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March 23, 2010 Fitness, Friends No Comments

I went to the College of San Mateo this afternoon for my weekly “track attack” workout. It was a gorgeous day on the hill, with Bay views that went on for miles. The baseball team was practicing on the adjacent field and they had great music playing to help pass the laps. Only a few community members were using the track, and I enjoyed the peacefulness of being there on a warm, sunny day.

Today’s workout was a mix of drills and a quasi-pyramid of decreasing lengths and increasing speeds. A woman caught my eye as I made my way around the track to complete the tasks on my workout log. She was visibly “older;” I placed her somewhere in her late-50s as I judged from a distance. She was working on the infield — 10-yard sprint, walk back to start; 20-yard sprint, walk back to start; etc… I saw her hitting 70-yard sprints at one point. I was impressed with her stamina and the obvious focus and determination with which she was running. As I came around the track the next time, she was laying down doing some serious core work, then popped up to do more sprinting. I had to admit that I was inspired by her! I was tired with every step I took, and yet thought, “As long as she’s out here giving it her all, so am I!”

I finished a 400-yard sprint and had a short rest before the next one when she approached me with, “Great job!” I stopped and replied with, “Likewise!” Each of us was looking the other over and I still placed her at late-50s. I’d love to know where she placed me. I detected a slight accent as we exchanged a few pleasantries about our respective approaches to track workouts. She asked if I compete, and I replied that I do and mentioned my triathlon endeavors. Before getting back to my workout, I returned the question. She lit up and said, “I do! Actually, I am a senior Olympian. I just won a gold medal in Australia!” She was beaming and it was contagious! Through the course of the next 60 seconds of conversation, she revealed that much of her motivation is beingĀ able to enjoy another glass of wine every night … and that she is 72 years old.

Oh.My.God. You’ve got to be kidding me!?!

Those were my actual words, and I’m pretty sure my face showed my utter surprise. It was meant as a compliment and I definitely let her know that I meant it as such. She said she competes at all of the “field-level events” because of her asthma, and that these events require attention to technique and persistence. We chatted just a minute longer about the art of competing, and she again congratulated me on my endeavors and said something like, “Keep it up! You’ve got awhile to go!”

As I finished up my workout and drove out of the parking lot, I thought to myself, “This woman is more than twice my age. She has likely been training and competing for as many years as I have been alive. What a role model!” It was humbling and inspiring all at once. I hope to run across her again at CSM or otherwise. I’d love to buy her a cup of coffee — or a glass of wine — and hear the rest of her story.


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