When I first started running with my little sister back in 2010, she had the advantage of being eight years younger and around 60 pounds lighter than I was. I was feeling lighter myself, having already lost about 30 pounds by the time we shifted from walking to running, but I was all too aware of the gap between us. At times, when I was really struggling, I wondered if I was just too old to even think about trying to keep up with her.
Eventually I did catch up, at least in size and speed; there’s not a lot I can do about our age difference. But recovering from an injury the last several weeks, I began to wonder – for the first time in four years – if I was getting too old to keep up with her.
Traci’s a lot tougher than I am. She runs through joint pain on a regular basis without ever saying a word. Even if she hasn’t been running for a while, she’ll push herself as hard as she can rather than ask to slow down. Lately she’s wanted to do intervals every time we’ve gone out for a run together, and I’ve been holding back, wanting to baby my healing hamstring.
Until Friday, that is. We went out fast, as we’re prone to do when we haven’t talked for several days and there’s a lot to catch up on. When our legs try to keep up with our mouths, look out!
We had to laugh when we got to the 1-mile mark, where we usually begin our accelerations, because we were already pretty darn accelerated. But we hit the gas anyway, vowing to slow to a jog afterward. And we did, for a little while, before starting to speed up again long before we got to the next interval.
This is what happens when you break out of a slump, I guess. I’d been babying my leg for so long, and it felt so good to not hurt, and not worry about being out of shape, and just … go!
By the time we got to the 2-mile turnaround, it was Traci who was starting to feel gassed. So we did finally slow the pace between speed burns, just enough to let her recover a bit. As for me, I was so grateful to have mentally recovered from feeling old and slow – not to mention the enormous relief of feeling like this injury is finally in the rear view mirror – that I felt like I was experiencing the best runner’s high of all time.
I may be 49, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that good on a run — at any age.