Age is just a number – A story about finding love for running later in life

Hi, my name is Bruce Ahlf and I’m happy to be one of the San Francisco Ambassadors for the 2013 Marathon.  I turned 59 this year in August.  I’ve only been running for two years.  My wife was doing the couch to 5k to help her lose weight and suggested that we try a 5k in 2010.  My first reaction was to tell her that, “I can’t run.”  She told me that at 6 ft 4 I could “walk” faster than she could run.  So I decided that I would do the race for my wife.  Our first race was October 24, 2010 and we ran through a pumpkin field.  Well, mostly I just walked through that pumpkin field with a smidgen of running thrown in.  I finished 570/726 with a pace of 13.17.  I decided well that WAS kind of fun and if I really worked at running I could do a better pace.  Oh and did I mention, I’m very competitive?  So I asked my wife to see if there was another race we could do.  We did a couple of 1.5 mile fun runs in November and then another 5k in December (where I did a 10.03 pace) and I was hooked.  So I suggested to my wife that we do a half-marathon.  Her reaction was, “You DO realize that is THIRTEEN POINT ONE MILES?!”  She finally agreed and we signed up for the Arizona Distance Classic.  We went out and drove the course and it was a LOT of hills.  Every Saturday we were up and out there running that course from the front end, from the back end, adding more miles every weekend.  On March 27, 2011, only five months after doing that first 5k, we did our first half marathon.  It took me 2 hrs 14 min to finish.  During that first year I competed in twenty-two races, two of which were half marathons and I also did the Warrior Dash.

And to start our second year of running , we of course, competed in that race through the pumpkin field.  I finished 136/678 with a pace of 9.10.  Yes, a big improvement over that first race.  It took me 41 min 16 secs to finish that race the first year and only 28 min 31 secs to finish it in year two.  But I found I love to run.  I love how it makes me feel.  I love the new friends I’ve made through running.  I love that how I do depends totally on me and the effort I am willing to put in to the training.

SFM Ambassador Bruce

My second year of running had me thinking about doing a full marathon.  My stepson, for Father’s Day, paid for the Phoenix Rock n Roll marathon that was to be held in Jan 2012 so now I was committed to do my first FULL marathon.   The training began, I competed in a few 5k’s, ran another half marathon in December and then Jan 15, 2012, came and I could only hope I was ready.  Could I really do 26.2 miles?  It took me 4 hrs 54 min to complete but you could not have wiped the smile off of my face as I pumped my fist in the air when I crossed that finish line.  2012 was an exciting year as I also was part of a team to do a Ragnar race.  I ran the Arizona Distance Classic again completing it in 2 hrs 2 min this time (12 min faster than the year before).  I did the Mt Lemmon half which is ALL uphill and finished second in my age group.  My wife and I did the inaugural Hollywood half marathon.  I went with friends to run the OC half marathon.  My friend, Keith Schlottmann, who was an ambassador in 2012 for the San Francisco marathon talked me in to signing up.  So July found Keith, my wife and I road tripping it to San Francisco.   How exciting to run across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I completed my second full marathon, beating my PR only by a minute.  I commemorated my run by having San Francisco 26.2 tattooed on my calf.

My second year of running has come to a close with one last 5k before we begin year number three.  Our first race will of course be that pumpkin patch.  What a great honor to end my second year of running by being selected to be an Ambassador for the San Francisco Marathon in 2013.  My wife laughs and says, “Look at you, the man who told me he “couldn’t” run and now you’ve done 2 full marathons, 9 half marathons, Warrior Dash, Mt. Lemmon, a Ragnar, and 30 or so 5k’s we’ve done together.”

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