One More Mile

Eighteen months ago, I'd never run more than 3 or 4 miles. Sunday, I completed my first half-marathon, capping a 40th birthday year challenge I set for myself that began with a 10K over the Ben Franklin Bridge last fall and the glorious 10 miler down Broad Street in May.

So yeah, an overstressed, underrested working Mom can pull this off. But if I had to do it all over again, I would have started in my 20s. My knees agree.

I still have yet to experience the elusive runner's high -- unless it's less ecstasy, more prideful satisfaction -- but I've become part of the tribe. You know us and probably loathe us. We talk about running way too much, as if anyone besides other runners cares about how lousy the weather was for our last long run or how thrilled we are about our new shoes.

This morning, we mourn two of our own --Jeffrey Lee, a University of Pennsylvania undergrad who collapsed at the end of the half-marathon and as-yet-unidentified 40 year-old man who died a quarter-mile from the finish line of the full Philadelphia Marathon.

My Daily News colleague and running friend Barbara Laker has a deeply felt rumination on the subject of life, death and running here. She said almost everything I feel.

It's at first inconceivable to think anyone fit enough to move one's body for two hours or more could have a bum heart. How could the muscle that gives runners their mojo be simultaneously strong and weak?

(My half-marathon partner happens to be a nurse. She deftly explained that the heightened physical workload and oxygen requirements of a race can prove deadly. "Basically," she says, "your body hits a wall.")

I didn't see either of the men who died doing what they must have loved -- you have to love it, why else torture yourself with the training? -- but now realize I could have been jogging alongside Lee. He finished his half marathon in 1 hour, 58 minutes -- just 10 minutes ahead of me.

-- Monica Yant Kinney


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