By Scott Ludwig
Since I was going to turn 50 in December, I wanted the month to be memorable. I think I was successful. In fact, not only will I remember it; I took some of my closest friends along for the ride as well. I’ll start with a duplication of my running log entries, and then we’ll go from there:
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday 10 10 10 23 20 8 8 7 6 50 31 20 10 10 10 10 10 21 20 10 10 10 13 21 22 26 18 10 10 10 31
First Week – Nothing to Write Home About
An uneventful week. That is until Saturday, when Kelly Murzynsky pushed (pulled?) me 23 miles at an I-don’t-really-want-to-run-this-fast 8 minutes per mile pace. The weather was cold all week, so all the runs were pleasant. That is, if you don’t include Saturday.
Second Week – A Fifty-Fifty Fiftieth
I turned 50 on Friday, so I wanted to do something special—like running my age (since I had done the same when I turned 40 and 45). I tapered during the week, and then at midnight Thursday Susan Lance and John Saunders met me at the Riley Field track to ‘celebrate’ my birthday. During the wee hours of the morning we were joined by Kelly (3 miles), Al Barker (5), Paula May (6), and Prince Whatley (18). John stopped at 31 miles and Susan—bless her heart—stayed with me the entire 200 quarter-mile laps (which took just over nine hours to complete). I took a short nap (one hour, maybe) Friday and then Kelly and I headed to Tallahassee to run a 50K on Saturday. We stayed with Gordon Cherr and his wife Sherry Friday night, and Gordon escorted us to Wakulla Springs where the ultra was being held. Kelly ran a great race and won it for a second time. Fred Johnson and Kelly ran together for a while (I had no desire to stay with their sub-8 minute pace), and when Fred fell back late in the race I made a valiant effort to catch him, only to have him clip me by four seconds at the finish line. After a quick shower at the Cherr residence, Kelly and I returned to Peachtree City (thank goodness Kelly drove—I managed to get in a 13-minute nap on the ride home).
Third Week – Time to Rest
Sunday I ran 20 miles with Al, Susan and Eric Huguelet. Eric almost talked me into running another 6 so I could do a 50-miler, 50K and marathon over three consecutive days. I, however, was satisfied with my ’50-50’ on Friday and Saturday. After all, I am 50 now—gotta slow down some. Saturday was an easy 21-miler with Susan (10 miles), Al (14), and Jerry Shoemaker (6), who was on cloud nine after qualifying for the Boston Marathon the week before—after ten years of trying!
Fourth Week – I’m Blaming This on Eric
Sunday I ran with 20 miles with Al and Susan. Paula and Eric ran the first three miles with us, and suggested we all do 25 miles on December 25th. Naturally, I was all for it (especially now that my two sons don’t make any effort to get up early on Christmas morning; I knew I had more than enough time to run 25 miles, take a shower, eat breakfast, and then wake them up). However, Eric had second thoughts and suggested we run ’26 on the 26th’ instead. Again, I was all for it. Seeing as I had a four day weekend, I ran 21 miles on Friday with Paula (8), Al (10), and Susan (21), 22 miles on Saturday (Christmas) with Paula (10), Eric (10), Al (20), and Susan (22). During Saturday’s run, we finalized our plans for ’26 on the 26th.’
Fifth Week – Going Out with a Bang
I had been thinking about the days of the month and what I’d been running—50 miles on my 50th birthday, a 50K the next day, 26 miles on the 26th—and thought how appropriate it would be to end the month (and the year) with yet another 50K by running 31 miles on—you guessed it—the 31st. During our 26 miles on December 26th (actually, Paula did 12, Eric bailed out at 15, Al did 23, and Susan did all 26 with me), Eric mentioned that I should run 31 miles on the 31st. If the thought hadn’t already crossed my mind earlier, I would have blown the idea off. However, since someone else said it after I had thought about doing it, I knew it was fate that I would do it. So I made plans, and lined up ‘the usual suspects. At 6:30 a.m. on December 31st, we decided to run the six 5.2 miles loops that make up the Peachtree City 50K. Al and Paula ran the first loop with me, Kelly the second and third (Jerry joined us as well for these two loops, still ecstatic about his Boston qualifier), Eric and Prince the third and fourth, and John (bless him) all six (although he skipped the half-mile out-and-back the last four loops, so his total was only 29 miles). Where was Susan? In Ohio with her family for the holidays. But she did catch a flight back to Atlanta on January 1st, so she and I could join Darksiders Gary Griffin and George Palmer in Mobile, Alabama for the First Light Marathon on January 2nd. Happy new year to us!