Midway volunteer named Runner of the Year in San Diego.

At the age of 30, Robin Paine thought that physical exercise might help relieve some of the stress she was experiencing from her job. She decided to try running. More than 40 years and 70,000 miles later, the USS Midway Museum volunteer is still running and has no plans on stopping.

“I have been so lucky to have all the experiences that have been connected with running,” said Robin who began volunteering on Midway in 2012. “Little did I know that this simple act of putting on running shoes, shorts and a singlet would lead to such adventures, travels and friendships. Nowadays, my neighbors call me the neighborhood teenage runner even though I am 73. Running has been good to me, and I love the person that it has helped to make me.”

Shortly after she began running, she found that she was rather good at it, so she joined the San Diego Track Club (SDTC). In 2023, she was awarded the SDTC Masters Woman Runner of the Year. 

“This was a real honor, as the membership of the SDTC is around 300,” said Robin, who has more than 5,500 volunteer hours. “I mostly compete in 5K and 10K road races, as well as some half and full marathons. I’m consistently placing in the top three of my age group.”

Robin was part of the Summer Olympic Games torch relay in 1984.

Although she’s been running for more than four decades, Robin is exhilarated each time she’s out on the open road or a trail.

“I have experienced runner’s high and it’s a happy euphoric feeling,” said Robin. “You are aware that you are experiencing it and you don’t want to lose the feeling. I feel like I am doing something that is good for me and that I am focusing my energy. I’m keenly aware of my surroundings and I am usually doing my best thinking and problem solving.”

Most of her running is for exercise and training.  She runs virtually every day, varying her distances, speed and types of terrain.  However, over the course of 40 years, Robin feels that she’s competed in more than 1,000 races around the world.

“It’s nice to have a race as a training goal and to place in a race and get an award,” said Robin. “My real joy is when I know that I ran a really good race, either by the way I feel at the finish line or by my clock time.”

One of her most memorable experiences was when she, along with her running team from her work, was asked to be part of the torch relay for the 1984 Summer Olympics.  She and the group ran for a week, carrying the torch from Texas to Colorado.

“It was like being invited to be in the actual Olympics,” remembered Robin. “Everywhere we went we were treated like celebrities. Whole towns came out to see and cheer us. Every little community welcomed us with picnics and barbeques. We were even asked for our autographs. I was so lucky to have this very special time, and I still stay in contact with several of the people that were a part of the torch relay.”

Along with her daily running regimen, Robin also finds tremendous pleasure in the camaraderie with the friends she’s made and continues to make.

“Because we live all over the county, we seldom have a time where we can all workout or train together,” said Robin, who buys a new pair of running shoes every three to four months. “Many of us are training for individual events, but we are all proud to wear our track club uniform when we’re together, whether it’s at a local event or one halfway around the world. We also stay connected via email and texting. So even though we are all focused on our own running, we have a wonderful social side. I have team friends that I have known for over 30 years.”

Being an 11-year Midway volunteer brings her almost as much joy and gratification as running.

“Volunteering for the Midway is a perfect fit for me in many ways,” said Robin, who is a member of Midway’s outreach and knot tying teams. “I not only get to educate our guests, but I get to be the face of the Midway, which I take very seriously. It’s also really fun. We volunteers are a family, a community, and we all have the same goals when it comes to the ship. This feeling of belonging is hard to achieve in such a large diverse city, but it is truly Midway Magic on our ship.”

Robin actually first started volunteering in her hometown of San Jose when she was 12 years old. Giving back to the community was instilled in her by her family, and it has turned into a lifetime goal. Some of her best experiences have come from helping others.

Robin has been running competitively for more than 40 years.

“Volunteering gives people the opportunity to stay connected and give back to their community,” said Robin. “It also provides an environment to learn new things, work, make friendships, and practice kindness. And most important, it gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I did something good.”

As much as she enjoys her time on Midway, running will remain her true passion, and with continued support from her husband and fellow Midway volunteer, Tom, she’ll keep pounding the pavement.

“It’s a joy to support Robin because she is such a determined and talented person,” said Tom, who has more than 3,500 volunteer hours over the last 12 years as a member of the museum’s safety, knot tying and outreach teams. “With Robin being such a gifted runner, I have been able to share many of her adventures. We have also met some people that became very good friends. We probably would not have come by them otherwise.”

“I hope to be running until I hit the grave,” joked Robin. “Seriously, I do weight lifting and specific stretching exercises every day in addition to my daily run. Experience has taught me to rest, or cut back, or stop when my body tells me I need to back off, and now I listen and respect these warnings. If the time comes that I can’t run, then I’ll do a different sport.”

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