I've been thinking about my abilities as a runner as I've gotten older. When I was in my mid 40s, I ran four marathons, the times ranging from 3:59 to about 4:12. I ran weekly long runs of 15 miles, at a 7 minutes/mile pace. I could work in my yard all day and then run 15 miles in the evening. After I stopped running marathons, I began a slow downward slide in my distance, but I maintained a long run of about 10 miles. In May 2004 (age 69) my wife and I were in a serious automobile accident. I was in intensive care for three weeks, much of the time in an induced coma. Twice my family was called in, because the doctors didn't think I would make it through the night. I did make it, though. The night before I left that hospital to go another hospital for physical therapy, the technicians got me on my feet, and I was able to support my body weight for about three seconds, and then I had to sit down. During 10 days of therapy, I learned to walk again, first using a wheel chair, then a walker, then a cane, and finally without any support, although I had to use a banister and pull myself upwards when going up stairs. During the first year after my accident, I had my gall bladder removed, surgery for a double hernia, and surgery for 10 skin cancers (one skin cancer required surgery 1/4 inch deep and about 1.5 inches in diameter.
I had good running for four years. In 2006 and 2007, I ran half marathons and had hopes of working up to a full marathon. However, in January, 2009, my running came to an abrupt end, literally. I finished a 22-mile week with a 7-mile run on Saturday. On Monday, I could only walk about 100 feet. I was in the hospital for 5 days, while doctors tried to find out what was wrong with me. It took several months for the doctors to discover that the problem was a vein-filter that had been placed in me during the three weeks I was in intensive care but was not removed when I went into 10 days of therapy. The filter had quit working and blocked most of the blood returning from my two legs to my heart. I had blood clots during this time, but none of the clots reached my lungs, thankfully. During the months following my hospital stay, I ran short distances, and my strength and distance slowly came back as my body created new veins around the filter.
By this time, I was in my mid 70s, and I was beginning to suffer the effects of getting older. Now, I'm almost 79. My balance and coordination are going down. My mind and memory are still good, though. I'm running short distances at a slow pace, and I'm using Galloway's run-walk-run method of alternating running and walking. Am I sad that I'm running slow and short distances rather than the half and full marathons I would like to be running? No, I'm still alive and am enjoying my running. I take life as it comes and try to make the best of each day. I'm currently serving a service mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, giving 10 hours or more each week to my missionary calling, answering feedbacks from users of an app called Gospel Library (the app runs on iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Android, although I'm not involved with the Android version). I still have hopes of running and walking until I reach age 100, and if that happens, I'll keep running and walking as long as I can. My heart is strong, and my upper body is relatively strong. If I reach the point where I can't run or walk, I'll let a wheel chair be my legs and keep on going. Life has been good to me, and I'm trying to be good to it.