At my last race I was waiting for the award ceremony, knowing that I was the second Master’s female, and I have to be honest I was disappointed to be second (although mostly with myself). A fellow athlete standing next to me told me that I should be really happy because the woman who was faster than me that day was 13 years younger than I, and I should be satisfied because she was so much younger than I am.
Then there are the innocent, but detrimental comments made by friends who comment on the negative aspects of aging not realizing that they are starting to brainwash themselves into thinking that they are ‘old’, and that this is out of their control.
Dr. Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist observed: “The regular and ‘irreversible’ cycles of aging that we witness in the later stages of human life may be a product of certain assumptions about how one is supposed to grow old. If we didn’t feel compelled to carry out these limiting mindsets, we might have a greater chances of replacing years of decline with years of growth and purpose”
It’s a slippery slope when you start to make excuses as to why you’re slower. Yes, we are getting older every day, and we will never be as fast as our younger selves, but this doesn’t mean that we need to give up something that we love to do. It doesn’t mean that we don’t keep trying. Sure, we may deal with more injuries, but each time we recover from one, there is the joy in competing that was never present when we were younger.
I remember a time where I didn’t care so much about winning or even the racing itself, but more in the times that I achieved. I chased the fast ‘numbers’ at road race after road race. Along the way I found that chasing those numbers was kind of pointless. I was missing the fun in racing. But for that I had to learn how to not be afraid to ‘TRY’. I had to let go of that fear of failure, and that thought that I would hurt or run out of gas before the finish line only to be passed by those I was competing against.
I had to learn that failure is when you don’t take a risk. That thrill of the unknown territory is even more important as we age because as time goes on it’s really easy to get ‘jaded’ or ‘bored’ by what we do. Especially if all we do is chase the numbers.
There is something really exhilarating about taking a chance in a race, pushing yourself harder than you ever thought you could, and no matter how much it hurts you are able t push harder. Sure, you may or may not win something, but the most important thing that you do WIN is that freedom to ‘TRY’.
So here I am, 53 years old, and I am not satisfied with settling for where I am right now. There are still things I want to achieve, and I will continue to ‘TRY’ as I love what I do, how it makes me feel, and the people that I am able to connect with in this sport.
William Shatner (80), in a recent radio interview, was asked when he was going to ‘slow down’. His answer was to question the interviewer that if she had something she loved to do, why stop?
To all those men and women who decide to start this sport (or any sport for that matter) in their middle years, I will end with this message: Keep the courage, as you have no idea what you can achieve, the many ways you will become a stronger more confident person, and that when you go out to ‘TRY’ you will continue to find joy in your life!