Not Old Yet! Ten Month Journey from Low Cardio to Half IM

author : trad_it
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Now, for the last 20 years I’ve always though that jogging seemed about as interesting as watching paint dry, and you know what? That’s how it turned out to be.

Last March I turned 40. I tried to fight it, but no matter what I did the days kept on ticking by. So I knew that, because of forces that were out of my control, I would turn 40. Friends told me that it would not hurt; it would be just another day. Lies, all lies!

My struggle against turning 40 started the previous October. One day I woke up and decided that although the inevitable could not be avoided, I would prove to myself that being 40 doesn’t mean that from that point on I might as well just sit home counting the days go by; that at 40 I could still be fit! That morning, having never jogged before in my life, I decided that I would run the Ottawa Marathon at the end of the following May. Hey, I’d done sports in the past; I figured that 8 months would be enough to train up to that distance…

So, within a week I found a training program on the net, bought running shoes and a HRM, and was off training.

Now, for the last 20 years I’ve always though that jogging seemed about as interesting as watching paint dry, and you know what? That’s how it turned out to be. Four to five times a week, I would put on my gear, get out of the house and do my run. Within minutes, the thought of aging would be replaced by, “This is so freakin’ booooring”! To make matters worst, most of my runs were done at night. You see, I still wanted to spend some time with my wife and almost-4-year-old son and do my part in maintaining the house. To do so, I would do my runs after I put my kid to bed, finished the chores and spent some time with my wife. So my runs would rarely start before 8:30PM and would sometimes begin as late as 10:00PM.

I can already hear you say, “Why not just run in the morning”? Tried it, hated it even more! Are you nuts? Get up early just to do something that I find absolutely mind numbing?

So the first month went by. Still hated running.

November came around with some shin splints. A few sessions at the massage therapist along with some instructions on how to stretch took care of that.

Things started to look up by December. Even though I still found jogging as much fun as melting ice with my armpits, it felt good once I got going (the running, not the ice melting…).

Winter went well. I kept on following the program. Then, sometime in February, I had an epiphany. To me, being able to complete a marathon meant that I wasn’t old; I could still play hard. But (and here is the epiphany), if I failed to do the marathon it would mean that yes, I was old. All of a sudden this marathon thing took on a whole other dimension…

Anyway, to make the rest of the story shorter and get to the half Ironman, I ended up injuring myself during the final two long runs before the race and couldn’t do the marathon.

So, the moral of that story is that yes, I am getting old.

The story obviously doesn’t end here: all that running now had me somewhat addicted to exercise.

But what was there to do? I figured that I might as well bike. You see, I have this other age-related thing that goes along the line, “I’ll be old the summer I can’t complete a 100k bike ride.” Do you think I’m age obsessed? Maybe a bit anal? So sure, the marathon didn’t go quite as planned, but dammit I would be doing my ride!

So off biking I went.

Pretty soon a thought came to mind: I was biking, I knew I’d be running again eventually so hey—why not swim and do a half Ironman sometime during the summer? Seemed reasonable.

Three more months of training went by and finally, the day came.

Enter the Ste-Agathe half Ironman. This race I was able to complete (in 5h48,) and you know what? It was really, really satisfying.

Strangely, by now it was no longer about the age thing. It was about seeing if I could rise to the challenge that I had given myself and complete an event that was, at the onset, outside my abilities.

As I type this I realize that the thing that I feared last October wasn’t the loss of fitness or health; it was the erosion of will, drive and motivation. The commitment and effort that I put into this task proved to me that yes, I was still alive and not yet diminished by time.


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date: September 3, 2005