Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 23, 2013

Middle of the packers, never give up hope!

I picked up running later in life. I’ve always been a swimmer, and didn’t have the time or desire to focus on land-based racing.

As a result, I’ve always been a middle-of-the-pack runner. And that was fine. I didn’t want the stress of trying to push myself hard and ran mainly for the social aspect and exercise benefits.

Something strange and wonderful has happened, though. I’ve unintentionally gotten faster. I credit the improvement to a good cardiovascular base from cycling to work and swimming.

And for the first time ever, this year, at age 49, I’ve started placing in my age group at small races.

In March, I placed third at the Zooma Half Marathon. In August, I placed third in the National Blueberry Festival 5K and third in the National Blueberry Festival 10K.

But this weekend topped it all. I raced the CASA Superhero Run 5K on Saturday and the Run by the Creek 10K in Dripping Springs on Sunday - and won my age group in both.

Both were small events, but both were incredibly fun and well organized.

For the first, I donned a Wonder Woman costume. That, no doubt, is what made me run faster than normal. I loved tearing around the Mueller development alongside superheroes of all ilk. And at the finish, I met the real Superman. (And I’m sure it was him, because he was tall and handsome and didn’t have a race number pinned to his outfit. And he turned and winked at me, not in a flirty way, but as if to tell me, "Yes, I’m the real Superman. You know it, I know it, but nobody else knows it. Let’s keep it a secret."

For the second, I got to dash out and back on Creek Road in Dripping Springs, a route I’ve cruised by bicycle many times but had never explored on two feet. The weather was glorious - crisp and cool - and I think I was just thrilled to be out there enjoying the scenery, which included cows, geese and a couple of kids in spooky Halloween costumes hiding in the woods.

I love smaller events like the two I raced for the first time this weekend. They keep me motivated and interested in a sport I’m late to embrace.

And the payoffs keep rolling in.