March 28, 2014
For immediate release

For retired pathologist, 26.2-mile bug came late

Larry Lieb reminds us it’s never too late to embrace the marathon.

The retired pathologist started training for his first marathon when he was 60. He finished that one and 13 others before getting an idea in his head to do something special after turning 80.

“I had my heart set on running a marathon when I was 80,” said Lieb, who went out and reached his goal Sunday by finishing the Modesto Marathon in 5 hours, 57 minutes and 38 seconds.

“It was very good. I did much better than I anticipated.”

Lieb, who lives in Carmichael with his wife Evie, overcame his share of adversity in completing his 15th marathon.

He missed several weeks of training after developing quadriceps tendinitis in September. He underwent physical therapy and developed a plan that threw conventional wisdom out the window.

Lieb went the undertraining route, averaging 12 ½ miles a week for his four-month buildup to Modesto. He did get in a 19-mile long run 18 days before the race, but did it at faster than his marathon pace, not slower.

On race day, he opted to alternate running for 1 ½ minutes and walking for 2 minutes for the first 20 miles, then running for one minute and walking for two minutes in the last 6.2 miles.

“My main satisfaction out of the whole process is I really kind of came up with a plan,” Lieb said. “I just found that plan worked for me.

“The walking, the running, I just did not get tired. I could have kept going.”

Lieb has also completed a handful of ultra races, including two 50-mile events.

Evie has planted three trees in the American River Parkway to honor her husband’s long-distance runs.

Lieb, who directed laboratories at Mercy San Juan and Mercy Folsom hospitals, serves on the board of directors as treasurer of the Sacramento Running Association, which puts on the California International Marathon.

He’s finished 13 CIMs, owns a personal best of 4:55:49 and plans to run the race again in December.

Why stop now?

“I’m looking forward to the next one,” he said.

Lieb figures running has kept him healthy. He carries 121 pounds on his 5-foot, 7-inch frame, a far cry from the 198 pounds he weighed two years after getting married in 1960.

“I was the fat little kid who loved sports,” he said. “I had no hand-eye coordination … That’s why I love running. You just need to work at it.”

No matter how young you are.