Thursday, April 2, 2015

Late bloomer

Today I had a speed work session that astonished me.

Stunned. And it's pouring behind me.
After waking up to a gray, rainy, dreary morning, the last thing I felt like doing was running fast. I felt more like crawling back under the covers and snuggling with my dog. But a mantra stuck in my head as I drove to the 2 mile loop at the retention pond where I do a lot of training. I read a statement on Runner's World (and for the life of me, I can't find the link) that said something like you have to run uncomfortable to run faster. So besides training us to run faster, speed work teaches runners to push out of their comfort zone. Similar to those really tough CrossFit workouts that Becky has me do.

I thought about that a lot when I ran my mile splits this morning. I had my Garmin set on pace, and as I glanced down at my watch during my splits, I saw that 7:30 split and tried to hold back. By 3/4 mile into each split, I was breathing really hard and starting to feel pretty uncomfortable. But I had that little rest period waiting for me at the mile mark, so I pushed ahead each time. Stopped to walk for about a minute, catch my breath, and let my heart rate come back down before pushing onto the next mile.

During mile 4, it started to rain again and I heard a huge clap of thunder. Ok then! Let's go! And I did, finishing that split at 7:36, the exact same time as mile 3. Thrilled to have negative splits, and consistent splits, I walked back to my car in the pouring rain, smiling and pumping my fist. I'm sure the people in their cars, who were waiting for the rain to pass, thought I was a complete lunatic.



Am I crazy?

I talk about the age thing a lot. I'm 52 years old. Everyone keeps saying "age is just a number". But you just try and get your head around it. This is the fastest and the strongest that I have ever run. I keep expecting the "inevitable decline" and it's not happening. I go to the doctor for my annual checkup and they don't know what to do with me, except to tell me they don't have many patients like me.

Who peaks in their 50s?


Apparently a lot of "late bloomers" like me. According to this article in Competitor magazine, Tim Noakes notes that most of the best runners after age 45 were late starters, runners who started in their late 20s and 30s. Elite runners tend not to run faster into old age, and some of this is due to cummulative high mileage. Experts recommend older runners utilize a low mileage training plan with cross training to preserve those muscles.

Ok, so I'm doing that. But how long can I keep this up? Will menopause change things for me? A few years ago, a woman came up to me after yoga and told me once I go through menopause, I won't be able to run anymore. Waa waa, Debbie Downer, I know that's not true--look at Kathy Martin, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Christine Kennedy, Sharon Vos, Margaret Webb...to name a few. These ladies are all still blazingly fast. And while I'm not even comparing myself to them, it's helpful to see that there are women still out there getting it done and in impressive fashion, too!


The key to all this, I think, is to keep moving. Run 4 days/week. Strength training. Yoga. All the stuff I do.

Because what is it that Tom Petty says? "If you don't run, you rust..." lyrics from Big Weekend

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I'm just thinking out loud with Amanda Running with Spoons! Be sure to check out the other blogs to see what everyone else is thinking about...







And with Jill Conyers' Fitness Friday!

84 comments :

  1. Wow Wendy. I can hit those paces in 1/2 mile speed sessions (and when it's not humid), but haven't tried full miles! That's awesome. I want to be a late bloomer too! Yep, I worry about the menopause thing. That may be my issue now, but I'll just keep plugging away. You inspire me to keep at it. I don't want to rust. :) Holly

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    1. Everything I read was overwhelmingly positive about post menopausal exercise IF you keep active! That's the goal here!

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  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE You go girl!! You are crushing it!

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    1. I plan on it! I'm just kind of sitting here stunned tho!

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  3. This is so funny. I just wrote a similar post that I will publish next week.

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  4. can I peak in my 60's. Yes since I didn't start til my 50s.

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    1. Well, I don't know about that, but I"m riding this wave as long as I can!

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  6. Hmm, I don't know if I agree with that saying from runners world. During one of the fastest races i've run, I felt very comfortable and natural! But then again, perhaps I could have done even better had I pushed more!

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    1. I guess I took it to mean during training...anyways, it worked for me today!

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  7. Oh my gosh, I never ran that fast in my life! You are AMAZING! I wouldn't give any credence to that 'after menopause' thing...

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    1. I can't say yet...I'm not quite there! But I don't think I'll pay attention to it!

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  8. Rock on, Wendy! Love that you are only getting better with age! The same doesn't apply to me ( I'm slowing down!) but I've been running for aong time. I also don't have the mental energy to care that much about speed improvement anymore, so I have to embrace it. It's all good though!

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    1. It is all good! We have to be where we are at. I'm just not ready to slow down yet!

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  9. I love this Wendy....and that is fast! You are 52....I'm 41....that gives me about 11 years to get to your pace if I keep working at it....thanks for giving me something to look forward to! www.momontherunsanity.com

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    1. LOL! In my 40s I wasn't running like this. My kids were young and I didn't have time to train like I do now. Yep, you can do it!

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  10. You are an inspiration, Wendy! You run faster than most runners in their 20s and 30s (including me)! Keep on being awesome and kicking butt. Wish I was there to see the fist pumping. ;)

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  11. I think you are amazing, and a total inspiration! :)

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  12. Glad to see you are in such a great place with your running! Really motivating :)

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  13. Totally love this post! I'm a late bloomer, also...I've only been running for about 10 years. And for those first three years, I did mostly 5K's...nothing shorter, nothing longer. It wasn't until I spread my wings and ventured out of the comfort zone that I truly found my calling. I'm not even sure of the count, but I have run about 25 halfs/20K's, several 10-milers, and a couple of full marathons. Next on tap is an ultra (50K) this summer. I do not plan on stopping any time soon, either :-) Like you, I keep my miles moderate because I want to preserve this running thing for as long as possible, and I cross-train to keep everything in balance. Thanks for all the inspiration!!

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    1. There won't be any ultras in my future--I'm not interested in running farther than a half, but I'm all over supporting my friends by running part of it with them!

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  14. Nice work Wendy!! Way to crush those intervals! They say you have 7 years of improvement before age related declines, sometimes up to 10 years of improvement if you're not a real high mileage runner. Keep up the good work - I look forward to hearing you crushing more PRs!

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    1. I've heard that stat too, I think I'll prove that wrong as well... :p

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  15. Nice speedy splits. I am still gunning for PRs even though some of them are dusty and were achieved when I had younger legs. I think that if I train smarter (like you: yoga, strength training) and lower the mileage, I can come close. It sure beats thinking I can't and laying on the couch! :)

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    1. Absolutely! I'm still in shock about today! I hope I can keep this going!

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  16. Whew, I was actually just noticing the name of your blog, and I'm gonna say age is nothing but a number either. Your splits are amazing and super-impressive! I think exercising keeps people young, and I will definitely affirm that patients who exercise and take care of themselves are [very unfortunately] very far and few between!

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    1. So true! And that's why I don't take care of adults...so many health issues related to lifestyle!

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  17. i love this - i'm a much better runner in my 30s than i was in high school and i think some of that comes with determination. i just didn't put in the same amount of work i do now. i look forward to continuing to get stronger and faster, like you! :)

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    1. I'm really happy with how this is working out!

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  18. I think you are absolutely right...there's a lame commercial for some pill that says "a body in motion stays in motion" and that quote really sticks with me! Your fitness and peak is so encouraging to me--the best is yet to be!

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    1. I think so! I'm looking forward to seeing what's to come! who knew?

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  19. You make me want to lace up my running shoes and get after it! I will be 45 in July, THANK YOU for the inspiration! You ROCK!

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    1. Clearly, it's never too late to start! I had no idea my 50s were going to be like this!

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  20. This is so inspiring!! You are amazing - thank you for sharing this with us!! Gives me the determination I need to never give up and never listen to anyone else's expectations of me

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    1. Isn't that the truth? I've heard from so many people that tell me to slow down...smh...

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  21. I believe we only get better with age, we are much more wise and know ourselves better! Keep doing what you are doing it's inspiring and great!

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    1. I believe that too, but I figured that physically, it wouldn't be the same. Turns out I'm wrong!

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  22. Wendy you are amazing! I'm definitely a better runner now at 47 than I was when I was younger. Smarter too :)

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    1. Well, there's that whole smarter thing! With age comes wisdom, right?

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  23. Wow, those are amazing splits. I think you are definitely finding your groove. I hope that in 10 years, I'm in the same place as you! Way to get it done!

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    1. I'm still in shock! I hope I can keep this up for my marathon training!

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  24. Love it girl!!! Although for me, I was much faster in my 20's, but I am happy with still movin' forward!! I have to remember I started running when I was in my teens. And that was a LONG time ago, LOL!

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    1. I didn't run in my 20s, so I fall into that late starter category!

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  25. I am so amazed by your story. Good for you! Stay inspired and inspiring!!!

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  26. You are awesome!!! Great job!!!!

    Jen@jpabstfitness

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  27. I saw your splits photo on FB & thought way to go!! :) I am faster now in my late 30's after having a baby than I was 10 years ago, by a huge margin. (Well maybe not right NOW, at 39 weeks pregnant, but you get the idea).

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    1. I get it! And you'll be back and even better after this baby comes!

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  28. Rock on, Wendy!!! WAY TO PUSH THROUGH! Doesn't it make you feel super bad-ass to do an amazing run in the rain? The feeling of empowerment is one that only runners will understand. =)

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    1. Absolutely! That's the whole point of the blog--to connect with like minded folks!

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  29. OMG I LOVE this post!! I did start running later in life and I feel great. I turned 50 last year and have never felt stronger in my life. I train about the same way you do...approx 4 days running the rest cross training. Keeping my half marathons at sub 2 hours keeps me happy and I hope to be able to do that for years and years to come. Your above splits were killer and pumping your fists is exactly what you should have been doing!! Rock on!! Have an awesome weekend Wendy!

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  30. I have friends who are seeing the same thing you are, this wicked bump up in speed as we get older. I think it is awesome! I read somewhere that men's speed decrease with age, but women have a potential to get faster!

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  31. Way to go pushing yourself!! I find sometimes that throwing in a fast mile makes my legs wake up and the rest of the run goes faster too, although not always... sometimes it just wears me out. as I approach 40 I was wondering if I had already peaked but after hitting a 5k PR recently I am wondering if that peak is still out there. I love it.

    I only usually run 4 days a week also and yoga at least 3 times a week with strength training 2-3 times a week.

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    1. I figured I peaked a long time ago. I never knew that you could get faster this late in life. Just goes to show you...keep pushing!

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  32. I am a late bloomer too and you are giving me hope that the best is yet to come! When I go to races- my age group (45-49) is always packed and they are fast! The next age group is no better! I am just going to keep at it- some of us just age like fine wine :) Love it! Have a great Easter weekend!

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    1. 50-54 age group is better! There are a lot less women running at this age. The ones at the top are still really fast, tho!

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  33. Wow. So impressive. I have slowed down so much in the last couple of years. Once I get my knee better I need to work on reversing that. My friend, Darlene, who is my age (61) is hitting PR after PR!!!

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    1. It's been fun to watch Darlene getting all these PRs!!!

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  34. YEAHHH I adore you for tackling this topic. It's something I'm working on sharing more about because I don't want people to fall in to the "too old" trap!

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  35. You are a force! Total badass and I love it!

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  36. This is awesome and so inspiring! I love that you were able to bring the pace faster, get uncomfortable, and rock it!

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    1. Me too! Let's see if I can ride this wave for a while!

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  37. Do not listen to that Debbie Downer about not being able to run after menopause. I had my best racing season ever last summer at the age of 56!

    If any of the people in those cars waiting for the rain to stop were runners, they would have completely understood someone dressed in running clothes pumping her fist after finishing a run in the rain, even if they didn't know what a badass workout you'd just completed! :-)

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  38. I personally think we just get better with age. I'm better now at 35 than when I was 25 or even 30! Keep running and being lunatical ;)

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    1. I have to agree with you...I just had no idea it would continue!

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  39. I've been thinking of "have to run uncomfortable to run faster" during many of my runs as of late (especially for the shorter distances. I tend to fall back to my comfortable long run pace - lately I've been telling myself it should feel uncomfortable.

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    1. I can see why people don't like to push it too hard...it doesn't feel good at the time you're doing it but whoa! those fast finishes sure feel great!

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  40. It's awesome to see that strength! and of course you run after menopause. You are defying aging and I love it!
    I guess I feel a little beat up this year with my stress fracture, but I keep pushing along on the recovery path.

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    1. It's all we can do! I'm feeling a little "old" this morning after my epic workouts last week!

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