Crossing the Start Line: on the running life, at 72 — Gordon Wheeler

I’m calling this blog “Crossing the Start Line” because that’s my constant aspiration — at 72 — each time I sign up for some kind of distance run. And by “distance” I basically mean anything from a 10K (which takes me a good hour) to a full marathon (just under 5 hours — but that’s on a good day!)

When I say this to people, either they chuckle or they do a double take — and come back with something like “Oh I get it, you mean you’re not concerned about a competitive time” — at which point I know they heard it as “finish line” instead of “start line.” So maybe I say it again. And either they get it now, or they just smile vaguely and move on.

I really mean it. My real goal, each time, is to be out there, in the elements (whatever the weather that day — or weathers, as in the Big Sur Marathon each year, which has a way of taking you through three or four whole different seasons in a single morning. The shed-clothing haul on that run must be enormous. I once left a pair of running tights on the side of that road somewhere around Hurricane Point because I was boiling hot — but I never would have made it thru the blizzard back near the Point Sur Light if I hadn’t worn tights up to that point under my shorts!).

Now that’s what you call the gifts of cancer — or the gifts of old age (they’re pretty similar): that intense awareness of just the joy of being alive, being out there, with thousands of other people, all in a bit of madness and a lot of euphoria together — and that’s even before the “runner’s high” (and maybe some moments of “runner’s low”) during the day ahead.

I’ll be writing here about all of this — cancer (and what it may give y0u, and what it may take), losses, the improbability (cancer or no cancer) of being alive, on gratefulness and grieving, and most of all, on staying alive, really alive, in your 8th decade —

First, the facts here: in a fit of extreme aliveness (or foolish overreaching — that’s such a fine line) I let myself be persuaded this year to sign up not just for the Big Sur Marathon as usual, but for the “B2B,” back-to-back Big Sur and Boston Marathons, which are both in April, always just 6 days apart. And it gets worse — or better! More in the next post: for now, check out if you will the charity sponsorship appeal for this act of back-to-back spring madness:

Boston-2-BigSur Back-to-Back Marathon Season — April 2016 !!

Support my Boston Marathon run-for-a-cure-in-our-lifetime race this spring, April 18 2016, to benefit the pioneering work of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — and benefit Esalen Institute 6 days later at the same time! Here’s how it works: just click now on:

Make the most generous donation you can (100% of your contribution goes to cancer research at Dana-Farber!) — and I’ll make a matching donation (up to $5,000 total) to Sustainability at Esalen (where I’ve had the privilege of serving as President for the past 13 years)! — Thank you! Gordon Wheeler