Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hitting 50

I'm 54 years old and I did something this week I haven't been able to do in more than five and a half years.  I ran 52 miles this week.  The week of mileage was capped by an easy 16 miler on a cool, blustery, sunny Sunday in South Fort Myers.

During the two and a half hours out on the roads I reflected back on why it had taken so long to reach a relatively easy amount of miles.  The answer is easy, health, health, and health.  Way back in 2004 I still weighed about 170 pounds and in the spring of that year was running 50 plus miles a week regularly.  I was in decent shape capable of running a 10K in under 42 minutes.

The wheels began to fall off in the late summer.  My diverticulitis was flaring up and would be aggravated by the slew of hurricanes that touched Southwest Florida.  Each time after Charley, Frances, and Jeannie, I would get sick.  Running with diviticulitis is very difficult because of the abdominal pain.  I knew that I was facing surgery sometime in early 2005 when my intestines finally gave out in early December 2004 while my wife and I walked down Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

The illness and resulting surgery was physically debilitating.  I lost a lot of weight and even by the third week of December was barely able to walk.  I wouldn't return to work until January and didn't even attempt jogging until late January.  I underwent a second round of surgery in February to reverse a colostomy the first surgery had left me with and once again I was physically spent.

It wasn't until April 2005 that I tried to start jogging again.  Running would take a backseat while I worked to rebuild a news operation in Topeka later in the year and by the middle of 2006 I had severe achilles tendonitis.  It was a problem I had suffered with for 16 years and I would undergo the first of two surgeries to repair both achilles.  The first surgery was December 2006, the second followed in May 2008.  Both operations put running on hold for about three months.

So 2009 was the first year I've managed to avoid the knife and get a decent amount of mileage.  Even now I'm not physically healthy.  Five months ago a massage therapist's over exuberance wrecked my right hip and touched off a case of sciatica, something I've never had to deal with before.  The pain only bothers me when I sit.  Running is the only time when right leg actually feels decent.

The end game is to attempt to run a Boston qualifier in the marathon.  I had hoped to do it this spring but I'm going to put the attempt on hold in hopes the hip begins to feel better and in an effort to build a better base.  If I can stay healthy I want to join my friend Craig Davidson next fall in St. George and try to run 3:35.  It will be Craig's 200th marathon.  It would be my 20th.  Here's to 50 mile weeks and marathon number 20.



  1. Dear John, this is great news, I wish you plenty of success as you pursue your training programme. Kind regards, Marc-Antoine de Fourchambault

  2. Show off!

    Okay, now that that's out of my system....congratulations! I know how important running is to you, and I'm glad you're able to fully immerse yourself in it the way you want to. You inspire me. Go Boston!