Tuesday, April 30, 2013


There are runners faster and younger than me. There always will be. Yesterday marked a milestone at the St. Stephens Falcon 5K in Bradenton. I placed in my age group at my 45th 5K race or longer since 2006. I placed first in my new age group, 60-64. I love my new age group. Def much easier to place in it.

But I also saw I saw a different kind of first at the race. An award was given to the oldest male and female runner. I wasn’t that far off. I’m happy to say I did not get it. Several of the other racers in or near my age group set around while we waited for awards and commiserated how few of us there were. I apologized to the group for my somewhat sluggish finish time, but since I just registered this week for the National Senior Games this summer in Cleveland, I was saving my energy and muscles for training for that. I will compete at Nationals in all 4 events I qualified in at State, placing fourth in the 100, and third in the 200, 400 and 1500 meters.  

Two weeks ago I did my version of the Disney “Goofy.” That is a half marathon on Saturday followed by full marathon on Sunday. I did a 5K on Saturday, and in my age group, placed first in that, and then a half marathon on Sunday, and placed sixth in my age group in that.

At the half, somewhere around mile 10, a woman who is an extremely fast runner and her boyfriend passed me. Both were fast runners. I was very surprised as I realized as they were passing me that I had actually been ahead of them for 10 miles.

Since I am a much better sprinter than endurance runner, I knew that my time for the half marathon was pretty average, and very slow by this couple’s standards. Thoughts wander as you run, and I kept trying to figure out why this couple had been running so slowly. I have not seen them in a long time. And as I watched them from behind I realized that the man, who had been in great shape, had gained back some of the weight around his waist that he had previously lost a few years ago. 

I remember that a big deal had been made about the huge amount of weight that he had lost through running. I was so curious about it after the race, I started asking around and was told by several friends, that he had been hospitalized recently with a complication from bariatric surgery. I had not known that he had lost the weight mainly as a result of the surgery. The revelation was a disappointment. 

Before I wrote my book I had a client in the healthcare industry. A woman we knew was on a waiting list for years to have bariatric surgery to help relieve her morbid obesity. I was in shock as I listened to her story about how she really didn’t want to lose weight because then she would be bumped off the insurance company’s waiting list for the surgery.

She eventually did have the surgery, and lost a lot of weight, as most people do post-surgery. But she had lots of discomfort and distress. And what was even more shocking was seeing her drink Coke after the surgery.

There is no question bariatric surgery works for a lot of people. But these experiences make me wonder what price are we willing to pay for the quick fix? There are many known and unknown complications from some of these magic bullets, which often don’t work, especially in the long term.

At the race yesterday, once again most of the food was atrocious. Candy was given away by one of the sponsors. Some cupcake company was handing out sugar-laden cupcakes to anyone they could. After you’ve run 3 miles, there is nothing quite like a juicy orange or a potassium-rich banana, which fortunately they had. When will people start connecting the dots and understand that a plant-rich diet combined with a sensible exercise program is the only magic bullet? Ellen’s refrain: “There is not money in broccoli.” Gotta run.

Ellen Jaffe Jones is a certified personal trainer and running coach, and is the author of the best seller, “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day.” She speaks all over the world about eating and staying fit on a food-stamp budget. She can be reached at www.vegcoach.com

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