I hope this note finds you well.
As many of you know, I have been running marathons for a long time. I have thoroughly enjoyed my years of pounding the pavement, but I am now thinking about running my last marathon.
I have always relished the process of training for marathons as much as the events themselves. I run alone, and have found solitude even on busy streets. One of my nurses told me many years ago that “running was my way of blowing off the stink.” Especially in my early years of practice, it was a way to deal with stress.
In the early 1980s, I compiled a playlist of music that suited my tastes and had a strong backbeat, mostly country-and-western. I’ve found ways of transferring the music from one generation of players to the next. I began with a double-sided cassette tape that weighted heavy on my belt and have now progressed to a tiny Nano – but it’s still the same music.
In November of 2016, I completed running a marathon in all 50 states and was especially proud of that. The last in that series was a race in Huntington, W. Virginia, the home of Marshall University. I have always preferred small races to large races, and traveling around the United States looking for small races has given Annette and me an opportunity to visit and stay in small towns all over the country; that has been most rewarding.
Over the last few years, I have begun to slow down, adding walking, swimming and stationary biking into my regimen of training. In years past, I joked that I could run so slowly that I could walk with one foot and run with the other; that is no longer a joke.
Last year we did our bike across the United States, a great adventure that lasted most of the spring. An interesting part of the bike ride was that many of the aches and pains I normally deal with went away, and weren’t replaced by new ones. I came back from the trip prepared to resume my normal training regimen.
My intention was to run at least one marathon in 2017, but alas, that was not to be. I prepared just as I had for years, signed up for the Dallas White Rock marathon in December, and come race day, confidently approached the starting line. By the time I had reached mile seven, my body was telling me that I was not going to do the whole race; I short-circuited the course and ran the ½ marathon instead. 2017 marked the first year since 1989 in which I did not complete a marathon.
In the weeks after White Rock, I decided that I wanted to run and complete at least one more marathon. I have dramatically changed my workout schedule, and as of this writing I have signed up for the Little Rock Marathon in March. Unless something changes, I will continue this process until I have completed one more marathon.
Have a nice journey,
Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/ writer/ marathon runner in practice in Benton for the last 35 years. He recently published The Public’s Health: A narrative history of health and disease in Arkansas, published by the Arkansas Times. His two other books, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices are available at your local booksellers or online at Amazon.com.