I did a short triathlon last weekend. It was a course I’d done before and I was with my triathlon team. I was thrilled when I got 2nd place in my age group and insisted that we wait around – in the cold and rain – for over an hour so I could stand on the podium and collect my commemorative beer glass (even though I don’t drink beer).
The race official started the awards announcements with the younger age categories. As he read the names of the winners in the 20-24 age group, the podium was bare. He moved on to 25-29 and 30-34, and so on. Nearly every time, only 1 or 2 people climbed the podium. However, when he got to the 45-49 age group and higher, the podium was full. Nearly all of the winners, men and women, in the “older” age groups had braved the elements and waited their turn to stand on the podium. As the ages got higher, the cheers got louder and longer. Those “kids” missed something. Not just a moment of glory, but also the satisfaction of achieving something. The satisfaction of overcoming the parts of aging that try to slow us down, of battling the attitudes that say “you’re too old,” of ignoring the aches and pains that sometimes have us saying “I don’t want to.”
On Wednesday mornings, my alarm rings at 4:45 am so that I can travel 40 minutes for my mid-week triathlon team work out. I spent most of my junior high and high school years coming up with creative excuses about why I couldn’t do PE, but I rarely miss a triathlon workout now. One recent day as I was sweating and really challenging myself, I looked around at my teammates. Although there is a lot of ethnic and geographic diversity among us and we have traveled many different paths, we have much in common too. Most of us are well educated professionals with demanding careers that require us to make a special effort to carve out time for ourselves – AND nearly all of us are over 50! Clearly, we realize that there is something special about being together, working hard, and competing against ourselves, especially “at our age.”
Although I never really envisioned myself as being “over 50,” I have arrived here to a point of great gratitude for what my body can do and for the desire to make it do more. Obviously, I’m not alone. So many of us are doing more and doing it better at this age than we ever dreamed possible.
You may not want to do triathlons or endurance sports, but there is a podium somewhere for you, whether it be physical fitness or some other personal achievement that you’ve been working towards or have your eye on. Whatever it is, now is the time to make it happen. So, climb the podium, take a bow, bask in the glow, and plan your next challenge!!