65-year-old man finishes his first marathon

Michael Cooper

Wolfeboro resident and former Brewster Academy Headmaster, Michael Cooper, traveled to Washington, D.C., to run his first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, and finished with a time of 5:49:08. (Courtesy photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Michael Cooper runs on an old railroad bed that’s been converted into a trail for walking, running, biking, and cross country skiing. It runs by a lake and through the woods. While running, Cooper will sometimes sing in his head to pass the time, or he will put on a Pandora station and get lost in the music. For Cooper, running is a really good time to clear his head.
Cooper’s passion for running began about three years ago. He wanted to work out more, stay in shape, and wanted something with a goal at the end. His daughter, Allie Cooper, saw that a half marathon was coming up, and thought they should run it together. It was a great experience for Cooper and he has been running ever since.
Now 65, Cooper laced up his gently used gray and black Asics Gel sneakers on Oct. 22 as he took on his first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon.
“I’ll give a marathon a try and see how it goes, since I’ve never done one,” Cooper said. “So I’ll at least try it once and see what happens.”
Cooper found the Marine Corps Marathon online, when doing research, after deciding he wanted to run a marathon. The Marine Corps Marathon has a lottery, and he applied for a slot and was selected.
He trained for the marathon since the beginning of June, using a training schedule he found online. Cooper ran between 30 and 35 miles a week, and ran outside as much as he could, as long as the surface was clear and safe. For many years he ran on and off, going through spurts to try and stay in shape.

“I’ve never been in this good of shape as I am right now," he said. "I’ve always skated and done different activities like that, but this is the most serious I have been with exercising."
In preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon, Cooper ran the Mohawk Hudson half marathon in Albany, New York Oct. 8. He said he picked this half marathon because he has family in the area and it is a relatively flat and picturesque run. He placed third in his division, men 65-69, with a time of 2:09:54.
After finishing the Marine Corps Marathon, Cooper said that mentally and physically he was prepared to run, but he didn’t realize how much of an emotional impact the race was going to have on him.
“While I knew the race, by being sponsored by the Marine Corps, was going to have an honorific component to it, I wasn't fully prepared for just how much, especially in the section of the course called the "blue mile." It's a mile long honoring those who made the supreme sacrifice. Lining both sides of the course are placards with the pictures and names of those killed in action, followed by a gauntlet of U.S. flags held by veterans and family members,” Cooper said. “It was overwhelming to be part of the race during that section, not that the rest of the course wasn't special. It's a piece of the race I'll carry forever.”

Cooper lives in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and is a recently retired Brewster Academy headmaster. He now does part time consulting for the school, but has a lot more free time to spend outdoors and running. He started running while still the headmaster at Brewster, and his colleague, Kristy Kerin, noticed changes in him once he became more committed to running. Kerin said that at meetings he would frequently talk about running, and try and encourage others to get into it.
Not only was Kerin a colleague of Cooper's, but early on in his running career she was also his running partner. They would run together when they traveled for work. As Cooper got in shape, Kerin wasn’t able to continue as his partner.

“I’m not a running partner anymore because he’s too good for me,” Kerin said.
Cooper watches what he eats, and tracks his runs with his black Garmin watch and the map my run app on his phone. He also monitors his heart rate when running.
“He’s conscious that he had borderline diabetes and I think this is also probably what shifted his journey onto running and healthy eating. You know he’s 65 years old and he’s had no blood pressure medication, no nothing. He’s completely healthy and I think that’s really due to the fact that he’s a runner and he does pay attention to what he eats,” his daughter said.
He has immersed himself in a healthy lifestyle, and always knows about the newest fitness trends. When Allie Cooper needs a new kettle bell exercise, she goes to her dad for a suggestion.
As passionate as Cooper is about running, he isn’t in it to compete with others. He does it for himself.

“He’s intrinsically motivated," said his daughter. "He’s not like 'I have to beat somebody' or 'I have to do something better than somebody else.' He just gets personal pleasure out of it."
Allie Cooper thinks her dad will be a lifelong runner but she wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a one-and-done marathon runner, which she says is common.
This year marked the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon nicknamed “the people’s marathon,” because it is the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer prize money. The marathon began at 7:55 a.m. in Arlington, Virginia, between the Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon. All runners had to finish the marathon in 6 hours and 55 minutes or less. The fastest man to run the Marine Corps Marathon was Jeff Scuffins in 1987 with a time of 2:14:01.

By Elizabeth Glover, Meredith native and student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.


Navigating Recovery marks first year of keeping clients ‘on the right path’


Matt Andrews, 29, sits in the common space of Navigating Recovery’s third floor Main Street office on Monday. Andrews, who has struggled with substance misuse since he was 12 years old, has been in recovery for around six months with the help of Navigating Recovery’s services. (Leah Willingham/Laconia Daily Sun)


LACONIA — Matt Andrews knew he needed help.

Andrews, 29, had been addicted to a mix of alcohol and hard drugs for more than half of his life. He had survived a life-threatening overdose and served multiple stints of jail time for drug possession.

The problem was that Andrews had no idea how to live life as a sober adult – and worse, he feared it might be too late to learn.

That was, until Belknap County Recovery Court – a court diversion program designed for people whose substance use caused them legal problems – recommended that he go to the new Navigating Recovery center in downtown Laconia last April.

Navigating Recovery, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary this week, is a community resource center that offers free recovery coaching and workshops for those struggling with substance misuse. The nonprofit is located on the third floor of an office building on the city’s Main Street.

At the center, recovery coaches, many of whom are in recovery themselves, develop personal relationships with clients and help them set manageable goals to further their recovery process.

Andrews, who has lived in Laconia all of his life, has been in recovery for more than six months now. He said he stops in the center a few times a week for Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings and to meet with his coach.

Navigating Recovery even helped Andrews get his job at New Hampshire Electric Motors. The organization's office has computer kiosks where clients can search and apply for jobs.

Andrews likened the recovery process to a game of bowling: recovery being the ball, and the center, the bumpers.
“You start slipping, and they just give you a little shove in the right direction,” he said. “They guide you on the right path.”
Andrews is one of the 241 Lakes Region people Navigating Recovery is working with after its first year on the ground.

Executive Director Daisy Pierce said the organization has come a long way since its opening last November.

When the center opened, most of the recovery coaches worked on a volunteer basis. But as of this month, all eight are being paid, Pierce said.

The center has also developed relationships with local hospitals for referrals.
They started an on-call program where a recovery coach will respond 24/7 to anyone in the ER who survives an overdose, or is hospitalized for another substance misuse issue, such as withdrawal. Pierce said Navigating Recovery has sent 70 coaches to Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital in the past year.
The organization hosts workshops on self care through crafting and yoga, as well as guidance for getting through the holiday season, which can be a difficult time for many struggling with substance misuse. Navigating Recovery also has coaches trained specifically to work with family members of those in recovery.
The nonprofit organization was started by a group of people working in the recovery community who saw a need for a resource center, or a “hub” as Pierce calls it, for people trying to recover from a substance use disorder.
Navigating Recovery was originally funded through a seven-month contract with the state. When that ended, the organization begana two-year contract with the facilitating organization Harbor Homes. Harbor Homes works with eight recovery community service programs and 11 centers in New Hampshire.
The organization’s ultimate goal, Pierce said, is to become self sufficient through Medicaid billing.

To do that, Navigating Recovery’s recovery coaches will need to become certified recovery support workers, a new New Hampshire certification.

The process of becoming a CRSW involves 500 hours of paid or unpaid coaching, an exam and application process. Pierce said several of Navigating Recovery’s coaches should be certified by the new year.

The organization will also need to become accredited with the Council on Accreditation of Peer Recovery Support Services, a national organization that accredits recovery organizations, which will include a multi-day site visit and evaluation.
Pierce said this could be a challenge when the fate of Medicaid is unknown. Even if the organization is able to meet Medicaid requirements, the program could still be cancelled.
But no matter what happens, Pierce said the grassroots dedication that it took to start the organization will be the same dedication that will keep it going.
Former state senator Andrew Hosmer, who is on the board of Navigating Recovery and was one of the organization’s founding members, said he’s confident that Navigating Recovery will be a pillar in the Lakes Region community for years to come.
“I know that when our community faces a great challenge, that Laconia and surrounding communities come together to face that challenge,” he said.

As for the future, Pierce said the organization is planning to work with the Boys and Girls Club in Laconia and local businesses to provide more training on how to talk to children and employees who might be encountering substance misuse personally or in their homes.
She also hopes that the organization will be able to buy a van so they can broaden the reach of those who are able to access Navigating Recovery’s resources.
Pierce said it’s hard to measure the success of the program in the last year. She said her hope is that all of their clients can find jobs, and safe, stable living environments.

But she also knows that recovery isn’t easy – and it’s a lifelong process.
“I’d say one of the biggest markers of success is that if someone does have a setback, they know where to come,” Pierce said. “They come back – and they ask for help again.”


Executive Director Daisy Pierce talks about the progress Navigating Recovery had made in its first year in service on Monday. (Leah Willingham/Laconia Daily Sun)

Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice feels your pain – Grief in the holidays

In the fourth and final installment this National Hospice Month, Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice discusses grief in the holidays.

If you have lost a loved one, you know that holidays can be hard – but know that you are not alone. The feelings you may be experiencing are common and there is help available. And if you are supporting a friend or family member who is experiencing the very real effects of grief, you are not alone either.
We all experience grief differently, and there is no “right way” to grieve. HospiceNet.org offers some thoughts that you may find helpful.

The expression of grief can be affected by one’s history and support system. It can be a cultural response. It can depend greatly on one’s current circumstances. Taking care of yourself and accessing the support of friends and family can help you cope with your grief experience. Grief lasts as long as it takes to adjust to the changes in your life after your loss. It can be for months, or even years. Grief has no timetable; thoughts, emotions, behaviors and other responses may come and go.

There are, however, some commonalities. Here are a few that may help you feel less alone:
People often wonder how long this will go on. At first, grief feels overwhelming, but with time you will find you have greater control over which memories and emotions you access. Though the loss is never forgotten, a time will come when your happy memories far outweigh the devastation you are currently feeling.
Sometimes people feel as if they are going crazy. This is particularly true when the individual’s need to grieve is out of step with social and cultural expectations. Remember that grief affects people physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. You may be required to change just when you feel least able to do so. Validation and permission to grieve from your family and friends can be a powerful comfort. You are not going crazy - you are adjusting to your new normal.
Many people are afraid to “inflict” their grief on others. This is not an unrealistic perception. Others will feel uncomfortable with your emotion. It is important that you are honest about your needs and wishes, rather than leave others guessing about what would be useful and comforting. And to family and friends - never underestimate the power of listening and being a warm presence. Don’t avoid your friend - this can further increase his or her feeling of isolation. There are no magic words or actions. Trust your ability to care.
Lastly, does counseling help? The short answer is yes. You may find it much easier to talk about what you’re feeling with others who are experiencing the same emotions. A safe and supportive environment can make a great difference.
Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice offers many free grief counseling groups. You are invited to attend this one time support group, Grief in the Holidays, to help you cope.  You can choose from one of two sessions: in Laconia (780 N. Main St.) on Thursday, Nov. 30, 3-4:30 p.m. or in Wolfeboro (First Congregational Church, 115 S. Main St.) on Dec. 12, 7-8:30 p.m.  Pre-registration is required.  To register, contact Dan Kusch, Bereavement Coordinator, 524-8444 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For future group counseling opportunities, visit www.centralvna.org. Services are free to all. You do not need to have had a loved one in their Hospice Program to avail yourself of this service.

LRVNA offers help with grief at holidays

MEREDITH — The holidays can be a bittersweet season for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The Lakes Region Visiting Nurse Association will again offer “Coping with Grief through the Holidays” on Dec. 12. The first session will take place from 1– 2:30 p.m. and the second session from 4–5:30 p.m. Both sessions will be held at the LRVNA office located at 186 Waukewan St. in Meredith.
Hospice Spiritual Care Coordinator Carol Snow-Asher will facilitate the conversation, offering support and survival tips. All are welcome.
For more information or questions, call LRVNA at 279-6611.