I run for the joy of it by myself in the nights when only the owls and skunks keep me company. Because I was asked to create this year's t-shirt I felt that it was a perfect opportunity to test the grit of my aging body to see what could be coaxed out of this rickety and rusty 1942 model. I will be 70 this year, but not yet, so I fell into the 60 to 69 group — “the toughest” according to Mike (Flick) McDonald, the spirited event organizer. I knew what he meant, but immediately a vision of a thundering horde of exuberant, post-menopausal women, like me, flashed to my mind and I saw myself being accidentally elbowed into a ditch half way through the event. My Finnish “sisu” (never give-up) kicked in followed by an easy, soothing feeling: “I run just for the delight of being able to put one foot in front of the other one without falling. Nothing more. Sure, Maire!”
The night before I loaded myself up with my super food, dark chocolate and bananas, and then couldn't sleep because of this sumptuous challenge to my stomach. At seven in the morning I felt that my mother had lied about my age, and I was actually 80, instead of 69. The mirror image confirmed this suspicion. The rescue remedy was immediately applied. Coffee and then some more coffee. Following a Finnish tradition it has to be thick and strong enough to have a spoon stand upright in the middle of the cup, like a stick in a mud.
My husband gives me a cellphone to call in case I collapse and have to be carted away at some point of the run. He is an ex-EMT. My other eye is still in sleep. Is this a dangerous sign? But after the second cup of mud I suddenly feel as if I am born to run, perhaps even born to fly. A fleeting moment of self-confidence that soon fizzles out when I arrive to the event.
Everyone at the starting point looks healthier, younger and more vigorous than me. Maybe I just came to watch the event. Do I really have to make a fool of myself? I check the number 175 on my chest and this confirms to me that I have passed the point of no-return and cannot do anything else but execute some kind of a moving action, resembling vaguely “the running.” Then an odd thing happens. I find myself actually running, not particularly fast and impressively, yet some one, less a sporty type, would mistake my movements for “running.” The weather is perfect. The road is smooth and everybody around me cares less about how good I should look in my eccentric running-form. Halfway through the race I am almost regretting that this wonderful, easy, and breezy, moment will soon end. Immediately the body protests and pants back to my spirit: “This is ALL we will do now! No extra miles!”
Already I am planning my next race in 2013. This time I will run in an “easy” over 70 group, unless the other grandmothers have made there also. Thank you for a great race, Flick and all the others who created this event.