Hi guys! The It’s Not Just Me series (1 – Karen, 2 – Pearl, 3 – Elle, 4 – Sarah, 5-Tanya, 6 – Melissa, 7- Maria) has been really popular and it’s been so much fun hearing everyone’s story. Believe it or not, there are still other awesome features in the works. Consider this an ongoing series, which will be featured on Mondays, though not every Monday (life, life life, you know how it is!)
For the next FOUR chilly weeks, I’m starting a new series on Wednesdays called Good Health. May these posts be the something you need to get motivated in this frigid weather. It is COOLDDD!
Today’s post is an article I wrote in 2007 (when I was a baby of 24) for work’s newspaper. It is in honor of Frank Pierce and the thousands of other older runners who remind us never to underestimate someone based on age. Side note. After completing my first marathon, Frank checked my finish time online and emailed me the next day to congratulate me and to tell me that he thought I could run faster. Can’t beat that=).
Why I Ran My First Marathon
It’s common to see people at my age running. I’m 24 and the streets and trails of the DC Metropolitan area are full of avid young and even middle aged runners.
With every race I’ve run, there is inevitably someone older who challenges the rest of the pack to pick up the pace. When I see someone older running alongside me in a 5k, 10k or any race for that matter, I marvel hoping that when I get to their age I will be just as healthy. A second later, I snap out of it and my legs shift to a higher gear. After all, when someone twice or even three times your age passes you, there’s really no excuse not to kick it up a notch.
Recently, I’ve discovered many older Americans challenging people like me to be more active. Unknowingly, the lives they lead are inspiring their children, their grandchildren and the rest of the younger generation to keep active even into their golden years. They’re making me and all of us “kids” keep up with them by running faster, longer, and further.
Meet Frank Pierce. He’s not my age, or even my dad’s. He’s 84 years old and a member of the Riderwood fitness center where I work.
When I see Frank, I always ask, “How much did you run yesterday?”
Sometimes he’ll say three miles, sometimes four. Whatever the distance I always challenge myself to run the same.
Remarkably, Pierce has been running all his life, but like many others he began exercising later on for health reasons.
“I was 58 years old,” said Pierce, “and I went for a physical and my doctor. looked at me with a disapproving eye and he said, ‘you should get some exercise.’”
“I was working at Capital Hill…and during lunchtime I looked down at the mall and saw a bunch of people running and I thought, ‘I can do that.’”
And he did. He ran on his own for about the next ten years. He then joined the Montgomery County Road Runners Club of which he has been a member for the past 25 years. After joining the MCRRC, Pierce decided to run his first marathon. He was 71 at the time.
How many marathons has Frank run?
“I’ve run other races…the Marine Corp…the Cleveland Marathon.” He stopped to think for second, “…Five, not very impressive,” said Frank.
“Once you start you figure you’ll do better the next time and I did. After the first one, for two years, my time got faster. Best time I finished in was just under 4 hours.”
I don’t know if Frank knows but when he runs, he makes people like me run too. It just so happens that my goal has always been to run a marathon and ironically, I want to run at least one in under four hours. I had put it off for awhile, maybe out of fear that my body might fall apart after 26 miles. This spring though I finally did it. I signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon, and this fall, I’ll be running.
I figured if Frank ran five, I can at least run one and maybe a few more after.
NEXT WEEK: Sneak peak! I interviewed Suzy Goodwin, a marathoner mommy with triplets, who is shooting to run a marathon in every state by the time she turns 40. Check back next Wednesday for How to Get Your Grandparent Moving!