There are times when a run brings me back to 1980, when I was sprinting across the soccer pitches of my Dutch hometown, Nijmegen. That light and joyful feeling is ingrained in my brain and muscle memory. Other times, I feel like a 45-year-old struggling to breathe and move. Sunday was such a time.
The day was perfect in San Diego. Sunny, breezy, with stunning views from the start of this half marathon in Point Loma. The course was even, fast and wide open.
After 5 quick miles at or below a 7-minute pace, my form and pace collapsed. The heat got to me, my breakfast seemed immovable inside of me, and a familiar sensation came over me: my vision narrowed to the 10 feet in front of me, banishing the views, the joy of running and racing, the other runners, and the future beyond this immediate misery. Perhaps it is self-preservation, but all I could do was put one foot in front of the other. Barely. And when I stopped about 10 miles I wondered: how about all of those, hilly, technical, brutal 15 to 19 milers I have been doing north of LA with the Trail Runners on Sunday mornings?
Yes, I felt my age. But I did not despair. I recently wrote “Old is Good”, about Meb wining Boston: mind over matter, training and experience over youth. Now the British track star Jo Pavey has done it again. At age 40, this mother of two won the 10,000 meters in Zurich. “Jo Pavey has finally come of age at 40, can you say that?” the BBC commentator said.
Here are the final laps of this inspiring victory.