Susan Dowd is no stranger to running, but sign on for a half marathon? That distance had never even remotely crossed her mind.
And when her son asked her to join him and his wife for the San Diego Rock and Roll Half Marathon this year, her immediate thought was “no way!” As someone who has run three miles several times a week since she was in her 30s, Susan a very fit 65. She works out in the Inverness Village Fitness Center and takes yoga in addition to running. So, once the seed was planted, it took root.
“It’s hard to say no to your children, and I knew it would make my son proud,” she says. “And I knew it would set a good example for active aging.” She also volunteers with a group called Girls on the Run, which uses running to teach elementary and middle-school age girls about setting goals and overcoming obstacles. She thinks that might have played a role in her decision, as well.
Susan’s goals were modest: finish the race with no injuries and have a good time running it. She accomplished both and surprised herself by placing 30 out of 160 in her age group.
“The last two miles were actually the best,” Susan says. “I felt strong. I felt wonderful. It was exhilarating.”
She began training for the May race in late Fall 2014, slowly working up from three to six to nine miles. The training was not without injury, but most were minor issues like blisters and hamstring pulls. When she developed Achilles tendonitis five weeks before the race, she began working with a physical therapist and got back on track.
She also credits Inverness Village’s wellness director with advice and resources that helped her along the way.
In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that she lives at Inverness, Susan says she never would have agreed to the race in the first place.
Susan’s husband is 20 years older than her and faces some health issues and sometimes require minor assistance with tasks. Challenges with getting around in their two-story home was the catalyst for their move to a one-level Garden Home at Inverness Village.
“I would not have been able to leave for five days without being concerned if we lived in our old home,” she says. “Because he exercises regularly, even with his challenges, he is very self-sufficient. But between our neighbors, Inverness at Home services and a call pendant, I knew that if he needed help, he could get it.”
She also credits the community with making her training much more convenient. The Fitness Center was two minutes away for treadmill running in bad weather, and she was able to do her six-mile runs solely on the campus.
“I think that regular exercise makes all of your life better,” Susan says. “It gives you more stamina, and just makes you feel good and open to different opportunities. And while it may not prevent an illness or injury, if you're in good shape, you're able to handle those stresses better.”
Given that attitude it’s no surprise that Susan is already talking to her sister about getting together for a half marathon in San Antonio next year.
“My physical therapist is an ultramarathoner and he warned me that this is addictive,” she laughs. “He might be right!”