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Dry Martini: Fifty Years On

If you are reading this on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at midnight tonight I will turn 50 years old. For the record, at midnight tonight, I will be sound asleep in my beloved bed because I am 50 years old and know that staying up past my bedtime only leads to heartache.

With age, comes wisdom, I guess. So there you go. I've dropped some wisdom on you. BOOM, as the kids say.

One highlight of spring in dairy country is refueling with local mint milk. It's like a shamrock shake but less chemical-y.

I mention my birthday not because I am trolling for well wishes (although I won't turn them down) but because turning 50 seems like a big deal, especially when it comes to running. Rumors have it that this is when your body starts to fall apart a little bit faster than it used to. Minor injuries take forever to heal and major injuries lurk around every corner. To say nothing of the everyday stiffness that creeps into 50-year old joints when you sit for too long.

As much as I'd like to say that all of that is poppycock -- and now that I'm 50 I can use words like "poppycock" with abandon -- in my case, it is true. I spent my 49th year learning all kinds of new words like "sciatica," "hypertension," and "TENS unit." Some of that can be blamed on all of the new kinds of stress living through a pandemic has put on all of our bodies. But most of that is a result of no longer being young.

In a perfect world, one where I still have the physical resiliency of a 20-something, these problems would clear right up. Again, with age comes wisdom. I'm pretty sure my next decades will be about managing my aches and pains. And I say this next bit with no sarcasm: that's totally fine.

One upside of now having a comorbidity is that my vaccine category was called. On April 12, I will be ready to party. And by "party," I mean continue doing what I've been doing but worry about the virus a little bit less.

Losing a little bit of the spring in my step isn't a big deal to me. I've never been a zippy runner. I wasn't a collegiate cross-county stand-out. Age-group podiums are things that will always happen to other people. I run because of the way it makes me feel, not because I'm especially good at it.

Having said that, I will say that there are things about living in a 50-year old body that do irritate me. All of this time on video calls really makes me sad about my neck. While my vision has never been 20/20, I am bitter about the sheer number of glasses and contact lenses I now require. Plus, I realized this winter moisture is a thing my body no longer holds on to.

I made the switch to progressive lenses. My dog is unimpressed.

But running remains, for now, anyway, and, hopefully, far into the future.

Speaking of the future, this would be the perfect spot to announce some audacious goal in celebration of my milestone birthday. Prepare yourself for disappointment. I have no BIG DREAM. I am completely at peace with that.

Rest assured, I'm still in lukewarm pursuit of my 50 half marathons in 50 states quest, which has been on hold for a year now. If current conditions re: COVID hold, I'll pick up Rhode Island at the end of June.

Which means that I now need to remount that training horse. Over the weekend, I ran my first ten miler in many, many, many months. It was very slow. There were moments where I wondered if it was a good idea. When it got hard, I leaned into my decade of running experience and knew it would pass. Put one foot in front of the other until I was done.

Mostly, it was all a long run could be, which is a chance to get out from under all of the complex problems a woman can gather in 50 years and focus on one simple act. I will move this (arid, achy) body for ten miles. Even if isolated moments aren't great, find the joy. And that will be my motto for however many more decades I have: Remember the joy, and know the sucky moments will pass if you just keep moving.


18 responses to “Dry Martini: Fifty Years On

  1. Happy merry, my friendly doppelganger, and may the year ahead be filled with hope, love and mirth. I got my first dose yesterday — because Montco PA and all the SEPA counties have had an effed up rollout — and I am just plain thankful. I’m impressed that you have kept up the mileage. I am barely walk running 3-5, because shingles during menopause in a pandemic seems like a good enough reason…ONWARD! I have learned to find the joy [am still learning] and will keep moving [but if I hear the word pivot one more time….].

  2. Happy birthday! Appreciate your thoughts and your good humor. I hit 60 in a couple months… started running at 48. And I hit my half marathon PR at 51. So I say, go forth and conquer (complete with TENS unit)! PS: I didn’t start to fall about wholesale until about 9 months ago 😉

  3. Happy Birthday! I turned 50 a few years ago, and even with all the aches and pains it brings, I can honestly say running and exercise are the closest thing to the Fountain of Youth I know.

  4. Happy Birthday, my “Almost” Birthday Twin! I turned 50 today and I am HERE FOR IT!! Mostly because I, too am now eligible and received the first dose of my Moderna vaccine this afternoon! Cheers and here’s to more of everything good in 2021!

  5. Welcome to the 50’s! You can kick, stretch and kick! Courtesy of old SNL Sally O’Malley videos! I’m heading into my 60’s this year and truly feel my 50’s have been my best decade of running. Age is just a number, keep moving forward and your wonderful sense of humor! I have a feeling you’ll be pleasantly surprised how your 50’s will prove to be very much like your 40’s.

  6. I’ve been 50 for quite some time now, and I’m here to say, it’s not so bad! A gift from Mary Oliver:
    So, be slow if you must, but let
    the heart still play its true part.
    Love still as once you loved, deeply
    and without patience. Let God and the world
    know you are grateful.That the gift has been given.

  7. Happy Birthday! I just turned 60 and can honestly say that age is truly just a number. I had some of my best runs and races in my 50s, and my body felt no different than during my 40s. You will continue to be amazing, so don’t let the date on your birth certificate make you think otherwise.

  8. Happy birthday Adrienne! I also recently turned 50 physically and am still trying to reconcile that in my mind where I am much younger. I look at the camera when taking a selfie and often think, when did I start looking old? Physically, I’m strong and in good fitness condition. I should have no complaints and will run into these middle age years with grace and determination to stay strong in mind and body.

  9. Happy birthday to my birthday twin! As I am also turning 50, this post really resonated with me. As I’ve aged, I’ve begun to care less about time goals and well, really, any goals. Just getting out there to run, clear my head, and move forward at whatever pace I want (or can) is my goal. And I’m okay with that.

  10. Happy Birthday youngster! I have 17 and a half years on you. For my 50th I hiked into Havasupai and camped and hiked out. It was wonderful.No aches and pains to speak of as I still incorporate yoga into my week along with weights, mountain biking and at least 3 miles of swimming….the key is to keep moving definitely!

  11. I’m beginning my sixties… and all that you wrote could have been written by me! Progressive lenses and all. I’m on a break from running (will I be able to get back at it?)

  12. Welcome to your 50s, Adrienne! As I’m exiting them, I can say that this decade is just fine. As you have learned, you’re more at peace with the world, have a bit of maturity to handle all sorts of situations with grace and style, and you can still run the miles. It’s really quite nice.

  13. Happy birthday, and welcome, sort of, to the 50’s! (From the perch of the 60’s). You may surprise yourself, given half a chance—50’s can find you growing stronger, believe it or not! In any case, celebrate you, and enjoy the journey (Read, non-sucky moments)!

  14. I was going to say, welcome to the club! And of course happy birthday! Then I realized I’m over 60 so the 50s are still whippersnappers to me :/). All of what you write rings true. But there is a bonus as you age: it’s a little easier to BQ. Keep on training!

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