Friday, February 15, 2013

Must Read: "Time Since Birth" vs "Time Left to Live."

The following editorial commentary was published in Running Times (March 2013 issue) and since it resonated with me so deeply, I wanted to share it in its entirety with all of you.

The best is yet to come.

February 10, 2013

The psychologist Elliott Jaques, who coined the term "midlife crisis," noted how our view in middle age shifts from "time since birth" to "time left to live." Most in our youth-and growth-centered society see this shift as a loss. And, as the term "crisis" implies, it's a shock for many: In confronting our own inevitable decline and death, we often have to go through stages similar to grief--denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

As a runner, it seems to me that our sport helps us move more quickly toward acceptance. We may spend a few years in denial and anger, we may try to bargain for a few more years with harder or smarter training, but unless we're delusional, our times empirically tell us that we've moved into what Jung called "the afternoon of life." Our choice is depression or acceptance, and fortunately, running helps fend off the depression. Beyond the self-medicating benefits of endorphins, running reminds us daily that, even if we're slower than we used to be, we're not dead yet, in any sense of that word.

"Acceptance" in this context feels like a resignation that life will be less from now on, but several recent studies on happiness show quite the opposite--that happiness over time follows a U-curve, reaching its lowest in midlife, then climbing thereafter as you age. Laura Carstensen of Stanford University, author of one of the studies, credits the rise in happiness to increased emotional stability and the ability to appreciate the present.

"As people get older, they're more aware of mortality," Carstensen said to Science Daily. "So when they see or experience moments of wonderful things, that often comes with the realization that life is fragile and will come to an end. But that's a good thing. It's a signal of strong emotional health and balance."

At the age of 48, I'm starting to experience this phenomenon. When I go for a run, I find I'm less likely to evaluate it in terms of how it compares to yesterday's run or bodes for tomorrow's goal. It's not even the defiant staving off the future that it was a few years ago--I'm learning to relish the simple joy that today I ran. A good race can now be appreciated as a good race, not a prediction of what I "could" or "should" be able to do next. Increasingly, I don't even compare the results to what I could do in the past. Race failures are less devastating than in my youth, given a broader perspective on their importance in life and a greater appreciation for the process, regardless of the outcome.

To my surprise, this acceptance isn't leading to a reduction in the nature of my running or goals. I continue to do long runs and intervals and hills and diagonals for the simple thrill of running long and fast, as well as for their effects on my fitness. I just signed up for a marathon next spring, my first in several years after swearing off them when I recognized that I don't have the time or energy to train "properly" for one. I still don't, but I want to run one as strongly as I am able with the time I do have--the time in my schedule and the time left in my life.

We highlight masters runners this issue, in the listing of the best masters performances of the year and in profiles of leading masters runners and running legends. All of them have made this choice, that regardless of what time and energy they have today, they're going to strive and risk. Every masters champion I've met has been understated regarding his or her accomplishments--as has every elite runner at any age, as David Alm explores in his essay on adopting elite attitudes. It seems that what they do doesn't impress them and they don't do it for external praise, they do it because it's what they do and what they enjoy.

The studies say that on average, American males reach their low point in happiness at age 49. I'd argue that runners hit bottom earlier, because we have better feedback from our aging bodies, and thus have a head start on the climb out to greater happiness. Regardless, if I'm near the bottom, the future is going to be amazing. It comes as a surprise to me, as a runner, to recognize that even as I'm getting older and slower, the best is yet to come.

- Jonathan Beverly, Editor-in-Chief

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Race Result: 2013 Hamel 5K (Freeze Your Buns Run)

Event: 2013 Hamel 5K (Freeze Your Buns Run)
Date: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Location: Hamel, Minnesota
Hotel: Home, sweet home
Weather: 5F, moderate winds at 9-10 MPH from WNW making it feel like -8F
Official Results: Typically not posted, but I will post if they do make results available
Previous Results: 2010 - 20:14 (5th overall); 2011 - 19.14 (2nd overall); 2012 - 20:06 (6th overall)

Personal Results

Goal: Sub-20 minutes (6:26 per mile pace)
Actual: 20:10 (6:33 per mile pace)
Overall: 5th (200+?)

Myself with Female Overall Winner Mary Franke


Mile Splits

Can See I was Red Lining the HR

GoPro Video: 

2013 Hamel 5K Freeze Your Buns Run from Brian Maas on Vimeo.

I treated this very low key event like I have the other times I have run it. Simply as a speed workout. I had put in a pretty hard workout the day before, running 3 miles (fartlek style via treadmill), swimming 3000 yards, and biking 12 miles on the wind trainer. I was closing in on eight total workout hours for the week. So I had not tapered at all for the 5K.

We are off!

Mile One (6:12)

Hey, it was cold but not that bad once we started moving. I probably went out too fast, but I'm trying to get back into run shape by the time duathlon/triathlon season start up. Prior to my tibial stress fracture I was running low 18's for a 5K. While I would have liked to have gone sub-20 with this event, in comparing to years past I've made good progress since starting up running again in December. The fact that I could go out in a 6:12 is the real positive I carry away from the race. The stamina to click off sub 6:10 pace consistently through a 5K will come. I need to remember to stay patient, and slowly build up the miles. I do not want to be out for over 9 months again.

I had the added bonus of running with Mary Franke today. She is the daughter of my son's swim team coach, Tom Franke. Tom has given so much to my son that it is a pure pleasure to reciprocate in turn. Mary is a strong runner. Very smooth. She was a integral member of the Wayzata Girls effort to be Minnesota State Champs this past season. They later won Nike Regionals in South Dakota before turning in a fine performance at Nike Nationals where Mary did very well.

So, it did not surprise me to have her on my shoulder through Mile One. And then to see her take off in Mile Two. I thought she might actually take first overall, but was caught at the end. Still, she was easily the female overall champ. I hope to help her along with her training and support her in additional races this year.

Mile Two (6:33)

After we made the 2nd left turn I was already red-lining the HR as you can see in the graphic above. I made one effort to close the distance but just couldn't respond. Mile Two at 6:33 was just fine. It will be under 6:25 at the next event. But I was pretty much dusted at this point.

Mile Three (6:54)

I was passed twice by the time I reached the Mile Three marker, and that was no problem. Again, this was a speed workout. In fact, I went home and hopped on the bike and rode 12 miles on the wind trainer right afterwards. The legs were tired, but I'm heading in the right direction for my first of many duathlons this spring. I can't wait for the warmer temps!

The runners approach the finish

First through Third Approach the Finish


I finished up, got my post-race hug from Mary and greeted a few other folks. The course was run backwards this year, and I sort of preferred it that way, to be honest. Nice downhill pretty much in the beginning and slight climb at the end as you can see by the elevation graphic up above.

Fourth through Sixth Approach the Finish

Crazy ol' coot

That a girl , Mary Franke


There are no awards at this event. It is a simple low-key event, and that is fine by me. It is well run and I will continue to run the event. It has, hands-down, the best race T-Shirt. I really like how they change the color each year and the previous year's temps at displayed on one sleeve.

I recommend this race very much. Hope to see you at it next year!

Next Race

March 9 - Becker Community Center Chase a Leprechaun 5K