Run Like You’re 12 – #PlayGrandmaPlay!

 Run Like You’re 12…

When I began running almost 5 years ago at age 56, all I knew about running is that my adult kids and in-law kids did it and I loved watching them do it.  My husband Barry and I would get to as many of their races (5ks, 10ks, 10-milers, half marathons, half ironman and marathons) as we could to watch them complete.

Then one day, one moment actually (at the 2009 CVS 5k in downtown Providence. I remember it like it happened today), I decided that I wanted to do this thing, too.  I made a promise to myself at that moment that I would be there next year at the 2010 CVS 5k, running with my kids. That was my one running goal.

That night, I put on a pair of my daughter Jane’s old running shoes and ran. Around my short block. I felt like I was 12 years old… hair tussled, wind-in-my-face, panting, loud footsteps, autumn evening FREE.

I kept running, each time going a little further. A little further. I would then get in my car to figure out my 1/4 miles. My 1/2 miles. Then miles.  I bought myself a pair of running shoes.  Each time I went out to run, I felt that same 12-year old freedom, like running down the street to meet up with friends… or running to the little milk store to buy Ring Dings.  Running around the bases in a pick-up game of baseball at the old Centennial Hall lot.

At 12, I just did things. Play baseball.  Or hockey. Or Pogo-Sticking in my driveway or roller-skating. No special clothing or equipment… just what we grabbed and played with.  That’s what running at age 56 felt like.

I kept my eye and heart on my goal of that 2010 CVS 5k, but decided to train (Hal Higdon) for a 2010 winter 5k to see if I could actually run that far. I could and I did! No electronics. No nothing. Just my feet and my heart.

Then, one year and a few 5ks later, I was standing at the START of the 2010 CVS 5k. My heart was pounding and my knees were trembling.  Then I remembered that 12-year old girl inside who would be doing this just for fun. Freedom. ‘Cuz I could!  It was the best feeling in the world to cross that FINISH line to the cheering of my grandkids.  I never wanted that feeling to end.

If anyone had ever told me on that day that I would go on to run multiple 5ks, 5-milers, 10ks, 10-milers, sprint triathlons, half marathons, a half ironman and two marathons… well, I would not have believed it. I’ve been geared up with all the electronics and running-gear along the way, but recently I stopped taking anything along on my runs but Endomondo for my distance.  I know dozens of routes and their particular miles, but I now like to run randomly, letting my feet go where they want.  Like I’m on an adventure, as well as a run. 

Like being 12 years old.

I splash in puddles. I run up hills that seem impossible.  I run in pouring rain.  I run into the wind. I don’t care how fast or slow my feet are taking me anymore. I run for FREEDOM. I run like I ran the first night back in 2009, back when I knew I was 12 years old again. I love that feeling.

Take today, for example. While on a 4-mile training run for Providence Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon, I came upon children’s hand-drawn chalk drawings in the park…



A path for some great journey!

Of course, I obliged!

And then Hop-Scotched right along on my run!

Running and PLAYING. Like I’m 12.

And the next thing I’m gonna do is stop to pick wildflowers along the path for my Mom. Like I did as a kid…



Run Like You’re 12 – #PlayGrandmaPlay! was last modified: August 13th, 2013 by Sharon Couto
SHOWHIDE Comments (5)
  1. Sharon,
    You are a true inspiration. I started running this year at 41 thinking I was possibly too old to start. Thank you for leading the way and making the path fun. I will run tomorrow for the “freedom” instead of the workout!

  2. You are amazing. Ah. Maze. Ing.
    Tell yourself that everyday. You have yet another daughter- ME! I love all of your stories, your inspiring personality and your infectious desire to just shut up and do it already! <3
    I will be there cheering you on at RnR!

  3. Sharon I love your motivation and thrill in doing something so challenging yet rewarding. I’ve never been a runner and am so impressed with women who find joy in the running “zone”!

Run Like You’re 12 – #PlayGrandmaPlay! was last modified: August 13th, 2013 by Sharon Couto