Real People, Real Training Stories

Note: All names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Last week, it seemed everyone, TOJs and someday-TOJs, was training for something or setting a new goal. All were excited, intense, full of anticipation, focused, enthusiastic. Sometimes there was some fear of failure.

Mike, in his 60s, wants to break his last best Bolder-Boulder time set three years ago - a little under 43 minutes. He's been doing 1000 meter intervals at a track. Has some of those new minimalist running shoes with a lower heel, and is surprised how good they feel. He feeling fast and thinks he can do it. If his body and the weather cooperate.

Jill, in her 40s, has been training for a marathon for only three months. It's one I've never heard of, but that makes no difference because to her its the Olympics. It's her first. She ran 18 miles last week and felt pretty good. She was tapering down because her race is this weekend. She said it's something she's always wanted to do, and may never do another one.

Fred, in his 50s, has a physical disability caused by a bone disease and job-related accident. He trains at the gym several days a week, mostly upper body work. But he also does sets of leg presses with 160 pounds at high speed to try to maintain power in his leg muscles. He thinks it's working.

Jill, Fred's wife, is a hardcore bicyclist in her 50s. She's do several multi-day road rides this summer in Colorado that cover hundreds of miles and tens of thousands of vertical feet. Her training has been delayed because of all the late snows this spring and worries she won't be ready for her first event in a few weeks. She's been watching the weather forecast, and plans to pedaling five sunny days in a row.

Fat Bob, a lovely woman in her 30s, will compete in a few weeks on a CrossFit team that has advanced to the Northwest regionals. She knows the competition will be stiff, but looks forward to it. She cares, but doesn't care, how she does. It helps her put some pressure on herself, but not too much. No matter what happens, she wins.

Fat Bob's mom, a lovely woman in her 60s, is getting ready for the Bolder-Boulder. She wants to ran as fast as she did last year, but she hasn't been running as much as she was then because it was a long, tough winter. She's been doing lots of other exercise to keep fit like kettlebell and other resistance routines. She'll do fine because she's done some training runs at about the same pace she was a year ago. On Memorial Day, she'll be in her wave and find out.

Liam, a very fit athlete in his late 20s, just ran a sub-20 minute 5K in Kentucky. He was delighted to break the 20 minute mark. He figures he got an advantage from training at 6,000 plus feet then dropping down to almost sea level. But though his cardio held up well, his quadriceps killed him in the last half mile because he punished his legs as he ran faster. He felt really happy, but said he needed to recover and get back to training so "I can break 19." He laughed, understanding the madness of goals measured in time that are always just out of reach.

Jack, a man in his early 60s, is a diabetic who's been in the hospital a half dozen times in the past year. A retired Army officer who had two tours in Vietnam as a medi-vac pilot, he was recently declared legally blind. He's not just a TOJ, but a tough SOB. Right now his blood sugar is under control. He's been walking 4.5 miles several days a week, a even running a half mile with his dog on a deserted stretch of asphalt near his home in Denver. He wants to walk the Bolder-Boulder and just be part of the event. His physical therapist will walk it with him as his guide. His doctor, a distance runner, has given him the green light. Jack told me how much he enjoys walking and how being in the Bolder-Boulder gives him a goal. "I need that," he said. "You know what I mean?"

"Yes," I answered, "I do know what you mean."

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