Tag Archives: middle age

When the Runner is Ready

IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE FATIGUE.

I’d just finished the Potawatomi 50 and was seated at one of the base camp picnic tables, removing my soaking, mud-caked shoes and examining my feet. To my surprise I had no blisters, just a raw spot on one toe. Pretty amazing given what they’d been through.

Next to me, a woman about my age was conversing with someone about the trail. She’d been pacing one of the ultrarunners and her knees were acting up. She said something like, “I wish I’d been doing this twenty years earlier. I could have done more loops.”

As an introvert I’m not comfortable butting into other people’s conversations, but my natural restraint was offline. Maybe it was the finisher’s high, or the need to talk to someone after a long day of solitude, or I was just too damn tired to feel awkward. At any rate, I spoke up.

“Hey, Emily,” I said. (I knew her name because it was printed on her hat.) “As one person who discovered running later in life to another, let me tell you that I would have been a terrible runner twenty years ago, because back then I hated running. I wasn’t ready.”

Not that I follow my own advice, of course. I too have “wasted” plenty of time musing about how good a runner I’d have been had I started in my twenties or thirties. No matter how successful we are at something, don’t we fantasize about being even better?

When I was younger, I imagined myself as a famous golf pro (Arnold Palmer was my hero) and even more unlikely, a basketball star. But I’d never, ever, imagined becoming a runner. Nothing about the sport appealed to me; it seemed like a lot of pointless, unenjoyable effort.

And my life back then, with career challenges, raising kids, and other interests, was already full. To train and race like I do now wasn’t feasible without giving up something else I enjoyed. Then in my mid-forties, more time and mental space freed up for new pursuits. Add in my desire to remain physically fit, and the way had opened to give running a try. I’d become ready for it.

I don’t find it surprising that trail ultrarunning has so many participants over forty. I think the “long haul” aspect of it appeals to folks who’ve lived long enough to acquire some perspective. They’ve developed the discipline to see something through when the path is unknown and the end is a long way off.

In the 2016 Kettle Moraine 100, my first hundred-miler, 73 out of the 133 finishers, and six of the top ten, were age 40 or older. And a 74-year old finished too, less than a half hour before the cutoff. He was the first-ever runner over seventy to complete that particular race, but for him, victory and fulfillment wasn’t about his finish time. It was about getting over that line. As it was for me at that race, too.

I finished number 96 out of 133. The crowd went wild. (Trust me.)

As for Emily, she accepted my unsolicited advice with grace, and we chatted about ultrarunning, the trail conditions, other stuff. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was a pleasant conversation. She even said it was nice to have met me. (Whew.)

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Breaking News: Exercise Good, Scams Bad

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS HERE with a couple pieces of information that will be news to you, if you don’t know about them already.

Captain Obvious

1.  The following news is from the New York Times (which is a New York City newspaper):

Study: Exercise in middle age is important to health

Yes, a landmark, ground-breaking study found that men aged between 65 and 83 who exercised several times per week were healthier and less likely to die over the 11 years of the study than men who were sedentary. And there’s more: previous studies have found that not smoking is healthier, as is being moderate with alcohol, and that wealthier people have fewer health problems.

These studies took years to complete and no doubt thousands, if not millions, of dollars to implement. Of course, they could have just asked some middle-aged people why they exercise regularly.

Really, Ms. Times reporter, this is more fun than sitting on my butt eating ice cream.

Really, Ms. Times reporter, this is more fun than sitting on my butt eating ice cream.

Now to give the Times a little credit for running this piece, the study also looked at sedentary people who started exercise in middle age. These people aged nearly as successfully as those who were active their entire lives. All exercisers lived longer and better than those who remained sedentary.

So while exercise throughout one’s lifetime is best, it’s never too late to start and gain the benefits. This is great news. So why are you still reading? Get up and DO something, slouches! Come back in 30 minutes. I’ll wait.

2. There are people online who would love to steal your money during the holidays.

I got a nice message at work today from our helpful SysAdmin, warning us about the proliferation of emails pretending to be invoices, “order confirmations” or offers of free gift certificates. All you have to do is “click here” for details. And if you do, you’re in for a nasty surprise. You, too, can have your identity stolen and your laptop hijacked to join the botnet!

Since I love collecting scam emails (you wouldn’t believe how many lotteries I’ve won that I never entered) I was already aware of the practice. But I just had to share this one.

Home Depot scam email

Looks fairly convincing at first sight, right? Naturally, there are a few clues – like it doesn’t know my name, and the bad grammar. But here’s the kicker:

Home Depot scam email - Sing UpWell, it IS caroling season!

Gotta go. I’m going to do a study to find out if people who stand in the rain get wetter than those who stay indoors. And for a few extra thousand, I’ll also study whether you get wetter walking in the rain, or running in it. Where do I send the proposal?