.

My mom must have been very worried about my dad, but being a stiff-upper-lipped New Englander, born and reared in Connecticut, she didn’t betray it.  When my dad did arrive home — I’m not sure of the hour but it was before our bedtime — he was carrying a pistol that had been issued to him.  That impressed me!

I’m not sure how long we kept observing blackouts during the evening. We taped light-blocking paper over the two windows in an upstairs bedroom and that became our evening gathering place as a family.  I remember my dad reading the Christmas Story to me in that room one evening.  Christmas day, of course, fell just 18 says after Pearl Harbor.

Back to today.  My brother, sadly, died a little over a year ago.  As for technology, the picture above was taken using Margie’s iPhone 6+.  I expect the technologies that exist 75 years from now will include some not even dreamed of today.  May technologies focus on peaceful pursuits and not on weapons of war!

Oh, and about running.  I have promised Margie that I will limit my distances henceforth to half-marathons.  So I won’t get any finishers shirt for the 2016 Honolulu Marathon.   But I’m convinced that far from shortening life, running lengthens it.

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cancer, Leukemia, marathons, running, Writing

Alicia and Patty: Kindred Souls

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On Sunday June 26, Margie and I ran the Mango Days 5K, held each year at Ala Moana Park, not far from Waikiki Beach.  The run is named after our daughter Patty’s book, Mango Days, which I compiled from her personal journal, poems and letters to her best friend.  Patty (above right) died of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 18, before she was able to finish even one year of college.

Very recently, in an ongoing bid to clean up my office, I was sorting through saved mail when I came across a handwritten letter from Alicia Parlette (above left), then employed by the San Francisco Chronicle.  She had read Mango Days and was deeply touched.

In the letter, Alicia writes that despite a hectic personal schedule, “I had to stop everything and write to you.”

“Patty and I would have been friends, I know it.  First of all she’s the only other person in the world who actually thought about being a copy editor (smiley face sketched in).  Some of her personal entries . . . particularly the ones about writing resemble some of mine from when I was 16, 17, 18.  And I LOVE mangoes!”

She goes on:  “I lied. The thing I wanted to do after I leafed through her book wasn’t to write to you.  I wanted to write her.”

“And I think I will.  I do this with my mom.  I write her letters and leave them on her grave until the cemetery keepers throw them away.  She and Patty had the same disease, you know.  Another connection.”

The letter was written in October 2005.  Seven years earlier, Alicia had herself developed cancer, experiencing pain in the area of her right hip, forcing her to drop out of cross country running.

That’s still another connection.  Patty, too, loved to run, and at age 17 completed the Honolulu Marathon.  Crossing that finish line was perhaps the proudest moment of her life.

Alicia died on April 22, 2012.  During her final days, friends read aloud to her, To Kill A Mocking Bird, her favorite book.  She died twenty minutes after the last chapter was finished.

I wish Patty and Alicia could have met. Who knows? Maybe they are having a good conversation even now!

 

 

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marathons, running, senior runners

My final Boston Marathon–Darnit!

Welcome to Hopkinton

“IT ALL STARTS HERE”

That’s a sign put up on April 18, Patriot’s Day, in semi-rural Hopkinson, Mass. — for the start of the annual running of the Boston Marathon. It’s perhaps the world’s most prestigious marathon. It was my ninth Boston Marathon — and almost surely my last.  And it was memorable, in good ways, and not so good ways. Read on. . .

before boarding bus

The first picture shows me at the Boston Common, a short walk from our hotel. I’d soon board a bus to Hopkinton, sitting next to a nice man from California. We had lively conversation, each of us a trifle nervous, he because he was about to do his first Boston, and I because — hey, I’m 81. There were only seven octogenarians in the entire field, including two women.

The weather was grand. Clear blue skies and coolish temperatures. Arriving in Hopkinson, I walked immediately to the “Hawaii House,” so dubbed by runners from Hawaii. A nice resident of the town, with an affection for Hawaii,  each year welcomes Hawaii runners to his home/business office on Main Street, steps from where the marathon begins.

The race starts in three waves. Naturally I was in the last wave, populated by slower runners. (When you starts means little or nothing.  A chip affixed to your running number starts your personal “clock” when you cross the starting mat. High tech!)

The Boston Marathon is famed for, among other things, its very steep downhill in the first mile. Cautious runners, like me, put on the brakes in steep downhills. The infamous “Newton Hills” come in the second half of the race. Obviously, those hills provide a different kind of challenge!

In the first eight or so miles, I felt good, even confident, and managed to do the first half in 2:28. If I had doubled that, I would have had  a respectable time. But well before getting to the infamous Newton Hills, I found myself walking. Never, ever before have I walked in the first half of any marathon.

At the famous “Heartbreak” Hill, I looked for Margie along the left side of the road, waiting with friends.  There she was! She took one look at me and asked me —  begged me! — to drop out. I may have been tempted, but only for an instant. She gave me a fresh bottle of water, and a hug, and I continued on at a semi-fast walk.

Then, at about mile 22 I realized some people were passing me on the right. So I moved over to steady myself and take a brief break. But when I reached out to a temporary barrier put in place for the race, it collapsed — and so did I! A nice policeman came immediately to my aid. A wheelchair was summoned and I was wheeled to a nearby medical tent. They took my my temperature  and blood pressure and inserted an IV. That stop reinvigorated me!  But perhaps more important, I was inspired by the kind, caring aid of the medical crew. I asked if it was OK for me to get back on the course, to walk on to the finish. You’re good to go, they said. So walk I did, at as brisk a pace as I could manage.

Citco signWhen I spotted the CITGO sign in the distance — it’s familiar landmark — about 3 miles from the finish, I figured, hey, I’m going to make it! I stepped up my pace and soldiered on. But what really lifted my spirit was seeing the “1 mile to go” sign. Hey, one mile is nothing, right?  After a quick right turn I knew I would soon be turning left onto Boylston Street and the finish!

Part of my inspiration came from recalling that along Boylston, on my right, I would be passing the temporary bleachers where in 2013 two bombs went off, killing three people and injuring more than 200.  I said a quick silent prayer as I ran by those bleachers. (I was about a mile from the finish in 2013 when the bombs went off.)

488008_226773215_XLargeAt the finish, I was struck by how there were still cheerful volunteers to greet me and other stragglers, giving us each a thermal  blanket and goodie bag, including things to munch on.

After Margie found me in the family reunion area, we walked briskly back to the hotel and a shower, then on to dinner with our Heartbreak Hill friends.

Thank goodness I was allowed to finish!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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marathons, running, senior runners

“Can’t Hold a Good Man Down”

kit after fallThere’s an old sea chantey called “You Can’t Hold the Good Man Down.” Well I don’t claim to being a “good man,” but I think the words somehow apply to me.

At age 81, running remains a passion. I’ve done countless races from 5Ks (3.1 miles) to half-marathons to marathons (26.2 miles).

Last Oct. 4 I started out confidently doing a 25K race (15.5 miles) on the windward side of Oahu — part of the annual Marathon Readiness Series, preparing for the Honolulu Marathon

Seemingly out of the blue, approaching the half-way point, I took a terrible fall.  As I recall, it happened after I had shifted from the sidewalk to the roadway, to pass someone, and then decided to return to the sidewalk.

“Call an ambulance,” someone shouted as I lay there. And very soon an ambulance arrived, its siren sounding. I was gently helped on to a gurney and hoisted aboard, feeling both embarrassed and frustrated that I couldn’t finish.

The drive to Castle Hospital took just a few minutes. And there they took beautiful care of me, doing various tests including a CAT scan, to check for brain trauma. Margie arrived in about 20 minutes and drove me to my car parked a few miles away, then shepherded me home.

The picture to the left was taken the next day, showing knees and wrists covered — and me nursing a stitched-up cut lip. Also, around my right wrist the kind folks at the hospital had affixed a band reading “FALL RISK.”IMG_4896

I’ve been doing competitive races for 40+ years, including more than 56 marathons. And I’m not about to let a little fall discourage me. Hence the title above. I don’t know if I deserve to be called “a good man.” But certainly I’m persistent!

So, on Dec. 13, I did the Honolulu Marathon. My time was 5 hours 59 minutes — far from my best but good enough for 3rd among the 24 runners age 80-84. In the photo, I have one mile to go to the finish.

Will I be back do it again next year? You’re darn betcha, the good Lord willing.

 

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