Commentary: I plan to run the L.A. Marathon at 70

The morning after the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon, I picked up The Times and turned to the race results. Scanning the age-group finishers, I formed a secret plan.

Being a marathon runner assigns me to the category of "weird," but even more peculiar is the fact that I'm thrilled about turning 70 in November. That birthday will make me the kid in the 70 to 74 age group for the March 2014 L.A. Marathon. That's where the secret plan came from. When I read that the top three runners in the female 70 to 75 age group finished in over five hours, I saw opportunity.

Except for the humid, 95-degree-Chicago Marathon in 2010, I've held my marathon finishing times to under four and a half hours. Could I win first place in L.A. in my 70th year?

A cautionary note is that winning depends upon who shows up that day. In October of 2012, I ran Portland and took fourth place behind a first-place runner who beat me by half an hour, as did this year's 70-year-old first place winner in the 2013 L.A. Marathon. If they show up to run L.A., 2014, I'm done.

And that's why I keep my goals secret. If I never tell anybody I'm trying for a first, they'll think I'm heroic just for finishing.

If I reveal my hopes, but L.A. 2014 turns out to be a steamy hot day, or a frigid rainy day, or I get sick, or have to use the porta potty and don't place at all, people will pity me. I don't like pity.

Besides that, here I am publicly announcing my big birthday when I'm already exasperated because age attracts so much comment. I skip over numbers whether ages, paycheck stubs or mortgage papers, but other people insist on exclaiming, "Wow! 69!" Like they're thinking, "Amazing, she still walks upright."

Anyway, you might not believe this but I've never made a time goal for a marathon, except to finish. Marathons take too long, hurt at the end and require that I do the same thing (run) way longer than my normal attention span. Yet, running 26.2 miles is exciting, and it's glorious when you're done.

What if, by announcing my first-place goal, I become self conscious and ruin the mindless fun of running and being surprised if I get a good time? I've never liked people watching me. I'm a stealth competitor, trying to do my best and putting the misery behind me.

You can tell, I'm neurotic about commitments, have math anxiety and prefer to run under the radar. The following sentence is my personal definition of high-risk behavior:

On March 2014, I will run my guts out trying to achieve a first place in the L.A. Marathon, females, 70 to 74. Oh dear.

I'll give you periodic reports on my training over the next year in this space.

Newport Beach resident CARRIE LUGER SLAYBACK is an award-winning teacher and runner whose articles have appeared in Coast and Sassie magazines and the Los Angeles Times

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