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Commentary: The Real Lives of the Saturday Runners

February 11, 2014|By Carrie Luger Slayback

Remember thinking your teacher lived at school? You couldn't imagine that he or she ate, shopped or washed clothes.

Sometimes I think people see runners as one-dimensional people. That's all we do, run.

Friends I haven't seen in a while ask, "How's your running?"

"Running?" I think, mystified. "Oh, that."

Perhaps I've been lost in thought regarding family, a book I'm reading, dinner. Running is rarely on my mind, even though I'm putting in four-hour mornings on the road.

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So here are the real lives of the Saturday Runners.

One, a manager of big projects was transferred to a new location that demands a 100-mile commute. She has never missed a workout and clocks a 3:30 marathon. She's training for Boston 2014.

Another lost her dad and planned a beautiful service in his memory. As executor of his will, she disposed of his assets, including selling his house, while she worked full time. She has raced at least once a month and currently trains for the Los Angeles Marathon.

A younger runner, a school principal with two teenage kids at home, saw her mom through a hip replacement, spent the night in the emergency room when the hip dislocated, went to work the next day and never missed her workouts, preparing for L.A.

One of our guys underwent a job change, which places him in Mississippi one month and Minnesota the next. Whenever he flies home to California, he shows up for our Saturday workouts.

Still another, a health worker with an advanced degree, saw her hours cut 30%. On a shoestring, she supports her kids — a college freshman and a high school senior. She just completed a marathon at 3 hours and 37 minutes. She'll run L.A. in March.

Then there is Jake, who manages a career, continues caregiving for his nephew and yet carves out Saturday mornings to run with us. He surprised me by signing up for L.A.

My daughter just gave us our first grandchild. If she'd asked, I'd have said wait until April, but we weren't invited to the preplanning meetings. Then my son, the bachelor, fell in love, moved her in, got the ring and license, set the date and got married all during my time of greatest marathon mileage. Paul and I have been through plenty of calamities, but current time demands are joyous.

Everyday people, the Saturday Runners reflect the economic and employment challenges of 2014, the obligations of the sandwich generation, the rewards of family events.

But the Saturday Runners are my heroes. There are plenty of reasons to let up on debilitating distance mileage, turn away from the pressure of pace, eliminate the early alarm and snore on.

None of the Saturday Runners allows himself or herself an excuse. Maybe their world's falling in, but they work out. Afterward, they meet at Starbucks and shove tables together for group conversation.

Surrounded by friends, their daily cares dissipate with shared laughter and hot cups of coffee.

Newport Beach resident CARRIE LUGER SLAYBACK is training to run the Los Angeles Marathon at age 70. Read more about her adventures at lazyracer@blogspot.com.

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