Age ain’t nothing but a number

  • This was printed in January of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 37th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

That old adage, “never ask a woman her age,” gets thrown out the window when you

hang around with a bunch of runners. It would be pointless to try to keep one’s age a

secret because the number, or at least the age division, is printed on every race bib.

That being said, I’m sure my running buddies will not mind me pointing out that most of

them are old enough to be my parents — or grandparents. But when it comes to distance

running, age ain’t nothing but a number. I run with 40-somethings and 50-somethings

who can outpace and out-endure my 20-something body.

That’s another thing I love about running — it’s not just a sport that I can do right now,

it’s a sport I imagine myself doing for decades.

Another thing I love about running is that it’s never too late to start.

Sherman Thomas third grade teacher Lovina Arter, 54, started running last year and just

finished her second half marathon. She also just became the school’s cross country coach.

Bobby Kearney, 46, of Clovis, started in 2012.

“When I first started running a year and a half ago I thought running a marathon was

impossible,” he said. “I just finished my first one in November and I’m signed up for

three fulls and three half marathons next year with a long term goal of doing an ultra 50-

miler in 2015.”

Kearney smoked me in a recent 12.5-mile trail run.

Jeff Ward, 50, of Fresno, said he used to go the gym and walk fast at an incline while

watching a group a friends run two to three miles.

“I was never a runner,” he said. “I said I couldn’t run due to my age of 48 at the time. I

was eight to 20 years older than they were and it would probably hurt my back too much.

I didn’t feel like part of the group.”

But one day he decided to give it a try.

“I hit the go button on the treadmill and about 45 seconds later I was out of breath and

done running,” he said. “Rude awakening, as I thought I was in much better shape. The

next day nothing hurt. Although it was only 45 seconds it took all my excuses away. A

runner was born.”

Ward has completed two half marathons and wants to eventually complete a full


Age and everything that comes along with it (bad backs, bad knees, bad hips, bad this and

bad that) doesn’t seem to stop any of the runners I know. I guess the “runner’s high”

— or the sense of accomplishment, or the joy of friendships, or the peace of mind, or the

precious ‘me time’ or any other reason why we all love to run — overrides any aches and


Begered Ghazi, one of the young ones in our group at 38, hit the nail on the head with her

response to the question ‘why do you run?’ She says it’s a lifestyle; running is another

daily to-do just like sleeping, eating and brushing your teeth. And any excuse

— including “I’m too old” is invalid.

“People who have the physical ability and choose not to run because it is too hard, too

cold, too hot, too early, blah blah blah, are missing out — big time!”


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