Last Long Run at 52

This week’s run was my last long run at 52. On Monday I turn 53 and will continue to remind my self that I’m still in my early 50’s.

This week we ran the same Sunday Long Run route that we ran week six, the Winchester Highland route. Three weeks ago it was around 90°, sunny and humid. Nothing that a runner likes.

This week it was in the high 50’s, overcast with a light drizzle. Eventually it rained and everything was soaked through. Near the end I just ran through the puddles because it didn’t matter anymore.

Last Long Run

Most runners have considered their last run, long or short. Usually this thought pops into a runner’s head when they are layed up with an injury and have way too much time to think.

With a nagging, persistent injury it can feel like your running days are over. When the pain just wont go away, it’s easy to wonder if you have had your last long run.

It’s not like facing down a life threatening illness, but it can feel like your life will never be the same again. Runners have lots of running friends. While running can be a solitary sport, often a big part of a runner’s social life is built around running. The people and socializing are one of the wonderful things about running.

The thought of loosing so much of your social life can be depressing.

Then there is the fitness and health running gives to you. If you can’t run how will you maintain your weight and youthful vigor? When Boston had the record winter two years ago I was in peak condition from training for three marathons. I shoveled for the entire season and never really ran out of steam.

If I had not been a runner and spent so much time focused on being in shape, that winter would have been much more difficult.

Running and aging

Getting older is just part of life. As my Dad says, it sure beats the alternative.

In my mind, life is a series of taking fall-back positions. Your life is under a constant assault by time and eventually you have to yield your position in order to continue the fight.

This is a military concept so I may not have a full understanding of how a battle is conducted. But I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

When you are young, your body will take a lot of abuse and bounce back quickly. When we are young we probably do a lot of damage to our bodies because it’s easy to bounce back and compensate.

I used to carry anything that my hands and arms could hold onto. I could load and carry around 50lb bags of cement. It would have been smarter to use a cart and my back wouldn’t hurt so much today.

Now I am much more careful about carrying heavy items and use back support when I do.

As a runner I have also learned a lot about preventing and managing injuries. I’ve hurt my self while running several ways, now I manage those situations and generally avoid injuries from them.

Pain is a powerful teaching tool! You can read about what to do and not to do. But often the lesson does not resonate until you go out and do something stupid.

A few years ago I dreamed of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. After trying a few times and going through various injuries I question that quest. My fall back position is to run fewer marathons and not worry about Boston.

Long distance running can be brutal on the body. I have even considered giving up the marathon and only running halfs, 10K and 5K races. I’m just not there yet but I feel that my position could be over-run at any time.

Older and Wiser?

53 isn’t really that old. My parents are 88 and 89. I should have at least another 35 years on this earth.

Many of us felt like we knew everything when we were 17 or 20 and definitely at 30. We were just fooling our selves. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize there is so much to learn. What you thought at 40 is laughable at 50.

I can only imagine looking back at today when I am 63. What opportunities did I miss? Oh the mistakes I made! What can’t I do at 63 that I could do at 53? What silly ideas did I hold to be true?

I may be wiser in that I know I can hurt my self. I know injuries can take a long time to heal and some never truly go away. The same can be said about relationships.

I know some lessons are never truly learned until the bridge has been crossed. You cannot understand what it means to be a parent until you are. You cannot understand true joy until your heart is busting and your eyes are full of tears. You cannot understand loss until there is an emptiness that cannot be filled.

Life’s lessons are learned through joy and loss, pleasure and pain.

Last Long Run at 52

This week’s run was much more enjoyable. While I do not enjoy running in the rain, it is much better than running in the heat. I teamed up with Freddie Pare early in the run when we figured out we had the same goal pace: 9:30.

My running mate from last week, Stephanie was there again this week. I was glad to see her return after that 18 miler from last week. I think she ran the half distance this week as I didn’t see her after the first half mile or so.

last long run, marathon trainingI won’t give you turn by turn details since they are the same as week six. It was nice to run the same course in better weather. Freddie and I agreed that it was a great way to gauge your progress.

This route has the most hills of any course in our series. For week six I ran the course at a 10:46 pace. This week my pace was 9:41! A few weeks of “training” helped but I think the weather made the most difference.

last long run, week nine elevation map

I’ve never run with Freddie so we had a great conversation and pulled each other along.

I left the charging cable for my watch at work and it died Saturday night. This week I used “Run Keeper” as a replacement.

I haven’t used Run Keeper in a few years and used it to replace my watch then also. At the time Run Keeper was new and everyone around me was fascinated by the time pace and distance announcements coming from my phone.

I liked Run Keeper because it has some nice details and uses cell towers instead of satellites, so it links up faster. What I didn’t like about Run Keeper was trying to start a race, start Run Keeper and get my phone stowed away in a moving crowd of runners. And on rainy days I hated taking my phone on a run.

During our run today I stopped to use a porta-pottie at a construction site. It was very dark in there so I had to be careful not to drop anything. So I didn’t take my phone out to stop Run Keeper. As I was looking for hand sanitizer Run Keeper reverberated in the porta-pottie announcing my current distance pace etc. I could hear Freddie outside laughing.

Run well my Friends!


Senior Circuit Running

This past week I have been away for a business and visiting with my parents.

While I did a lot of walking, I also did a lot of eating, a fair bit of drinking and got no proper exercise.

Senior Circuit

My parents live in a development in Florida. It seems theses developments are everywhere in Florida. There’s is for people 55 and older.

After a day or so to rest and recover from a super busy work week, I decided I should go for a run. The road that loops around their development is a little over a mile long, so I figured I would do a few loops.

Unlike a native Floridian, I didn’t go out for my run before the sun came up. I went out around 10AM and it was already about 80°. I had my running shoes, socks and shorts. I did not have a running shirt, hat or sun glasses!

I started out on my first loop and shortly felt like I was ready to put down a deposit. The last time I ran it was 40° out and very low humidity. It’s winter in Massachusetts!

This felt like July in Massachusetts and I was not acclimated. After a half mile I felt a little better, but was already sweating. My Boston Red Sox hat was roasting my head and my t-shirt was way too much clothing.

I saw a family of five casually rollerblading and a few old folks cycling or walking. I think I was the only person breaking a sweat! The folks were out doing the circuitous route around the park.

Probably the last time they saw someone sweating and breathing like me they called 911! I felt like crap and I’m sure looked like a ponchy middle-aged man.

I completed my first loop at about 1.4 miles and had to do another. I decided to slow down and even walk a bit. The distance was more important than speed.

Surviving the Senior Circuit

As I started my second loop I passed a guy in shorts and Florida shirt holding back two little dogs. The dogs were yapping furiously at me and it looked like the old guy was working to hold them back. “That’s me in a few years” I said to my self. And not too many years!

A little further down the road I took my first walk break. It was so hot and I was sweating like July. My sun screen and sweat had trapped little bugs on my arms and legs. They seemed to be dead.

As I started to run again, I looked for any shade to help me along. There was none. All of the trees were only about 8 to 10 feet tall and the sun was high in the sky. On the far side of the park I found maybe 50 feet of shade to run in but it was still hot and not enough.

As I came around the bend to complete my second lap, I decided that was enough. I’m not in great shape and this was extreme conditions for me.

I managed to get in 2.75 miles. While I felt lucky to have accomplished that much, I also felt like I was being a wimp. Sometimes you have to eat your pride and do the smart thing.

Run well my Friends,


Cresting Hills

Sunday we ran our final long run before the Boston Marathon.

12.58 miles of hills and good company. There is great joy in being out on a long run with friends on a great day. The freedom experienced while running is unlike anything else I have experienced.

Feeling the sun on your face and the air fill your lungs. That is living. The burn in your legs as you push up the hills and the feeling of acceleration at the crest as gravity falls away like a heavy load.

Cresting Hills

In life we are constantly pushing up hills that make us question our journey. Why does it have to be so difficult? Why are there always these damn hills? Did we make a wrong turn somewhere along the way?

Cresting the hill, Campobello 2014The joy is in reaching the crest. That point at which we can see the other side. The moment we know the hill, the challenge, has not beaten us. The challenge has been met. We will push forward and we will be stronger for the next challenge.

What ever hills you are facing believe that you will crest the hill. If you believe that you can, then you can. Sometimes you just need to hold on and live to fight another day.

Run well my friends and thank you for your support.


If you would like to help FamilyAid Boston crest their hill please click here.

50 5Ks and beyond

Race Name Date Location Finish time Result
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 9/17/14 Wakefield 21:39 14th
Granara-Skerry 5K 9/27/14 Medford 21:33 29th
Baystate Marathon 10/19/14 Lowell 3:49:27 701st
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 10/22/14 Wakefield * *
Melrose YMCA Spooky Sprint 5K 10/25/14 Melrose 21:37 2nd Place M50-59
5K Stride for the Saugus Y 11/8/14 Saugus 23:29 3rd Place M50-59
Burbank YMCA 5K 11/22/14 Wakefield 22:50 19th
DCR Turkey Trot 5K 11/23/14 Saugus 23:04 *
Boston Volvo National MS Society 5K 11/27/14 Brighton 22:42 114th
Cambridge Winter Classic 5K 12/7/14 Cambridge 21:42
Assault on Mt. Hood 3.6 Mile 12/13/14 Melrose 25:58 104th
Jingle Bell Run 5K 12/14/14 Somerville 23:44 543rd
SRR Club Run 5K 12/22/14 Somerville * *
Castaway Cay 5K 1/3/15 Bahamas * *
Derry 16 Miler 1/25/15 Derry, NH 2:23 202nd
Super Sunday 5K 2/1/15 Cambridge 22:21 3rd Place M50-59
Smuttynose Palooza 5K 3/7/15 Salisbury 21:53 51st
Running of The Leprechauns 5K 3/14/15 Medford 21:40 1st Place M50-59
Nutty Irish 2.7 Mile Snow Shoe Race 3/21/15 Salem 30:48 *
April Fool’s 4 Miler 3/28/15 Salisbury 29:19 88th
Cambridge City Run 5 Miler 3/29/15 Cambridge 37:34 *
Great Bay Half Marathon 4/12/15 New Market, NH 1:51
Cambridge Spring Classic 5K 4/26/15 Cambridge 22:30 *
Healthy Melrose 5K 5/2/15 Melrose 23:10 3rd Place M50-59
Boys & Girls Club 3.5 Miler 5/3/15 Woburn 25:56 37th
Pine Hill Little League 5K 5/9/15 Lynn 21:38 1st Place Male
Harpoon 5 Miler 5/17/15 South Boston 36:46
Boston’s Run to Remember Half 5/24/15 Boston 1:46 954th
New Balance Foundation 5K 5/30/15 East Boston 22:43 4th place 18+
Hallmark Health 5K 6/6/15 Wakefield 22:30 1st Place M50-59
JP Morgan Corp Challenge 3.5 6/11/15 Boston
Samantha’s Harvest 5K 6/14/15 Reading 23:13 16th
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 6/17/15 Wakefield 23:59 22nd
BAA 10K 6/21/15 Boston 51:34 1504th
Brendan’s Home Run 5K 6/21/15 Belmont * 273rd
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 6/24/15 Wakefield 23:30 24th
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 7/1/15 Wakefield 23:25 15th
Lynnfield 4th of July 5K 7/4/15 Lynnfield 22:26 3rd Place M50-59
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 7/8/15 Wakefield 24:02 20th
Marathon Sports Trail Run 7/9/15 Medford
Marathon Sports Trail Run 7/16/15 Medford
Mystic River 5K 7/18/15 Medford 23:30 24th
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 7/22/15 Wakefield 22:27 28th
Moving Beyond Witness 5K 7/25/15 Medford 22:33 8th
Maine Lobsterfest 10K 8/2/15 Rockland, ME 48:47 58th
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 8/5/15 Wakefield 22:52 20th
SRR Club Run 5K 8/10/15 Somerville 22:49
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 8/12/15 Wakefield 22:00 17th Course PR
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 8/19/15 Wakefield 22:27 17th
Mystic’s Lake Q 5K 8/26/15 Somerville 22:02 17th
Cure SMA 5K 8/29/15 Wakefield 21:17 1st M50-59

I’ve sat down to write this post several times now. I guess I’m still sorting out how I feel about the challenge being met, not having a goal to focus on and what does it mean.

I think most of us like goals. There’s the feeling that what we are doing has some purpose beyond just the doing. The feeling that each step gets us closer to that something that we want.

My running goal was my way to celebrate and embrace turning 50. I didn’t want to go out and eat a big fancy dinner or buy an expensive bottle of bourbon. I didn’t want to consume, I wanted to experience.

I’d like to think that 50 years old is half-way. In many ways I’m in my prime and in many ways the glory days are over. That’s life, can I get 50 more years please?

Running 50 5Ks was a long term project. As such I got to think about and appreciate where I am many times throughout the year.

My life isn’t perfect and there are things I wish I could change, but that’s life.

Running 50 5ks was a way to celebrate my health. I have friends who never made it to 50. Before many races during the year I thought about how lucky I am to be able to do this. To want to do this.

Now that the goal has been met and one race beyond, I’m not sure how I feel.

Do I feel worthy of claiming success of a goal I set for my self? Did I set the bar too low?

I don’t know.

Running 51 races in 51 weeks wasn’t easy. I did give up many leisurely nights at home. I had to plan ahead and stay on top of my schedule.

Looking for, registering for and running all of those races took a level of focus not unlike that required to prepare for and run a marathon.

I didn’t cross a single starting line without thinking I could go all in. Even when I felt tired or sore I always ran all in.

Even in the rain on Father’s Day for the BAA 10K I had a good time. Maybe even a great time.

Maybe I discovered how much I love to run. Why else would I do this? How else could I do this?

I firmly believe that you have to want something in order for it to be a goal. Moving towards it and achieving it has to give you satisfaction. There has to be purpose to the effort.

Only a leader or a lover can create a want outside of yourself. You want to achieve to make them happy. Their happiness is your happiness.

You have to want something in your heart in order for it to be a goal. It may be to please a leader or a lover or it may be to please yourself. Without joy in the doing and achieving, the effort and accomplishment are meaningless. Mere tasks and obligations.

My Journey

I had many moments of joy while running these races. There were times when I felt I was in the best place possible and doing the best thing possible. I met new friends and and got to know old friends better.

During one race in Wakefield I was running down Rt. 129 by the lake with four other guys. We were in the road hugging the parked cars trying not to get hit. I laughed to my self that we were crazy to be running balls to the wall in traffic. Then the thrill of the run hit me. We were racing each other and no one was letting up. If any one of us had slowed just a bit someone could have gotten hurt.

The thrill may have been from the danger. I trusted these guys because I knew they were runners and just like me, they knew what they were doing. No one was going to do anything stupid and all of us trusted our bodies to carry us through this dangerous section.

I felt great joy running with guys who had the same focus and intensity that I did. I didn’t pass all of those guys, but I did pass one or two, and they didn’t make it easy. Finishing that race and running with those guys was a great time. None of us came in first, but we all killed it that night. What a run!

As I put together this list of races I was able to recall moments from each race like it was yesterday. Not the entire race, but at least a few special moments from each one. I don’t recall every moment of that night on Route 129, but I’ll never forget that stretch of road.

My Races

You will note that some races on my list are 10Ks, half-marathons and then there’s the Derry 16-Miler. You will also note that a few races were less than 5K.

The Nutty Irish Snow Shoe race was supposed to be a 5K, but the conditions were so poor they had to change the course.

It was my first race in snow shoes and it was an adventure. Less then a dozen of us ran in snow shoes and mine were hiking snow shoes. I’ll never forget that one!

Taking into account my slightly longer races, I think my average is well over 5K per race.

A few wins along the way

I actually won a race for the first time this year! Two women finished ahead of me, but I was the First Place Man at the Pine Hill Little League 5K in Lynn!

It was a small race but there were plenty of guys there younger than me. Even after I passed the last guy in front of me, I expected someone to come jogging by me barely breaking a sweat! I was shocked when the race director walked up to me and told me she had a trophy for me! Another unforgettable moment.

This year I came in first in my age group 3 times, second place once and 3rd place four times. Sometimes I still cannot believe it.

50 5Ks and one big lesson

Now that it is over, how do I feel?

With 8 age group top three finishes and a race win, I definitely went after my goal. I took this seriously and worked at it. I’ve never run this well or gone this long without an injury.

I put in my time in the gym for strength and stretching and that made a big difference. I made a plan and I stuck with it.

As I’ve sat down to write this post so many times, I never felt the joy that I felt while running. I guess I thought I would feel that joy or a sense of accomplishment when I reflected on my year. But I do not.

The lesson I have drawn from my experience this year is that the joy is in the doing.

Run well my friends,


© 2015 andrew nagelin

Quest for 50 5Ks

The Quest for 50 5Ks is coming to a close

Tonight I’ll be running my 50th official race since turning 50 last September.

April fool's 4 miler
At the finish

There were times I thought that I’d never make it. When the snow banks were over 6′ high and the tempts were 20º low, it looked doubtful. A managed to have a strong fall running season, a middling winter season and took the spring and summer by storm.

There were weeks when I would run two or three races in a week. Not all race were big events, some were not even officially timed, such as the Marathon Sports trail runs.

Last night a few friends were egging me on as to what my next challenge will be. 50 5Ks in 6 months? Other crazy ideas I didn’t even listen to. Some people think personal challenges are foolish.

We all face challenges every day and quite often we prevail. Often failure to prevail teaches us more than success. Often we feel unworthy of our success or that some how it came too easy and we should have worked harder or set a higher goal.

Many times after a hard race where there were moments I felt like I just might die, I’ve berated myself for letting up for that moment. That moment of doubt and softness of will. In the moment I was all in, afterwards it somehow did not feel like enough.

Are we worthy of our success?

Somehow saying we succeeded seems boastful and immodest. Some people brag of their success. I prefer to make note of them but feel embarrassed when others make note of anything I do. I’m just an average middle-aged guy doing what I love. How could there be anything notable or remarkable about that?

I know when I tell people about what I am doing I am often talking to people who would not or could not do the same. When I casually say what my goals are sometimes I feel embarrassed when I then find out the other person has different goals than I do. But why?

We all have something to overcome. A goal to achieve, a place we want to be in our lives. Each goal is as unique as the individual who holds it. We should all be in awe of the person who finally gets off the couch and decides to take control of their lives. Their goal may simply be to walk a first 5K. They don’t care about running.

We should all be in awe of the folks who come in last at the race. Any race. They are the ones who have struggled the most. They are the ones who battled the daemons with the greatest valor. They had to overcome all of the doubt and butt cushion inertia to keep going.

Now that I am near the end of my quest I ask my self, did I accomplish anything? Why? Was it worth it? I’m not sure that running 50 5Ks is much of an accomplishment. I ran all of my races as hard as I could, won one of them and had a few age group awards. So I guess I ran competitively. I tried not to take anything for granted or make any race just another one to check off on my quest.

It took a lot of focus, planning and determination to hit my goal. It took a lot to run each race at 100% of what ever I had at the time. Sometimes it seemed crazy and I wondered why I’m doing this and why continue? Why am I chasing this crazy goal?

With great humility and respect for everyone I run with I must say that I did succeed. I will reach my goal tonight. I don’t know what it will mean or how I will feel when I make that last turn and run into the parking lot. I hope that at least for a few moments I will feel worthy.

*This is extemporaneous and un-edited.

Run well my friends!


5K number 48

5K 48 has been run!

I ran race number 48 Wednesday night at Lake Q with the Mystics. We had a good crew show up and very good conditions.

I wore my new Saucony Kinvara 5 shoes and felt pretty good. This was my first race and first run in these shoes and I wasn’t sure what to expect. My “go to shoe” is the Brooks Adrenaline GTS. A nice solid shoe for neutral pronation.

The Kinvara’s are lighter and you can see how they have taken some of the stylish extras out to remove weight. The shoes are still flashy but they definitely have less mass and are much more flexible.

I had a few worries about running on uneven pavement, sand and dirt paths. I’ve never worn such a light shoe before. Everything worked out fine and I was able to run at 100%.

The elusive PR and pleasant surprises

My finish time was 22 minutes even. A course PR but still way off my “official” PR time of 21:11. I ran that PR race in New Market, NH at the Beyond the Rainbow 5K in 2014. This 5K runs the first two miles of the Great Bay Half and then peels off back into town.

My PR race was short! My Garmin had Beyond The Rainbow at 2.92 miles. Club Loco has a lot of experience with races but there is no way I cut corners enough to cut 0.18 miles off of that race. I was happy to see the PR, but the course was short by almost 0.20 miles!. I always think of that race with an asteric in my mind.

Running bib, number 1, 5kIf I set aside Beyond The Rainbow, my 5K PR actually happened earlier this year. At the Pine Hill Little League 5K in Lynn, I ran 21:38 and was the first place male. I even got a trophy and ran with bib #1! Just a crazy day. That course was accurate within the standard margin of error.

I picked Pine Hill randomly. I needed a 5K, Lynn is fairly close, price was good and I figured what the heck. I’d never run a 5K in Lynn before.

I guess the moral of the story is that you just never know when you are going to run that PR. You can just show up and not be particularly well-trained and run well. You can also follow a program, be disciplined and run an average race or worse. Life is full of surprises.

I’ve worked hard and been disappointed. In Lynn I was totally shocked. I ran my ass off but when I showed up that morning I never expect to be first and run a PR.

I appreciate that I can run and make myself run really hard. I’m not the fastest guy out there but I run every race as hard as I can, almost always on the edge. Running makes me feel alive and that is something to be grateful for.

Run well my friends!

© 2012 Andrew Nagelin