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Good to Know: 'My legs want to move,' says 90-year-old Austin walker

Marcelina Lazo climbs a rock to hang a

Marcelina Lazo climbs a rock to hang a bird feeder at her home in Austin, Texas. The retired 90-year-old accountant walks for several hours every other day just because she loves it. Credit: Austin American-Statesman (TNS)/Ana Ramirez

When Marcelina Lazo entered the Statesman Capitol 10,000 back in 1978, she didn’t tell anyone.

Even her daughter didn’t find out she’d paid the $3 entry fee and lined up in at the start of the inaugural run, which unfolded on the trail around Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas.

Not that it really surprised anyone. All of Lazo’s family members know that when Lolah, as she is known, sets a goal, she reaches it. (She was signed up for the 2019 Cap 10k, which bills itself as the largest 10-kilometer race in Texas and one of the top 10 in the nation, with friends and family, but it was canceled because of weather.)

The retired 90-year-old accountant, a petite woman with a perfect gray bob, walks for several hours every other day just because she loves it. Her daughters’ athletic accomplishments, she insists, are much more impressive.

“My Fitbit tells me to get up and walk,” she says, tapping the device on her wrist. “My legs also tell me. My legs want to move, so I get up and either walk around the house and pick stuff up or go outside and walk.”

Walking the aisles

Lolah’s strolls usually take her to the Walgreens less than a quarter of a mile away, where she walks up and down the aisles for an hour. Sometimes she tacks on a few laps inside the nearby Tuesday Morning store, or a trip to the Starbucks coffee shop.

Lolah’s daughters say their mother has always been fit. Lazo raised her family in California, where everyone spent time outdoors. Even now, she spends time each year in Seattle with one of her daughters, and her favorite pastime is hiking.

Even a two-week hospital stay for pneumonia a few years ago couldn’t keep Lolah down. She began walking the hospital corridors as soon as she was permitted, to the cheers of the nursing staff. Walking, she says, makes her feel good and helps her continue to live independently.

"[I don’t understand] people who are younger than me who sit and watch TV all day and don’t do anything,” she says. “I think that makes you feel older. I believe as long as your body doesn’t discourage you, as long as you feel fit, do something.”

She doesn’t remember exactly how many times she’s done the Cap 10k, but she estimates seven or eight. She’s also done the Komen Race for the Cure 5k, the Zilker Relays and a relay triathlon at Sea World in San Antonio.

Not wild about hills

Lazo says the hardest part of the race is the hills. She likes the stretch through the West Austin neighborhoods best and loves to see runners wearing costumes, bands performing roadside and clapping onlookers.

“It’s pretty exciting, and I’m still surprised how healthy and willing to do something I wouldn’t do on my own she is,” says daughter Jody Lazo, 59. “It’s not easy.”

Her other daughter, Alysia Korelc, 67, is a marathon coach for USA Fit who is now training for an Ironman Triathlon.

If Alysia can run 26.2 miles, Lolah says, certainly she can walk six. Her advice to others? “Keep a positive attitude, and don’t let anything bother you.”

Her friends, Lolah says, are amazed at what she does. She just shrugs.

“I keep saying it’s only a 10k,” she says. “And like I keep telling everyone, 90 is just a number — nine-zero.”

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