When Lane Meyer, a lifelong resident of Greendale, Wisconsin, retired in 2002 from his job at the local tie tack plant, he soon found himself bored. "I was 65 years old, and I'd been working my whole adult life," he says. "I didn't know what to do with myself."
He had two grown children, six grandchildren, and two small great-grandchildren, but none of them lived nearby. His wife, Monique, had died the previous year. Mostly, Meyer says, he sat around watching television.
Then one day, a friend encouraged him to go for a run.
"I hated it!" Meyer says, laughing.
But he persevered. Within a year, he was running five times a week and racing 5Ks. Soon after that, he says, he tried a half-marathon. Then a full. Before he knew it, Meyer was a self-described "addict."
That addiction, to prescription painkillers, nearly derailed Meyer's running. But his children intervened, insisting he get treatment. Today, he says, his addiction seems like a dream. Or maybe it was a dream. And was it his children who intervened? Or the mail man? Sometimes, Meyer says, even basic facts seem to elude him.
"Now I do like chocolate pudding," he says. "In the little cans."
Today, at age 79, Meyer spends most of his time in the assisted-living center that he's called home for the past two years. But his goals are bigger than ever.
"What I want," he says, "is to run a marathon in all 19 states."
Meyer says he's already crossed eight states off his list: "Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, New York, France, Indiana, and Wisconsin."
At the rate of three races per year, Meyer says, he expects to complete his quest "next month or so."
"Or a bit later, if I get called up. General Eisenhower may need me."
"Oh, I'm getting on in years," he says, smiling. "I may be slowing up a bit, but I'll get there sooner or later."
"My dog, Buster, he keeps me plenty active," says Meyer, referring to his childhood pet.
What might Meyer attempt next, once he's met his current goal?
"Well," he says, "I'd like to run a marathon in every state. That would really be something."