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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Presidents week

In Celebration of Presidents weeks we are giving away, a Vi Shake sample, Nuero and a Nutracookie, Just need to sign up on the 90 day challenge,
Get your samples or your freebies!
Message me!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Keeping the Fire of Youth

Keeping the Fire of Youth

New ideas for older runners
An ancient French book describes a foot race for older runners, and enthuses, "How good it is to see they have kept the fire of youth under the creases of age. As they run, they look like a sunny day in winter."

Nice image, a sunny day in winter--Ed Whitlock to the life. For the aging runner (and, to state the obvious, we are all aging), the issue is how to stay sunny as the winter of life advances. What kinds of running, exactly, will best keep the fire of youth burning?

I sought the answers from 20 or so runners, aged 37 to 80, of widely varied ability and fame, both genders, and from six countries; several are also coaches. I chose those who think well about their running and are still interested in running well, whether that means a sub-5:00 marathon or a sub-2:04/2:20 one. (The first runners I questioned were Haile Gebrselassie, 38, and Paula Radcliffe, 37.) All have long, continuous running experience, because I needed comparison across age groups, to understand the aging/running process. I wanted to learn how these thoughtful men and women are changing their response to the eternal challenge of running as well as you can run.

I'll summarize their responses as tidily as I can. There is consensus on many things. But dealing with aging is always a tangle of senescent cells, wisdom, denial and defiance. When you add the demands of a vigorous sport mainly associated with youth, it's a complex subject.


Do more of a warm-up, the older you are. "I need a longer warmup before hard running now, including an easy 2 miles and some fast pick-ups" (Norman, 73). "The whole body comes slowly to the point of fast running" (Ger, 59). The older body seems to need longer to catch on that it's time to work hard. You can't blast away from the gun cold as high school runners can.

In a repeats session, you feel sluggish on the first one or two, and then they get easier and faster. You feel reluctant in the first half mile of a race. So stir things up. "I include skipping and hopping in warm-ups, as older runners are inclined to get heavy-footed" (Diane, 73). "My warm-up routine often includes a 1K swim and stretches" (Bernie, 64).

Above all, be prepared. "My days of going out the door ready to take whatever life throws at me during a run are over" (Deb, 52).


There's total agreement that "peaking" is even more important as you age. If you want to race well, pick goals (say, two or three a year) and shape your whole training to be ready for them. "I do base work, then gradually gear up fitness with speed work and races to peak at the right time" (Grant, 43). "I structure training to peak for a half in March and a marathon in April/May; then similar in the fall" (Ton, 55). "It's more important than ever to plan the steps to your goal race" (Bernie, 64).

There's also wide (not quite total) agreement that if you want to race well, whatever your age, your training program needs the same elements as before (long runs, faster repeats, tempo, recovery). But Jonathan (47) nails the problem that "you must face a reduction in options. Time was if I had the chance for a good 15 miles, say, it didn't matter too much if I'd done speed work yesterday. Now it's hard even to put two strong 10-milers back to back."


The long run gets shorter. You have little choice. You can do the same workouts and mileage until your early 50s if you're lucky ("At the same perceived effort albeit at a slower pace," (Alan, 54).) After that your options are reduced, as the long run gets more demanding. "The last three years have challenged my ability to hold progressive overload. I cannot now insist on 20-plus miles every Sunday long run" (Chris, 63). "Not as long and not the intensity--the recovery took too long and interfered with the whole week's training" (Bernie, 62).

Dan (67) points to the danger that, unless you make the longer runs slower, they become too near your new (slower) race pace, and leave you flat for races. Scott (47) runs more time now, sometimes 3 hours, to log the distance he wants, but recognizes the cost/benefit problem, "given that goal No. 1 is to remain uninjured and keep running daily."

It was the ever-lurking injury issue that caused Les (59) to shift to mostly long, slow running, which has given him extra endurance (as a Team in Training coach, he's often running for 8 hours back and forth supporting his beginners through a marathon). Coach and runner Diane (73) has perhaps the best solution: "Run similar amounts of time, so shorter distances. Those who have already built a solid base need less focus on adding up the miles."


Yes. At any age interval training is the shortest cut to race preparedness. Even Ed Whitlock (80), who famously runs round and round his local cemetery, told me two years ago, "I haven't run intervals for five years." OK, but even my math can figure that means he ran intervals to age 73. "A qualified yes--the intensive work gradually gives way to greater volume" (Dan, 67). That seems the consensus--retirement-age runners have less inclination for intensive training, and it may be less essential.

Against that general trend, however, set the revival of Norman's racing by running long repeats for the first time at 70: "The long intervals--3 minutes up to 10 minutes--were really important. They taught me the physical and mental discipline of racing for 40 minutes" (Norman, 73).

Handle intervals with care. Always build a base of miles first. Be aware of the "reduction of options" (see above), which means as you get older and recovery is slower, you can't fit everything into each week. "On Tuesdays I alternate 8 x 3 minutes with a 10-mile tempo/pick-up run" (Grant, 43). So try a two-week training cycle, a brilliantly simple solution proposed by British guru Bruce Tulloh.

Shorten the intense phase. "Track and tempo sessions are still key, but now I do them for only four weeks before a big race instead of eight" (Gabby, 44). Ger, a Dutch coach, does the same. Reduce the impact/injury risk. Almost all my respondents have given up training in spikes. Paula (37) no longer races on the track. Bernie (64) often does her speed work on grass. Jo (38) does hers on a straight trail because track bends aggravated a foot injury. Norm (73) does his on a rail-trail, by time--6 x 3 minutes, say, instead of 6 x 800m, which cured his crippling anxiety about lap times. Haile (38) and Chris (63) do their speed work on a treadmill. And see "Warming Up" and "Recovery."


Yes, especially if you race marathons, but they may have to alternate with intervals. "You can do too many tempo runs as you age and run yourself right out of your aerobic base" (Chris, 63). "Don't let them turn into mini-races" (Dan, 67). "Slower now, keyed more to marathon pace, and often on grass" (Bernie, 64). "I love to run at various paces. Would you cook the same dish every day? I do more impromptu tempo runs now, especially after a miserable work day, going hard for 30 minutes or so" (Scott, 47).


The older you are, the longer it takes to recover fully from hard races. And aging bodies are cunning. If you race too often, yours will find a comfort zone, and you'll become a 75 percent racer without realizing it. As you age, you need increasingly to make your body aware in training of the difference between a 25 percent day and a 100 percent one.

Be selective. You're old enough (if you're reading this) not to have to impress the crowds every week. Learn to treat some races as building blocks in your training program, alternatives perhaps to your tempo run, starting at a casual jog, then picking it up with, say, 2 miles to go. Or fit your interval session into a race--race one mile, jog one mile, and repeat, which will give you a useful 3 x 1-mile session in the course of a local 10K. Successful racing is always a balance of hot effort and cool judgment, and you can use minor races to teach yourself that self-control.

"Targeting one key race as the aim of the whole program really gave me a focus, and put the other races into perspective. In the past all races were equal to me, but this time each had a place and a purpose, a different objective from what the watch said" (Norman, 73). "My body now has only a certain amount of races and hard training without injury. You have to pick your goals" (Bernie, 64).

If you want to stay part of the weekly racing community, volunteer! You'll be surprised how much you learn about running. A day at the races is never wasted.


This is the key. Pete Magill's revelatory "It's the Recovery, Stupid," in last October's issue, should be required reading for all masters: "Physiological adaptations can only occur with proper recovery. … You shouldn't be doing a long run on tired legs." Essential stuff.

There are two aspects to recovery. First, as you age, the familiar hard day/easy day principle will become hard/easy/easy. You need more very light, 25 percent days (not necessarily days off running completely): "I pay greater attention to recovery days. I resent them, but I'm clear about the consequences of running unrecovered" (Chris, 63). "When I was younger, my body would tell me how long it took for the impact of training to wear off. Now I have to take charge of that process" (Dan, 67).

Second, there's recovery during sessions. Experimentally coaching a 70-year-old who could handle a session of 8 x 400m, I had him recover for 3 to 5 minutes between each repeat, instead of the 1 minute I would give a 25-year-old. Between longer repeats (of, say, 3 minutes or 6 minutes), we strolled along conversationally until he felt ready, maybe after 7 or 10 minutes. No one else seems to have tried these "relaxed recovery repeats" for older runners. It worked. It enabled him to fulfill what I call the "quantity of quality"--a total of 40 minutes' race-pace training for a 40-minute race. He trained like a 25-year-old. He could do that because he got a 70-year-old's recovery time.


"Unclog the wheels of life, to increase the motion of the machine," wrote the novelist Tobias Smollett in 1771. We get stale doing the same thing. One of the greatest dangers for the experienced runner is that if you simply keep repeating the same training, your body gets too efficient at it. Improvement comes from adaptation to recurrent overstress--that's the basic principle of human skills at any age. Watch a 1-year-old learn to walk. So revise your forms of overstress and refresh your program.

"Seriously, I think I need to change something" (Alan, 54, on the eve of his 25th New York City Marathon). "After 33 years you can get stale without knowing it. So adding long reps off the track gave me a new kind of freshness" (Norm, 73). Les (59) discovered in his 50s that "slow running can be good for you, and has much improved my endurance base. Now I even do an occasional speed workout without getting injured." Jo (38) added 15-mile tempo runs with a consistent heart rate. "It's hard for a lifetime track runner to accept that a long run is equal to a hard interval session, but it's working."


My respondents loved this bit. They all do stuff. "I need physiotherapy every day now" (Haile, 38). Several advocated stretching, others waxed lyrical about massage. Five of them chilled me by enthusing about ice baths. Here's an alphabetical list of other things they variously recommended: active isolated stretching, avoiding direct sun, balance improvement, bone density scans, compression clothing, core-strength exercises, electrolyte tablets, flow-type yoga, foot pad, gym work, heart monitor, hydration packs, pool running, stationary bike, strengthening quads, swimming, t'ai chi, touching your toes, treadmill, umpteen nutritional ideas, Wharton-sanctioned strengthening.

I confess to being out of my depth. I'm with Chris (63), who tried various new technologies, and concluded, "I returned to water, food and hard work."


Is it worth it? Only a tiny minority are willing to push themselves physically and mentally in their 50s, 60s or 70s instead of retiring to the couch. What are their rewards?

Bernie annually asks herself the question. "Decide each year if your passion and enthusiasm are still strong enough to enable you to enjoy your running no matter how hard it gets with age. Then just do it!" Scott defines the motivation. "Do what you can to keep your body as close as you can to how it was when you were at your best."

Walter Bortz, M.D., gives one medical-scientific justification: "Research at USC shows that a fit person of 70 has the same oxygen-carrying capacity as an unfit person of 30." University of Pittsburgh research published last fall found that in fit older runners there's little decline in muscle mass and quality (lack of fat infiltration) between age 40 and 80. When all Peter's cardiac arteries were found to be blocked at age 68, his life was saved because his 50 years of competitive running had created a whole network of ancillary routes for the blood.

Dan reveals the underlying passion: "I asked the 26 contributors to Running in the Zone why they all continue to run in later life. In one form or other, all 26 replied, ‘Because I love it.' They didn't say winning, just running. The time may come when old age catches you. But running demands mental strength, and so does adjusting to what time will slowly do to all of us." Homage therefore to both John Kelleys, Ron Hill, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Dick Beardsley, Paula Radcliffe, and all those greats who have loved running so well that they kept competing, not too proud to be older and slower.

Norman trained for a year for a 70-plus world championship under a cruel and remorseless coach (me), only to fall sick with Lyme disease four days before the big race. He could have felt it was all a waste. Quite the reverse.

"The program was outstanding. Although of course I was slower than at 40, I was in better shape for a race than I had ever been in my whole running career. I had confidence, excitement and the knowledge that I could give it everything. I never felt like that before. I was putting in as much total effort as when I was younger, and I was training smarter and better. I really enjoyed the process. It was a whole new experience. I'm happy that I was lucky enough to have that in my 70s."

That sounds like reward. It also sounds like the "sunny day in winter" that we started out seeking. As Shakespeare put it, in another perfect motto for older runners, "Though I look old, yet am I strong and lusty."

Roger Robinson's Heroes and Sparrows: a Celebration of Running was republished in 2011. It includes the classic "Running through the mid-life crisis." Order it at www.rogerrobinson.com.

Thanks to the multinational runners and coaches who generously shared their thinking: Jonathan Beverly, Peter Coughlan, Dan Cumming, Scott Douglas, Haile Gebrselassie, Norman Goluskin, Ger Janssen, Les Heffernan, Grant McLean, Deb Meier, Gabrielle O'Rourke, Diane Palmason, Jo Pavey, Bernie Portenski, Paula Radcliffe, Brian Rhodes, Chris Risker, Jim Robinson, Alan Ruben, Ton Ruckert, Ed Whitlock.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Gift of being Coached

The Gift of Being Coached
The need for an objective look at your fitness
By Rachel Toor

As featured in the January 2012 issue of Running Times MagazineA couple of years ago I got an email from a famous runner who's been much maligned, someone about whom everyone has an opinion. He wrote, "In the end, I guess the most important person we need to answer to is the face we see in the mirror every morning."It's one of those things that people say. It's a cliche. And unlike most cliches, it's dead wrong.Think about what happens when you look in the mirror. Many of us tend to focus only on the flaws: I'm getting more wrinkles. Or on what we can fix: How do I get rid of that zit? Or we look only at what pleases us: Hey, it's a not-bad hair day.I've known average or even plain men who can look in the mirror and say: "Dude, you're a good-looking guy."The fact is, most of us are not our own best judges.I started running at age 30, jogged for a couple of years, and then I met Peter, who had been the women's track coach at Duke before Title IX. A grizzled biologist, Peter started coaching me. He'd write personalized progressive programs and most days we'd do the workouts together. We'd go to the track Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on the weekends we'd do long runs from his farm in Durham, N.C.Old-school Peter believed that you shouldn't run a marathon if you couldn't finish in less than 3 1/2 hours. Too hard on the body to be out there longer, he'd say. So he trained me to run a marathon faster than 3:30. It was gratifying, in a way, to be told exactly what to do. I'd always had jobs where I'd have to figure things out on my own. I'm accustomed to many degrees of freedom and an expectation of creativity in most areas of my life; having to follow a precise and rigid schedule was weirdly liberating.Until it started to feel constraining.Peter didn't understand that I couldn't make running my priority. My job required travel and I often had to miss workouts. When I was injured, I didn't have access to a pool for the cross-training Peter prescribed. The truth is, Peter's programs didn't fit with the realities of my life. My choice was either to change my life or disobey Peter. So I would have him coach me for a while, and then I'd "fire" him. But after some time passed, and I wanted to prepare for a race, I'd come crawling back and he'd write another program as if nothing had changed but my level of fitness.We did this for a number of years. On long runs we'd discuss politics and science and art and war. He followed the sports medicine literature and reported on recent findings. I understood his training philosophy and understood, too, what didn't work for me. It's been a long time since I've had a real coach, but any success I had as a runner is due to the fact that I got started with someone as intellectual and rigorous as Peter.With writing, we generally know what's working, and we know, too, when something isn't. We tell ourselves that maybe we're wrong--it's really OK. Or that maybe no one else will notice the problem. Because writing is so painful, we tend to let ourselves off the hook. Whenever anyone tells me that they love to write my response is always the same: I probably don't want to read what you write. Those who care about the craft know that what's easy to read was hard to write, and know, too, we aren't our own best editors. Those who care about writing well seek readers who will speak uncomfortable truths and push us harder than we will push ourselves. Once you tell yourself you're good enough, you won't be.Being coached was like having an editor. Peter knew me, as a runner, better than I knew myself. He made it impossible for me to believe my own ego-soothing lies.Ten years ago I ran my marathon PR of 3:14. After that, as my times started slowing, I found other ways to make my running meaningful. I'd lead pace groups, or escort friends for the last 40 miles of their 100-mile races. I'd help beginning runners by getting them out the door for jogs. During this time, I'd still tell myself that if I wanted to run fast, I could. I was simply choosing not to.For the past few years I'd stopped running hard. So when I was invited to the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) "Adult Running Retreat," I said No thanks. Bill Pierce, Ed.D., one of the authors of the book, Run Less, Run Faster, had extended an offer to come and have my fat measured, my VO2 maxed, and my lactate pushed to its threshold.At a glance, the program looked like the running equivalent of the Twinkie Diet, a painless way to get faster. I'm skeptical of the quick and easy fix. I didn't want to run less. I cherish my junk miles; they were keeping me somewhat sane.That the program had been featured in Runner's World led my hard-core friends to think it wasn't for serious runners, and some lingering, recondite part of my self-image was hard-core. It was easy to say no.But I got to know Bill Pierce when I gave a talk at Furman University, and I'd met his co-authors, Scott Murr and Ray Moss, and I knew these guys were nothing if not serious runners. Pierce, the long-time chair of the Health Sciences Department, is the kind of guy, intense and disciplined, who can make others feel twitchy about their too-human ways. He stopped eating junk food in 1984 and has never since looked longingly at cake or ice cream. His wife, a business professor and high-level administrator, cooks healthy low-fat meals and stores them in weighed-out portions.Pierce and his co-authors created a running program. Amby Burfoot profiled it for Runner's World in 2005 and Rodale published the book Run Less, Run Faster in 2007. It's sold more than 70,000 copies and has been translated into German and Portuguese. The second edition will be out in April. Pierce is also a kind, smart and interesting man. Talking to him made me curious about the program, and so, as an experiment, I decided to check it out.Twice a year, in March and May, 16 adults come to the FIRST retreat. This isn't running camp; it's more like corporate boot camp. The attendees are well-dressed, well-heeled and serious about knocking minutes off their marathons. Many have started in the last few years, often around a milestone birthday--40 or 50. Nearly everyone has had injuries. They arrive with specific goals, often to qualify for Boston or bust out a PR. They tend to be folks who were never on a team, never had the benefit of coaching.Greenville, S.C., in March looks like spring. The Furman campus is country-club beautiful, with a palette of flora that shocks and delights. This is a place you want to come to.But not to lie flat and have the DEXA machine take the most revealing pictures you can imagine of your body. This is so far from porn that you'd have to pay people to bootleg copies. You get a picture of exactly where your bones are dense and a breakdown of your body fat by region. I expected my overall percentage to be low and it was--at the good end of excellent. But after years of referring to my skinny ass, I was surprised to learn the largest portion of my blubber is in my butt. This made me want to do squats.To analyze my gait, a perky professor of physical therapy pawed over my body, measuring angles of repose and extension. Then I had to get on a treadmill to run while being videotaped. This wasn't so bad.The bad part was the VO2 max test. A number of times I've been offered to have this expensive test done on me for free. I've always declined, because 1) I'm not convinced it's a useful measure, and 2) It's freaking painful.Before you show up at the retreat, you're supposed to fill out an extensive questionnaire. I refused to keep a four-day food diary. I don't need to be told that my diet sucks; I understand that Cheez-Its and Tootsie Rolls aren't at the base of most people's food pyramids. So I missed out on the personal analysis that parses your diet.When it came to answering questions about my running--which had been the equivalent of Cheez-Its and Tootsie Rolls--I was almost as unforthcoming.In other words, I went with a bad attitude. We could say that it had something to do with the vagaries of a complicated life, including a recent breakup with a bad boyfriend, or we could say that it's because I am recalcitrant and intractable. Plus, I kept maintaining, I didn't care about getting faster.I was wrong. The data showed, to my horror and humiliation, I was even less fit than I believed. My VO2 max score embarrassed me. The tests did show, however, that I'm capable of pushing myself hard. One of the indicators is the RER, the respiratory exchange rate. The fastest male runner and I tied for the highest scores in the group, both of us needing help off the treadmill at the end of the test. My lactate had gone crazy-high. So even though I was out of shape, I was, like most serious runners, capable of withstanding plenty of physical pain. This is something I knew but had forgotten.Since I'd read Run Less, Run Faster before the retreat, I knew the program: three high-quality running workouts a week, two cross-training sessions, and some strength and flexibility thrown in. The idea is that you go hard every single time. The cross-training should be non-weight-bearing and intense--biking, rowing, swimming. The book is fat with tables that, based on your 5K time, give you the exact pace for each workout: Tuesday track, Thursday tempo, and Saturdays long and at a specific pace, faster than most people do their long runs.Over the weekend I learned, to my surprise, that I wanted to get faster. During the retreat, I beat my test-predicted times and Bill had to keep adjusting my workouts. This pleased me. It almost made me want a do-over with the VO2 max test.I came home committed to training and decided to exploit Pierce's kindness. I had agreed to run on a Corporate Cup team for the Bloomsday 12K in Spokane in May and asked Bill to help me for the six weeks before the race.He pointed me to specific tables in the book for a schedule, which I sort of followed. When the weather was good. After each workout, I'd email him the results and he'd make encouraging comments and adjust the times as I got more fit. At first, I refused to go to the track, and took my Garmin to the dog park for repeats on the trail. I told myself that because I was running on an uneven dirt surface and having to dodge bounding dogs, my intervals would translate to faster track times. When I suggested this to Bill, he was polite.When, toward the end of my tempo runs, I wanted to slow or stop, I'd remember that I was going to have to report to my coach. I wanted not to disappoint him; I wanted, in fact, to run harder than he thought I could. So I pushed.My Bloomsday time was only 5 seconds slower than two years before (back when I was training and still cared about time), and good enough for eighth place in my age group. My pace was about a minute faster than my VO2 max test 5K pace. In other words, I'd gotten fitter faster than I could have believed. I was running no more than three times a week--and not doing cross-training.Two weeks afterward, I ran my fastest marathon in seven years, without proper training, and qualified for Boston 20 minutes under my age-group time. In my prime I would have considered the result a bad day, but now I was thrilled.What I'd learned over the first two months is my endurance far exceeded my speed. This wasn't a surprise, given that I'd been running long and slow for years. And I remembered what I already knew: Each workout has a different purpose. I needed real speed work, which meant going to the track and not the oval at the dog park. I found a group who did weekly workouts coached by the girls distance coach at running powerhouse Mead High School. Having other people to suffer with helped a lot, and being the slowest person on the track was a good motivator for a competitive overachiever.The tempo runs were hard, but achievable. The long runs were unlike any long runs I've ever done. Slave to my watch, I watched each mile tick by with an anxious desire to beat the pace I was supposed to be running; these weren't the Sunday morning outings I've done in the past. Now I was running with a purpose.The point of the FIRST program is to get rid of junk miles and use the cross-training days to get off your feet and work your heart. I understand the reasoning but can't follow the plan. I hate water and cycling hurts my butt. So I took the days off and ran only the workouts, with an occasional dog-accompanied trot and lots of hilly hiking. I've come to understand that my hard runs have to be hard. Because they are, I was often too tired to go every day. I prepared for the next one by resting.It was painful to accept that if I want to meet goals, I have to forgo opportunities. Because I'm still me, however, there were some things I "had" to do. Against Bill's advice, in July I ran a 50K in the mountains of Montana, and did a Ride and Tie race on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Trail running and horseback riding weren't good for my training, but they soothed my psyche.At the retreat, I'd told Bill I had no running goals. I was never going to beat my marathon PR, and I didn't care about running shorter races. But the more I trained, the more satisfying I found it. Knowing exactly what I was supposed to do each day made life seem less chaotic. Meeting or exceeding the times mattered not because I was working toward some goal but because I liked reporting in to Bill. I loved that there was someone else who cared about my running. During my Bloomsday training I went to hear New Yorker writer Susan Orlean talk about her forthcoming book. She said to get it done, she paid an editor to call her every day just to ask how the work was going. At a different point in my life, I would have found this nutty.The most important part of my post-FIRST retreat experience has nothing to do with physical results. It was the reminder of the value of coaching; having someone invested in what you do is the best cure for slacking off. Being accountable to Bill has remade me as a runner. I'm entering my 50s as fit as I've ever been and think of myself, once again, as an athlete in training.I'm now excited to go to the track, and to do my long runs so hard I spend the afternoon whimpering. I'm competing again, eager to race, not just pay for a bib number and socialize. The required discipline has seeped into other aspects of life. My writing production has increased with my lactate threshold and my house is less messy.Some puritanical part of me believed I shouldn't have to ask for help, especially since, after two decades of running, I thought I knew all this stuff. Needing a coach seemed a sign of weakness. Somehow I managed to listen to Bill with a beginner's mind. I would ask him questions I knew the answers to, but tried to convince myself I was wrong. I couldn't dismiss what he said: If you trust someone enough to have them coach you, the least you can do is follow their advice (well, most of it).What I learned, other than the obvious insight that if you want to run faster you have to run faster, is that being secure enough to ask for and receive help is a hallmark of growth and maturity. You receive a more realistic image of yourself than the one in the mirror. Sometimes it's hard to face, but most of the time it feels like a gift.Postscript: I finished the Tri-Cities Marathon in 3:31:20, 21 seconds slower than my target time. The woman in third place beat me by 13 seconds. I couldn't tell if I should be disappointed. I decided no.I loved going to the track. I loved the sense of being a serious athlete again. And, of course, I loved having a coach. In my younger years, I would have thought the gap between 3:29 and 3:31 was as wide as the Columbia River. Not now.

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