The scale refuses to cooperate. The track training has been too little, too late. The road miles have been inadequate. The toe surgery scar is still prominent. The physical therapy on the neck continues. But let’s face the truth about moving past 40, 50 and beyond: it’s hard to expect everything to fall into place perfectly for very long.
Take, for example, the relay team I’m running with in Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon next weekend. Our “super masters” team of old farts (I’m actually on the younger side of the group) won a third place trophy a couple years ago for our efforts. High fives and back slaps all the way around. Since then, in the span of two years, two of the guys have had cancer operations, one suffered a debilitating achilles injury, one is having so many issues with meds that he’s stopped running altogether. And me, possibly in the best condition of the group, coming off bone spur surgery and a car crash since my last race.
At this point, we don’t need a training schedule, we just need to know when the orderlies are going to empty our bedpans. Now I know why hospitals sponsor so many races. But winning is not the point. Showing up is. So we are fighting on, laughing all the way. We added some younger, fresh blood to keep us going and will just take a mulligan on all that adversity. Full speed ahead.
That realization, that whatever health and good fortune we have can be a fleeting gift, makes me understand even more why my performance in last year’s Fifth Avenue race remains so special to me– it was one of those rare perfect storms of training, motivation and peaking at just the right time.
But I’m too old to make a perfect storm the enemy of a good run. So I have chronicled and documented all my excuses and gone ahead and done it. This morning, I signed up for this year’s running of the great race. If you’d like to join me on September 22 in Manhattan, click here to sign up for New York Road Runners’ Fifth Avenue Mile presented by Nissan.
I hope my mulligan singlet still fits.
The worst part (so far) of my fallback into blortness is showing up for interval training runs and having someone congratulate me on the Runners World article and my performance in last year’s race. I smile and humbly accept the attention, then watch them blow by in the sprints and imagine what they must be thinking. “THAT dude ran a 5:34?,” I can hear them sneer in my head.
Maybe in the same way that last year’s performance inspired a few folks to think again about what was possible, this year’s will offer another lesson. “If that guy could do it, anyone could.” And it’s true.
That’s me, always teaching.