At first, I was struck by the fact that she was essentially calling me old by not including me in the "young enough to get faster" category (and perhaps she simply wasn't talking to me). But then I thought about the idea that there was an age at which a female could no longer get faster (okay, this concept was not entirely new ;)). But in my case, despite being 33, I don't think I've gotten to that point. Or rather, I know I haven't. Three years ago, I ran this same very hilly trail marathon in 3:53, last year in 3:49 and this year in 3:22 (and I ran every step in pain from my hip injury this year)!! Either I am not too old to improve or I missed out on my earlier potential, only now am I tapping into it and will never know how fast I could have been.
Nina, on the other hand, has a marathon PR of 2:49 and ran Sunday's race in 3:14. I'm not sure whether or not her "slowing down" can be attributed to being 48 years old or whether it is the simple fact that one has to train perfectly and a lot to be in 2:49 marathon shape. Honestly Nina still looks to be in 2:49 marathon shape. What a dream to look like that at 48!
|Nina, female winner, wasting no time at the aid station (does envying her arms make me a bad person?)|
I also have to mention, Skovløberen is an awesome race. It is the only marathon I have run three times. I have previously called it my favorite Danish marathon. And it still is and it is SR's, too. It is challenging and beautiful and almost exclusively on trails in the woods of Hejede Overdrev. It includes the highest point on Sjælland and basically when all of the ice caps have melted from global warming, this Overdrev will be all that is left of our island. This marathon would definitely be turned into an ultra in the USA because it just attracts the ultra runner types.
|Daniel has been a very good friend through all of our moving back and forth. He has really developed into a strong runner and his New Balance Minimal trail shoes are my next shoe purchase...|
|SR in yellow - drafting nicely. He went on to take second place in an awesome 2:58. I'm thinking he is in PR marathon shape, too.|
|Hey look. That is me. Nike cotton t-shirt circa 1982. This is flat, so I must have been running. But I somehow always look like I'm walking. A natural pose runner? Naaah. Then I wouldn't get injured.|
So yeah, I made the critical mistake of running a marathon on the Tuesday before Skovløberen and that is when my hip problems started. I KNEW it was idiotic! But thanks to hot yoga, I was able to run the whole distance.
But injuries and short tracks aside, I can harldy believe the improvements in my running times when compared to my old times here in Denmark. I came through the half marathon in 1:37 and actually had to force myself to slow down because I didn't want to do more damage to my hip. I feel I could so easily run a PR on a flat marathon course, if only my hip would stop hurting (I need to take a rest!).
BUT getting faster will also require that I have time to train and - oh my gosh - with the responsibilities of work and three kids (and a husband), I am quickly finding myself swamped and if I weren't so addicted to exercise, I probably would have given up on it entirely by now. (tomorrow I am presenting three scientific posters ... )
Maybe that's why there were over 90 men in the marathon on Sunday, but only 12 women!? But the story about how women who run long distances here are looked at as freaks is an entirely different story all together. Or is it?
Not just long distance runners, either. One of SR's colleagues saw me riding my bike with a yoga mat strapped to my backpack and said "isn't you wife too old to be running around doing things like that?". These two quotes about being "too old" have been reverberating in my head all week. Age has always been a meaningless concept to me -- and writing this has made me realize - that is how it should stay.