My grown children run marathons on occasion, as do several of their cousins. I’ve never been one to run just for fun. Walking suits me fine for getting around.
There are marathons taking place all over the country most every week. My son and his wife traveled to Utah several months ago, to take part in a Ragnar relay running event where they dressed up in costumes of their picking. Gunnar wore a faux beard with official Bubba-Gump baseball cap. He even had on the correct tee-shirt and shorts. Yes, he was Forrest Gump reincarnated.
I recently watched a video about a fellow named, Chris Parker, who ran a 26-mile Florida marathon while carrying a marching style snare drum. He’d play the drum on occasion as he tooled along. At the 26-mile marker and with the very last beat of his drum, he set a new world’s record.
What my son and other marathon runners most likely don’t know, is that some day, they’ll be participating in life marathons. I call these Senior Marathons and they’re neither 5K or 10K events. In fact, distance doesn’t enter into things at all whereas time does. Merely getting in and out of doors via cane, walker, or wheelchair is the grand prize. No ribbons or trophies are handed out for successfully completing such.
Senior marathons, like the others, have their aches and pains. One big difference between the two is that it generally takes something much stronger than Bayer aspirin or Tylenol to help senior contestants find comfort.
I’ve spent mega time sitting in medical and hospital waiting rooms, including chemo wards. Over the years, I’ve watched the same senior marathon play out time and time again.
A car will roll up outside the medical facility entrance. Sometimes there’s just the driver and other times a passenger is visible. Last Friday, I watched the following take place.
After parking his Toyota SUV, a man most likely in his eighty’s slowly opened the driver car door. He’d thoughtfully popped the hatch beforehand. Moving carefully to the back of his vehicle, he struggled to remove a collapsible walker. At this point I hurried over offering assistance. The kindly fellow smiled and told me he had the regimen down pat.
Getting the walker snapped together, he pushed this wheeled apparatus to the passenger side door before opening it. A frail looking lady who I presumed to be his wife carefully got out. After making sure she wasn’t going to fall, the couple precariously trudged up a sidewalk to the building. The man let me open the heavy door for him and he offered thanks.
I could see that just getting his wife out of their automobile and seated in the waiting room had him physically spent. His last move before sitting down was grab a cup of water. Beads of perspiration rolled down both cheeks. Taking a sip he then offered her the rest.
The amount of energy put forth doing such is immeasurable. To him, I’m sure he felt as if he’d just run a 5K, yet still had to do it all over again before heading home. How many times a week this plays out is unknown to me, but I’d guess it’s quite often.
Thankfully, I’ve never had to use a walker or wheelchair thus far. My homemade “Hurst” shifter cane comes in handy when my back’s out of whack. There have been times I went to the grocery store all kinked up, only needing a few small items, and snagged a shopping cart at the last moment just for something to lean on. “One step at a time,” is often muttered when this occurs.
Even though they don’t realize it, young and middle-aged runners are merely prepping themselves for the big one, the Senior Marathon. When that one starts, much like Chris Parker’s 26-miler while toting a snare drum, it’ll not end until the very last beat!