Submitted by Jennifer Salter on
As many of you know, I recently raced the Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon, Toronto's biggest race. Here is what I wrote about my experience the following week: "After much training over the past four months, including very hard runs and very easy, meditative ones, the day I had been waiting for arrived this past Sunday: The Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon. As usual, my mind was full of self-doubt and the existential question of why on earth I do this to myself. I have enough to occupy my time! I made it to my corral just in time, stood there wrapped in a garbage bag (the funniest aspect of the start line of a race - the multitude of runners standing around wearing garbage bags), freezing, and trying to calm my nerves by thinking about all the training runs I nailed over the past months. I recently read that Deena Kastor, the US marathon record holder and one of the world's greatest long distance runners, usually loses her confidence before a big race and deals with this by thinking about the successful runs she had in training. While I am not even close to Deena's galaxy, I find that it this helps me too. The gun went off, and we went. I have to say that I had a completely beautiful run, right on pace, and I even got to wave to my husband and kids as I ran down Bathurst Street by our street. The last three kilometres were, how shall I say, mental - but when I hit the 20 km mark and looked at my watch and saw 1:32, and heard the crowds yelling, I knew something good was going to happen and got a last surge of energy. I hammered it to the finish line and crossed in 1:36:13, placing me 9/711 women aged 40-44 - my fastest half marathon in three years, and only 15 seconds slower than my personal best. Today, I am still sore - and still happy!
"I also am thinking about how, at age 44, running is really a rebuke to the aging process. I am in much better condition than I was when I was in my 20s. In fact, I just learned that my "fitness age", as opposed to chronological age, is under 20! (See my blog post "Fitness Age is a Much Better Predictor of Longevity Than Chronological Age") There are new issues now to deal with - taking extra time for recovery, staying strong through high quality strength training, following a 9-day instead of a 7-day training cycle, having a system to manage chronic back and knee problems, and getting enough sleep. I have had many health problems, and while this year my training was smooth and uninterrupted, I remember the same race last year - when I stood on the start line having overcome three broken ribs and whooping cough just five months earlier. I know if I can train and race, even in difficult situations, I can do almost anything."