Friday, August 31, 2012

When I Grow Up

I don't know about you but I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I "grow up".  Over the last few years several things have become clear to me, the big one being that I want to be healthy enough to remain active well into my Golden Years.  Given that I'm only 41, it seems weird to be thinking about being a senior citizen.  I mean why rush things??  But, as Gary likes to remind me, I'm closer to 60 than I am to 20.  (Isn't he wonderful?) 
I started thinking about the whole age thing last weekend when I was at the Toronto Island Tri.  As I was walking down to the water with Gary, we were walking behind this older woman who was in freaking amazing shape.  I looked down at her calf and saw the number 73 written on her leg.  I turned to Gary and said I want to be just like that when I'm her age.  I believe that I'm on the right path.  I also believe that it's never too late to start to incorporate fitness into your life.  If you're able bodied, you're never too old to do anything, you just have to be smart about it.  Age is just a number, not an expiry date.  I think too many people see age as a limiter or use it as an excuse for not getting out there and doing things.   Even I've been accused of playing the age card by some of my younger training partners!  In my defense, I think I have a pretty good idea as to what my body is capable of and what it's limits are.  I realize that I'm not 25 any more and that some things (like recovery!) just get a bit more challenging when you get older.  Of course the young 'uns don't know that yet, but their time will come.  Right, I'll stop sounding like an old fart now and fill you in on who I want to be like when I grow up.

Sister Madonna Buder .(a.k.a The Iron Nun)

She didn't start working out until she was 48 years old. She did her first Ironman at 55, which was 27 years ago.  Ironman was looked at as an extreme sport at that time, totally on the fringes. For an older woman to jump into that with both feet is totally inspiring.  Over the last few years, Ironman has had to keep adding age categories as she continues to compete.  She has competed in over 325 triathlons including 45 Ironman races.  45!!  This year, at the ripe old age of 82, she completed Ironman Canada in 16:32:00.  Well under the 17 hour cut off.   Talk about inspiring.  I can only hope to be that able bodied at 82 years old.  Hell, I hope I'm still alive at 82 years old!


Ed Whitlock

Ed is a Canadian running legend whose unmistakable mane of white hair makes him easy to spot in a crowd.  Mr. Whitlock ran track in his teens and then took up running again in his 40's.  The laws of aging say that as you get older your speed declines.  Apparently Ed didn't get that memo.  In 2000, he become the oldest person to run a sub 3 hour marathon (2:52:47), at 69 years old!!  He managed to hold that streak every year up until he hit 75 years old.  At 75 he managed to set the record for the 75-79 year old age category by running a 3:08:35 in 2006 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  The following year at the Rotterdam Marathon, he managed to drop 4 minutes and run a 3:04:54.
I'm not done yet.   He did it all again in 2011 when he turned 80.  80 freaking years old.  In April of 2011 he ran the Rotterdam Marathon in 3:25:43 and then bettered that time by 10 minutes in Toronto at the Waterfront Marathon to 3:15:54.  I ran beside him for a bit during that race.  I was only doing the half but to see him in action up close was pretty amazing.   I have to wonder if he'll be racing again this year.

I love the fact that both of these people started on their path late in life.  Sure Ed ran as a teenager but there is a big jump between your teen years and your 40's.  I find their drive and dedication to their sport totally inspirational and I hope that if I take care of myself, that I too will be busting my butt well into my Golden Years.

Do you admire any older athletes?



Kate said...

Wow! I had no idea about these people, and now I want to know more about their stories.

t's not something I've given much thought to before, but my Dad used to run (marathons) and do decathlons. He had a hip replacement two years ago, hasn't run for over ten years, and never will again. He's 50 tomorrow. Today he did a 60km bike ride in preparation for a 75km race. I'm inspired!

Phaedra Kennedy said...

Wow, your dad is totally an inspiration! Good for him for continuing to be active. And Happy Birthday to him too!