Boston, Here I Come

  The other night while clicking away on the individual single age of entrants in the fabled Boston Marathon, I noted that at 70, there were 45 men. At 71 there were 35. At 72, 18. Then 16,10,5,7 down, and down some more until whoa!! drum roll please:  until at age 78 there were…three. But lo, what is this? One of the noble three at 78 is none other but a fellow I know, and one from my very own neck of the woods, Larry Cole! And from just down the road in Harwich.
  This is so cool. I knew that Larry was not a veteran marathoner, or one of these Florida types that string a whole bunch together in sort of an athletic travelogue of the 50 states. He is a man late to running who just LOVES to race, particularly local ones like the CCAC has to offer or a few others not too far over the bridge. He is one man you can almost count on almost every weekend lining up at whatever race is being offered locally, be it a Gran Prix (he had a perfect attendance record — again!) or one of the established traditional classics.
  Larry is not a complete novice marathoner, for he did notch the Rock N Roll Marathon to his belt back in 2006 under Joe Weinberger’s excellent tutelage, but now, he is taking on the Big One. There is something sort of beautiful, sort of an ode to challenge, to find a man running Boston for the first time at age 78. Very Little Engine That Could-ish.
  I don’t know about you, but I find such fearless decisions totally inspiring. What better age to make your Boston debut? What is there to lose? Larry is a doer, not a spectator (as several of the young gals he whisked around the banquet dance floor were quickly willing to attest). Theodore Roosevelt’s famous line about "the gladiator down in the blooded sands of the arena" fits our Larry to a T.
  So on Tuesday morning I drove down to his home to ask him a few questions before he took off on his regular ten mile training run. It turns out that he is currently on a four day training week that compiles about 40 miles. Speed work is done on Wednesdays on his treadmill, a long run on Thursday, and usually a race on Sat. or Sun. This week it is the Old Fashioned Ten Miler in Foxboro, a staple of New England Boston entrants for years. Then there is the natural progression to the Hyannis Half, the New Bedford Half, and a few 10Ks to fill in the gaps between times.
  And oh yes, he keeps busy with one of his lifelong hobbies, playing ice hockey on Tuesdays and Fridays.
  Er, hockey?
  "Um..Is body checking allowed?" I asked, fearing that a fall on the unforgiving ice would just have to be disastrous for 78 year old bones.
"No real checking allowed, but…there is a way you can sort of maneuver an onrushing skater into a collision," he laughed, a twinkle in his eye. Tony Kent Arena regulars assured me that the retired UNH economics professor gives no quarter, in fact is quite good — "and not just good for his age, either. He is very clever about poking that puck away from his defensive position."
  Anyone familiar with Mr. Cole’s less than classic bent-over running stride simulates it to his stick-carrying pose while playing hockey, and state that it is just a natural transition from one sport to another. In the meantime, Larry complements his core muscles and fitness in general with various sit-ups and lifts that he does on his living room floor.
  His goal is to run "somewhere under five hours" and a time like that will surely be very competitive amongst his peers. Personally, I relish the thought of being in the same race as this intrepid septuagenarian. He offers courage, grace, class, and most of all, great enthusiasm. He is not interested in looking behind, but has his eyes firmly fixed on the road ahead.
  Heck, I feel younger already by sheer osmosis. Another CCACer, Scotty Carter, used to make me feel this way. Very upbeat. Time is a-wastin’. The more the better, and full steam ahead! The Boston Marathon sirens are in full throat this year, and the arrow swings positively forward for our 78 year old warrior. I know one thing. The whole club will be rooting for you, Larry.
  Go for it.
  ~ Pete

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