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The Press Box for February 5

By Staff | Feb 5, 2020

Had a few setbacks the past five years, but as I’ve said many times never give up. Seems like every time I start feeling like working out a little something gets in the way. Well I’m getting back on track. Brought out the old exercise bike and moved the treadmill from the back porch to the basement. Been trying to find time to put them to use for at least 30 minutes a day to start.

It’s tough when you are putting in 8-12 hours every day of the week. The past two weeks have been a rat race. From office work to meetings to writing to ball games. I went to the basement for a workout, got on the treadmill, turned on the radio, XM 60’s on 6 and the first tune was “No Time” by an old band named Guess Who.

Sometimes you just have to make time and in my case it’s either make time or do with out. I’ve always enjoyed running, so the treadmill is the best for me, I have been getting in about three miles a day at a nine minute pace. If I walk I try to get five miles at about 16 minutes a mile. You burn about the same amount of calories either way, but the nine minute jog takes less time, that’s my preference.

Hopefully I can stay healthy enough to continue. Running is the sport I really enjoy, but at my age you have to be realistic and not over work yourself. High school track season is just around the corner, these kids can really fly. I hope to see some of the track meets this season..

I used to put in anywhere from 5-10 miles a day back when I was in my late 20’s through my 40’s. I would train on the hills. I found that putting in four or five miles was a good way to work off tension. My running never followed any set pattern, I just knew that when I felt a little fat or my energy was a little taxed, if I put in some miles it brought me back to life and helped me sleep really well.

I see running as more than just a sport. It goes all the way back through history. There’s something very basic about it, it’s part of being human. And you do get that ‘runners high’ everyone talks about after you’ve covered a certain distance. I got it at least three times during my running days. Use to be when I felt depressed I would go on a five or six mile jaunt that would release those endorphins to make me high. It was worth all the pain to reach that plateau.

My running was always just for pleasure until I decided to start training for the old Elby’s Wheeling Distance Race. 12.4 miles on one of the toughest courses in the country. In 1978, 79, 80 and 81 the race was what I trained for all year. It drew around 1,200 runners from around the globe, including wheelchair entries. Bill Rogers was the number one ranked runner in the country and he always found his way to Wheeling.

During the 1979 race I hit the runners wall about seven miles in and felt like giving up. I kept going and at the nine mile mark I felt the runners high coming on. I had been cruising along at about a seven minute mile pace when I picked it up to around six minutes an found an endless supply of boundless energy.

I came in near the top 100 with a time of 1:23.54 or 6.73 per mile.

That’s when I decided to give a Marathon a try. Athens, Ohio, was the perfect one for me. Half flat and a few small hills, but nothing to big. I signed up, thinking I could maybe finished in four hours. Training five to six days a week for two months leading up to the race, with my longest run being 15 miles. The day of the race I felt ready. My stamina in the race seemed pretty good. I reached the six mile mark feeling terrific.

The crowds along the race course were great. Everything was so damn festive. So I figured I’d just keep going, I was rolling along, averaging 8 1/2 minute and 9 minute miles. Once I hit 13 , I was cruising, no way I would stop. Through 18 miles I still felt good, but the wall awaited me at the 19th. Yes, the wall of pain and exhaustion that everyone hits. How did I know I’d hit it? Because all I wanted to do was stop and cry and throw up!

It was tougher than I imagined it would be. My spirit died completely. I wanted to say the hell with it, I can’t do it, but the crowd kept pushing me on. They wouldn’t let me quit. As I agonized through the 19th mile, I told myself, ‘Hey, a miles easy to run. Even though it hurt really bad. I pretty much ran slowly, nearly a walk from mile 20-22. At 22, I realized there was only four miles left, so I’d alternately run 100 yards or so and walk 100 yards or so.

Then an amazing thing happened at the 24th mile. I suddenly got an unbelievable second wind that carried me to 6:30 miles the rest of the way. I mean I flew in, sprinting most of the way. I was overcome by that feeling; a feeling that tells you you can deal with anything life has in store.

After the race every part of me felt amazing. I had figured I would need to go home and collapse, but I actually found myself jogging another mile to cool down. My time for the marathon wasn’t great a little over 4 hours, but in reality I just wanted to finish. My only other marathon was the L.A. marathon which I ran in 1999 and finished in 3:51.

Here I am today, two heart attacks later, a stent in the LAD, bypass heart surgery, pace maker, three cancer operations, and still longing to knock off pounds and get back in better physical condition at the age of 69.

I’m telling this in hopes of giving some incentive to the young folks in our high schools. When you hit the track or play a sport, get in the best physical condition you possibly can and keep working to get better, you will never regret it as you grow older. My doctors all told me if I hadn’t been active, chances are I wouldn’t have made it this long. Most of the old guys at the gym will tell you the same thing.. Staying active and working out is a big part of keeping yourself healthy and feeling young. Of course you have to laugh alot too and keep a good attitude. Try it sometime you’ll like it. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com