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Lost opportunities?

Boney Mountain
I joined the usual throng of Terrigal Trotters at Terrigal beach this morning for the regular Saturday 6:00am run.  I was sad not to be joining them for "Bob's Hill", another of my favourites, but reflected that I was lucky to be there walking and sharing time with friends.  Several Trotters who share my demographic are dealing with significant health issues, including one who recently suffered a more serious and life-threatening episode of Pulmonary Embolism than me.  Fortunately, he seems to be on the road to recovery, but it's another reminder to live for today, particularly when you get older.

A year ago, almost to the day, I enjoyed one of my happiest racing experiences for some time.  Sharon and I were on the last day of a three-week vacation in the western U.S., and ran in the Boney Mountain Trail Half Marathon west of Los Angeles.  After a steady start, I worked my way through the field in the second half, which included a 2000ft climb, and after a helter-skelter descent, finished in 18th place in a field of over 300.  The next runner in the 60+ division was 33 minutes behind.  I didn't believe I could still run so fast and thought then that it was likely to be the racing highlight of 2013 for me, and that's how it turned out.

Reaching the bottom of the descent
from Boney Mountain
I do get frustrated when I miss races and other running opportunities, but know that physical brittleness and vulnerability come with age.  I can accept the injuries and illnesses, so long as I don't feel I have given up my quest to be the best runner I can be, and don't incur them through making stupid choices.  All runners have those moments when injury strikes and they just wish they could have a "do over" and avoid whatever caused the problem.  Sometimes it results from doing something foolish, but often it's just plain bad luck and could not reasonably have been foreseen.  The challenge is to strike a balance between testing your limits and being foolhardy in pursuit of your potential.

I would like to think I didn't make any poor choices leading to injury or illness since Boney Mountain last January, but know I have learnt a few things about myself, particularly the growing need to warm up longer and/or start slower for anything fast.  Good choices or bad, I still had plenty of downtime and failed to produce any performances comparable to Boney Mountain.  However, it was only a year ago, and common sense tells me that not too much athletic potential can have been lost in just one year.  I still believe that if I can string together three or four months of consistent and smart training and racing, there's no reason why I couldn't get back to that form.  This is what keeps me going.