I think we can all agree that New Year’s 2022 was really … something.
For me, the New Year is always … something. January 1 is my birthday.
And the icing on this 2022 birthday cake was that I turned 6-OMG. [screaming Edvard Munch emoji with gray hair and eye crinkles]
When I was 6, my paternal grandmother told me she was 39. My own mother was 40 at the time. I ran to my father, shrieking, “Guess what! MY mother is older than YOUR mother!” Cue 54 years of family hilarity.
True story: My paternal grandmother took a WHOLE DECADE off her birth year on her passport! How? Who knows? I stand in awe of her genius.
Today with race results on the internets forever and ever, there’s no hiding from your age. Now I am officially running in my 60s!
And I am beginning to wonder at what point will I cross that thin line between being “that woman who runs” to “that crazy old lady who insists on doing this amusing shuffle that she calls ‘running’”?
My 17-year-old daughter says, “You crossed that line a long time ago, Mom.”
I look around me: In the New York City Marathon in November, I was among 613 women in the 55-59 age group. Among women running in their 60s, the number dropped to 323 in the 60-64 age group and 122 in the 65-69 group. I am grateful that one of my dearest running pals is among those ranks, which inspires me to sign up for the next event.
To answer the inevitable questions: My knees are fine; my hips (mostly) don’t complain; my lower back is okay. My feet? Don’t ask. More importantly, don’t look! At my annual physical when I told my doctor that my feet hurt when I get out of bed in the morning, she looked at me and said, “Mmmmm.”
I know I’m lucky to be running in my 60s, especially during these exhausting, crazy times. I’m grateful for mostly uncomplaining knees, hips, back. I’m grateful for the women who ran before me, breaking barriers, paving the way, Wilma Rudolph, Kathrine Switzer, Grete Waitz and so many more.
“Sorrow in the face of aging would be a poor response to such good fortune,” the lovely Southern writer Margaret Renkl wrote in “I Just Turned 60, but I Still Feel 22.” I still feel 22, too! (Well, except not my feet.)
Yes, I’m tired. Yes, I’m slowing, to paraphrase Hemingway, “gradually and suddenly.” It’s better than the alternative. And anyway, my mother reports that the precipitous slowing doesn’t happen until after age 75.
Mother will turn 94 in February. She still goes (with my sister) for a 1+ mile walk every. When she gets back home, she plops on the couch, picks up a pen, and records the exact distance, route, walking partner, and day’s temperature in her training log. I do that too!
“It’s important to keep moving,” Mother says. “If you stop, you stay stopped.”
Words to live by! May we all keep doing this amusing shuffle called Life well into our 90s.