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Life Reimagined: From the Couch to the Boston Marathon

John Knudson at the Boston Marathon with his wife Robin.

John Knudson of Seattle just wanted to get in shape. He never dreamed how far his new passion for distance running would take him.

Today, fifteen years after taking his first run at the age of 52, John just finished running his first Boston Marathon.

"I volunteered for this health study that involved exercising a lot. I got into running then," said John. "I hadn't been real active. I really wanted to make a change and get physically active. I didn't have long distance running in mind when I started. It just sort of evolved."

Over time, John increased his distances. Once he took the bus to SeaTac airport and ran all the way home to Ballard.

"It seemed like a really long way," John said. "And I felt like 'shoot, I can run anywhere'. I could run to Spokane to see my daughter if I had to!"

The Boston Marathon is a little over 26 miles and John finished with his best ever time at that distance, 4:02:26, clocking in at 124th in his division.

Running has given John both physical and mental benefits.

"I wasn't in bad physical shape but not very good either. I've always had depression issues and I just knew I needed something regularly. I didn't think I had the ability to do it. Once I got involved in this structured program, that's what motivated me. Once I got running, it felt right. The depression got much better."

John has reimagined himself as runner, a serious runner.

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"I sort of said in my head, Boston Marathon, I'd really like to do that. I couldn't even imagine getting there. But I thought I'll try running a little harder, a little faster. I surprised myself and I got fast enough that I qualified for Boston."

"This is the time in our lives that is just the start of something, a new phase of it. I think people can do anything they want when they're older."

Do you have a "Life Reimagined" story? We'd love to hear it! Selected stories will receive prizes, including the AARP  Realpad™. Enter your story here or send it in an email to You can submit your entry in written or video form.

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