I ran my first marathon the year I turned 26. Though the timing was accidental, the numbers gave me a sense that 26 was an age at which I would challenge my concept of what I could accomplish.
I have tried to mark each birthday with some sort of milestone event, or at least a workout that cleverly incorporates my new age—completing my first open-water swim at 27, a timed 29-minute swim as part of my 29th birthday workout.
One would think I’d have something Big planned for my 30th birthday. Instead, I’m marking the milestone not by challenging myself to do something crazy and cool, but by working to foster a sense of acceptance of where I’m at right now, and gratitude for how far I’ve come. Milestone achievements and busy days are cool, and I’ll likely have many of both throughout the next year (starting with outdoor emergency care classes for ski-patrol training starting in August!). But on this particular day, I’m leaning toward taking things one day, one hour, one moment at a time.
In the fall, I might feel ready for my next marathon. Rather than getting my hopes up for a particular race for which I will train with single-minded focus and absurd inflexibility (which I’ve been guilty of in the past), I’m going to see how training goes and up the ante only if it feels right. And this evening, I’m going to celebrate my milestone birthday with a chilled-out trail run with my running group, then a lovely post-run outing at Adega, our favorite wine bar/restaurant.
This all sounds so relaxed and reasonable, right? It’s certainly much smarter than I’ve been about training in the past. But since only three months ago, I couldn’t run at all, the simple miracle of being able to hit the trails feeling healthy and strong seems like enough to fulfill me.
Older and wiser, right?
5 responses to “Older and wiser?”
I would have celebrated my 30th too, but I have been 29 for three years in a row. It’s amazing I know – my wife is 32, me – still 29.
I don’t remember my birthdays anymore…
Have a great Birthday Amy – and enjoy the cake!
I ran my first marathon at age 29–just before my 30th birthday. I had recently gotten serious about losing weight and getting in shape and it seemed like an appropriate way to mark the milestone. I always wondered how long I would be able to stay in good physical form. Would I run marathons for a few years and then quit, giving in to the seemingly inevitable pull of a middle-aged sedentary lifestyle?
A few years later I remember a 5 mile hard run I did on the eve of New Year’s Day 2000. I ran hard that day thinking again about milestones. If nothing else, I could say that at the turn of the millenium I was fit and strong. And again I wondered–would this year be the year I gave in and acknowledged I wasn’t getting any younger?
Since then, I’ve realized that there is no reason why we have to give in. We are not professional athletes who won’t win if they are at 99%.
I belong to a running club and have seen a lot of the same faces for the 15 years I have been attending the weekly runs. Some of the guys that I struggled to keep up with when I was in my late 20’s are in their late 50’s now–and some of them I still struggle to keep up with.
Take it one year at a time, balance the achievable with the desirable, but always remember that the limiting factor is not your body, but your mind.
Older and wiser is right. Sometimes we use a milestone to challenge ourselves, and sometimes we use a milestone to appreciate where we are. Both are good, but both are prisons if we don’t mix it up. We’re more than a total of the workouts we do to reach a goal, and we need to treat ourselves with that respect. Happy birthday, Amy, you deserve it Runner Girl!!
Happy birthday! You’re very mature for your age 🙂 Hope everything continues to heal well for you.