Anne Garrett is a remarkable athlete.  She recently topped her own mark to set an American record in the half-marathon.

But what's truly remarkable is her own number - she's 81 years old! 

"There aren't too many people in my division, you know, so that makes it a bit easier," Garrett told Runner's World recently.

Garrett finished the recent Surf City USA Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, Calif., setting a pending American record of 2:13:23 in the 80-84 age group. She was 80 years old at the time of her performance, but turned 81 four days later.

Garrett, who lives in Carlsbad, Calif., didn't take up running until the ripe young age of 72. She said she wanted to walk a half-marathon to start, but she ran it.  Since that day, she hasn't stopped running.

She took up race walking at 64, following the death of her husband.

"(Running has) made me more aware of who I am and it has helped me not to feel sorry for myself, not to get depressed," Garrett told Runner's World. "... So if I ever start feeling sorry for myself, I put my shoes on and a take a little run somewhere."

Garrett is the spokeswoman for the Move Your Feet Before You Eat! © Foundation, which brings fitness to the local schools in Oceanside, Calif. Garrett and her team take elementary school-aged children outside to run and play.  She helps instill the importance of exercise and outdoor activity into underserved schools.

"The children love to know that they can do it," Garrett said in a blog post on the foundation's website. "And I take them for a run around the field and tell them of the importance of running. They love running with me; they think I'm famous!"

Garrett plans to keep running for as long as her lean legs will carry her.

"I am proof that running will give you longevity and vitality," she said in the blog post.

Garrett is not alone in her pursuit of good health and athletics well into older years. According to The New York Times, more and more people in the 60-and-up range are in training for a race or athletic event.

For instance, this year, roughly 12,000 older athletes will take part in the National Senior Games, formerly known as the Senior Olympics, the Times reported. That's an increase of 2,500 participants from when the games started in 1987.

One difference between older and younger athletes, aside from the obvious differences of appearances and speed? The older participants want to focus on training rather than seeking out the latest technological advancements and training aids to help them win, according to Kris Swarthout, coach of the USA Triathlon's Team USA.

Experts say it's important to be active at older ages today more than ever, and that those in the older-age brackets should consult with a physician before undertaking any training regimen.