January 30, 2013 .As I stand at the first corral for this Women's Half Marathon, I look around. I notice no one my age. I am over the age of 60 now and I idly wonder how much younger they are. I mean, I know for sure that statistically that they have to be of another age. Even so, I stand waiting for the anthem and then the start gun and do the usual wonderings if I am well enough trained, should I have done faster and longer runs, etc.
I have participated running in races for many years. Each time it brings on nerves and challenges and a certain level of excitement. In addition to running, I am a Jungian psychoanalyst and I know how the spirit has to be there and what it takes to get in the zone and to stay there.
I am also running because I can. I know so many people who are ill and unable. So many who reach a certain age and are in decline. So many who are unfit, struck with illness, pain, joints gone and so on. I am lucky and have a consistent and conscientious approach to exercise — for years and ever since I can remember.
I go out running and just keep at it. Some say I should stop. Athletic competing is for a different stage of life. But, I view this as personal goal competing that keeps me aware of my body, its changes and essentially ways for remaining healthy. I do this half marathon every year now—in fact I do at least a couple of them each year. I keep at it. I use the training time to think, process my days, my weeks and my years. I try to humbly recognize the ego striving in all this, the need to remain young or to deny age. On this deeper level, I keep track of my dreams, especially the running dreams that function as internal guides. Throughout the years the dreams have been helpful in keeping me on track, sharpening psychological awareness as well as a means of retaining consciousness of inner balance and imbalance.
In the end, I ran this half marathon in 1:46:33 and came in 123 out of 3500. This week, I am in recovery mode. I know here is where age needs attention. The recovery rate is slower as we age. The cautions about running itself or going markedly slower or being less able are all being proven as bogus. In post race mode I always contemplate how to do better next go round.
Each year I realize I am making a point of women running no matter how old and am an encouragement for them and myself to keep on keeping on. Even when it is not easy or I am not in the mood or whatever else is going on. The striving, traversing the miles, communing with the psyche and bringing on personal challenge and development are part of my life as expressed through running. For me, this brings with it a level of awareness and insight that is essential for being my individual self.
So, I guess I will stay with it and sign up for next year.
Susan E. Schwartz, Ph.D., Jungian analyst
Paradise Valley, Arizona
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