James At 49

How does a man celebrate his 49th birthday? If you’re me, and it’s a Saturday, three weeks before a marathon, the day’s festivities will have to include a very long run! Well, today is such a day, and I had a 22 mile run scheduled to begin at 7AM with my trusty training partner Jessica, so that’s what I did!

Jessica is great to run with, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to join her for most of our long weekend runs this summer. She runs about my speed, and holds an extremely steady pace; something that is quite valuable for someone like me who tends to slowly speed up. Jessica is also fun to chat with, and since she teaches calculus at UND, she can always quickly calculate distances as we weave our way around town.

Today, however, became a little more than a normal long run. For starters, we were going to do 22 miles, which when you think about it, is an awfully long way to run! Today also was one of the Red River Runners scheduled group runs, so there were quite a few people planning on being at Lincoln Park to run at 8AM. Then it was my birthday, and apparently a 49 year old man running 22 miles is a bit of a sight to behold, so even though nobody other than Jess wanted to run 22 miles, quite a few people wanted to join us for at least part of it.

The run turned out to be perhaps one of my most memorable ones! Perhaps it was because this was only my second 22 mile training run ever. Perhaps it was because it was my birthday. Perhaps it was that I felt surprisingly well throughout the entire run. Perhaps it was because I still had some life left in me even though I had just finished 22 miles, and had logged 52 miles over the last six days.

Perhaps it was a combination of all these things that made this run memorable, but I think more likely it was the special people who shared it with me. You see, today was my birthday, and it’s especially nice to spend it with people near to you. I spent all day with my son Carl who has to work tonight, and I’m spending this evening with my wife Sue, who is traveling back from the Twin Cities at this moment. But this morning; well it was all about being with a great bunch of people from Red River Runners who love running as much as I do. Jess, Holly, Martin, Anne-Marie, Nick and Dan were what made this a morning to remember. The sun was shining, it was cool, and people were talking and laughing just like we were having a birthday party. Instead of eating cake and drinking beer, we were eating “Gu” and drinking “PowerAde.” Instead of playing party games, we were jumping curbs, and playing “follow the leader” as we crossed over the Point Bridge. The atmosphere was downright festive, and that’s what I will remember when I think back on this special 49th birthday run: The people I shared it with! Thanks for a fantastic morning you guys!