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Nelson runner making tracks around the country

Drina Haviland, desert trucking in the High Sierra 50-mile race around 2005 in Bishop, California.



Drina Haviland of Nelson won a first place showing at the Southern Indiana Classic half marathon held Sunday, April 10, at Evansville, Indiana. At the finish, Haviland took first in her class (females 60 to 64), completing her run over the humid 13.1 mile course in two hours and 41 minutes.

Haviland traveled to Evansville prepared to run a full marathon (26.2 miles), but that longer race was cancelled due to heat and humidity.

"When we got there, the heat index was so high the fire department along with the race officials decided to cancel the marathon and move all the marathoners into the half marathon. That only helped me, 'cause I trained to run a marathon," Haviland said.

"The next finisher in my age group was about six minutes behind me," she said. Haviland turns 63 this spring.

"I started running when I was 49," she said. "I started from scratch at 49 and ran 26.2 miles (a marathon) one year later. I can still remember my first marathon. It was a great feeling to finish it."

She was already a serious walker, steady strolling 45 minutes daily, when she graduated to running. As she began training for a marathon, Haviland plotted her training runs on a calendar: long runs interspersed with short ones.

"Your body has to get used to being on your feet and running the pavement for hours," she explained.

Long-distance running is all about pacing and energy management, Haviland said. She strives to conserve energy at the start of a race to stay strong to the finish. "I want to be jogging or running throughout the race," she said, so she monitors speed and heart rate with her mind on the long haul.

"I jog for two to five minutes, then walk briskly one or two minutes," Haviland said. "The run/walk allows the older runner to extend your run energy and rest your heart in the walking phase."

"I run with a heart rate monitor," she said. "I run with that data on my wristwatch hand. It actually has a GPS, too. It's a pretty sophisticated piece of equipment, but it looks like a watch." Keeping her heart rate under 150 near the beginning of a race conserves body energy, Haviland said. "It's gonna be coming up as you go," she said. "If I see it go real high, I just stop right there and walk and let it go down."

That gets her to the finish line, she indicated. "At the end, it doesn't matter," Haviland said. Then, she can turn up her speed for a sprint to the tape.

In the Indiana race, a young woman tried to move beyond Haviland as they neared race’s end. “'My,' I said. 'I am not gonna let her pass me at the finish,'” Haviland remembers thinking. “So I guess I can be competitive.

Continued on 2B  My heart rate was 170 and then went higher. I beat her,” Haviland laughed. “That was fun. I bet she was in her late 20s. She was a young girl.”

To keep hydrated through all of the pavement pounding, Haviland relies on a CamelBak hydrator––basically a water bottle inside a backpack. Clamping a pinch valve between her teeth feeds a sip of water through a plastic tube. Most races provide hydration stations with cups of water or electrolyte liquids along the race route, Haviland said, but she prefers her own system.

"I don't have to stop and wait in line to grab a cup," she explained.

The Indiana race was over paved roads, through farmland and residential neighborhoods. It was hilly and hot, Haviland said. "It was so hot, and I drank probably 45 ounces of water," she said. My pack holds 60 ounces, and I drank most of it sipping."

"I also carry electrolyte capsules, which are fancy salt pills," Haviland said. "I take so many per hour, depending on how hot it is, because your electrolytes can get thrown off, and then there are problems."

Asked about hitting a pain threshold in the middle of a high-endurance run, Haviland said, "I wouldn't call running painful at all. Your muscles get fatigued," she allowed. "But I can run through that, because I've trained."

"It'll come around," she said. "Sometimes you need nutrition. They [race organizers] will have oranges and bananas, and I'll eat Gel. It's a nutrition supplement for runners. You just tear off the top of that and squeeze some in, and the fatigue feeling goes away. It's kind of sugary. You only have so many calories in your body. It helps to feed your body some nutrition, anything with calories.

"I'd rather have real food," Haviland said. "I'd really like to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That's one of my favorites. But it's really difficult to run with a sandwich. It gets all mushed."

To stay ready for a long run, Haviland keeps to a training schedule, running with her husband from Nelson to Ball Ground on a frequent basis.

"There are a lot of runners in Nelson, which, I think, is phenomenal for a small town," Haviland said. "Some run with baby jogging strollers. There's a couple guys that run with their dogs."

In addition to her road training, Haviland participates in a weekly water aerobics class, another for yoga, and does yoga exercises at home.

"I started running when I was 49, and I ran my first marathon for my 50th birthday," Haviland said. "You can start running at middle age, and, if you train properly, you can stay physically fit in your 50s and 60s and hopefully 70s. I plan on running when I'm 80."

For others at middle age toying with taking to the track, Haviland said you can start out slow. "Start walking," she suggested. "Instead of watching TV, go for an hour walk. Change your thinking, change your life."

"I have two adult children, two sons," Haviland said. "I can outrun both of them," she laughed.

Since becoming a runner, Haviland has run in some 50-mile races that take most of day to complete. By comparison, her half marathon win at Evansville was a sprint but a symbolic return to the field.

"The best part of winning that was, 11 months before, I had a brain tumor removed and an aneurism repaired––eight hours of surgery," Haviland explained. "Then, to be able to come back, I had to start my training all over again. After I was released from my doctor's care, I had to start from scratch to build up mileage."

She began running again six weeks after brain surgery. "I lay there thinking I want to get out of here and start doing something," Haviland remembers. "I was more inspired than ever to run. So now I'm gonna run a marathon or farther every month this year."

She turns 63 June 8. When interviewed, Haviland was looking forward to a run at Nashville, Tennessee.

"The Nashville Country Music Marathon," Haviland said. "I can hardly wait. There's a country-western band every mile for 26 miles, and they even have a dancing area beside each band. I might have to bring an extra Gel pack, so I can dance some at mile 22 or something," Haviland smiled.

This runner is back.


Linda Hughes
0 #1 Linda Hughes 2011-05-15 18:42
Drina .. you are my hero!! My daughter turn 29 on June 8th too! :) Thanks for all of your positive mentoring!!!
Linda Hughes
0 #2 Linda Hughes 2011-05-16 09:12
check this out.
0 #3 MJ 2011-05-16 10:28
Drina, what a great article! and I just love the photo. You didn't tell us you were a celebrity! You are truly an inspiration to me. I hope you're enjoying your time in California .... the weather here has turned cool believe it or not ... great for running, but I'm sure it's only temporary. Looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks!

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