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.
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.
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.
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.