First and Last

I ran long on Saturday. 17 miles. Inland. Over rolling hills, around pastures and sleepy old barns. Quiet and peaceful. I chose not to run along the water Saturday. I’m not sure why. I guess I needed a change of scenery. I decided to run a route I’ve run countless times while training for my first marathon- Chicago 2009. I would say that 2009 was the lowest period of my life- but I would be lying. It was far worse than that.

Chicago was more than a marathon for me. The finish line more symbolic than anyone would realize. It was my start. The miles run healed my heart, head and soul during a devastating time. I needed that marathon. I needed a new start. I needed to see that finish line to know that I could start, that I could let go. In the process, I fell in love with running.

Forward movement.
Go Colby. Go.

That was my first marathon. A thought occurred to me the other day while running: When will be my last? When will I run my last race? How old will I be? Will I make a conscious decision that it will be my last race? Or will I simply stop running and quietly hang up my sneakers?

Fauja Singh, ran his last race, a 10k, in Hong Kong on Sunday. He was 101 years old. Clad in a saffron turban and Rip Van Winkle-like beard, the world’s oldest marathon runner pinned on his last bib number yesterday and crossed his last finish line. 101 years old. And still running. He started running at age 89 as a way to ease the grief he felt after losing both his wife and son while living and farming in India. A wrenching one-two punch, depression set in. He ran to heal himself. He ran to let go of his sadness. He. Let. Go. In his process, he felt alive again- alive at age 89. Happy. He felt as if his life was worth living. And so he ran- 9 marathons in total. Singh decided to retire after yesterday’s race- right at the top of his game- with a century of living under his belt. Simply Brilliant.

Sometimes from tragedy and heartbreak come great things. A renewed sense of self. A confidence. A purpose. Even happiness. Running is truly transformative. While I’m not sure when my last race will be (I’m hoping it’s 60 years from now), I applaud Fauja Singh. I stand and applaud him, not for finishing his last race, but for having the courage to start his first.

Bravo Dear Man. Bravo.


The Turbaned Tornado! Photo credit: Tyrone Siu/ REUTERS


13 thoughts on “First and Last

    • To start distance running at 89 years old to combat depression and overcome sadness? Astounding. Most give up and wither away slowly and quietly. Finding purpose at 89 is amazing. Thanks for your thoughts!

  1. Pingback: Acceptance.  – It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

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