2008 ULTRA RUNNING ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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DECADE CREEP: TRYING TO AGE GRACEFULLY

SUNDAY, AUGUST 3

 
"Age is a matter of feeling . . . not of years."  
- George William Curtis
 
 

You know how it is: some days you have tons of energy and enthusiasm and feel much younger than your chronological age. Other days you're dragging your body and mind around in a funk and feel like you've already got one foot in the grave. Hopefully, you have more days of the former than the latter!

The subject of aging has been on my mind more and more this year. I'm an optimistic person by nature and feel like I'm aging better than many of my peers, but I tend to get more pensive about life at the end of each personal decade. There's something more significant about turning fifty, for example, than hitting forty-nine.

I'm finding the concept of turning 60 in eight months harder to deal with than 40 or 50. It just doesn't fit my image of who I am. I was 22 when my mother turned 60. I thought she was pretty old at that point. Of course, my perception has changed as I've gotten older. I think everyone experiences this phenomenon as they age, especially we Baby Boomers who refuse to think of ourselves as middle-aged, let alone knocking on the door of senior citizenship. "Old" is what, about 80?? My siblings are 66 and 69. I don't think of them as old at all.

Perception is a funny thing.

Do younger people perceive ME as old, now that I'm knocking on 60's door?? I'm sure they do, but it really doesn't bother me all that much. What counts the most is how I feel about it. Yeah, there's a bit of dread, but I'm proud to be in as good shape as I am at this age. I'm narcissistic enough to enjoy it when folks are surprised how old I am!

BEYOND A MID-LIFE CRISIS

"Agnes" is one of our favorite cartoons and the one below from July 13 just cracked me up. Tony Cochran has a truly warped and irreverent sense of humor sometimes. I love this perspective on aging from Agnes' point of view -- probably because it's been my own point of view for several decades!

I went through what some folks would consider a "mid-life crisis" in my late forties. I did a serious re-examination of my life -- my marriage, my career, my interests, etc. -- and decided I needed to make some major changes in the second half of my life to attain some of my other important goals and dreams, while I was still young enough to do it. Although my decisions turned my world topsy-turvy for a couple of years -- and I certainly don't recommend any or all of these rather drastic actions for everyone -- I'm pleased with the decisions I made to get divorced, retire from a stressful career handling child abuse cases, sell my house in Atlanta, move to Montana, and marry a man who shared my passion for travel, adventure, and a healthy lifestyle.

That fella -- Jim! -- turned 60 a couple days ago. He hasn't had time to fully adjust to the idea of being 60 either. No, we don't think of ourselves as 35 much any more, but 60 -- wow. There are some advantages to both of us turning 60 but it's still a difficult concept for us to wrap our brains (and egos) around.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

Sometimes Jim and I think we have ESP because independently we'll be thinking the same (often obscure) thing and realize it a little later when one of us mentions it.

We were doing long runs at the Wolf Creek Greenway on Jim's birthday on Friday, running separately but seeing each other occasionally on the out-and-back course we were following. I was pondering the whole issue of getting older, trying to find the silver lining.

The most obvious advantages to us as runners are 1) that 60 -- in fact, ANY age -- beats the alternative and 2) we'll be at the young end of a new age group for our races the next several years. I'm even researching which ultras haven't been completed by any women over age 60 so maybe I can be the first (or fastest), but there are so many 60+ men that that's not even a consideration of Jim's.

What else? We already enjoy some AARP-type discounts because we're over 55. And at 60 we still won't have quite as many perks as folks over 65. What is there for folks age 60-64 to look forward to (since we're both already retired)?

Ah -- there's Social Security if either of us wants to start drawing at age 62!! That's not so far off any more, is it? Even though we give a cursory glance to our Social Security statements when they arrive every year, receiving money from the system has been so remote for so long that it just hasn't been on my radar until that morning as I ran.

I was surprised when Jim stopped me the next time we saw each other and said, "Hey! I just thought of something -- I can start drawing on Social Security in two years!" I had to laugh at the coincidence of our thought patterns.

I was also glad he was thinking of something positive about turning 60 and not moping about it too much. The bad news is that Jim was a federal employee and didn't pay into the system the 30+ years he worked for the Postal Service (mostly as a computer technician). The good news is that he did pay Social Security on his National Guard and Army income and the jobs he held before starting at USPS, so it'll be a nice little supplement to our income in two years. Even better, I paid into it for thirty years. If we can wait about eight years until I'm 67 to draw my Social Security, the amount will be higher than getting it at 62.

Oh, wait. The system may be broke* by then!! (*As in depleted. It's already broken.)

I'm optimistic enough to hope that Congress will get off its collective butt soon enough to save the system -- not that a Libertarian like me wholly believes in the basic concept, but by gosh, I paid into it for so many years that I want to at least get out what I put in (plus inflation and interest, of course!).

Insert smiley face here . . .  

ARE YOU A CORK?

Meanwhile, we got a good laugh out of yesterday's Pickles cartoon regarding optimism:

If you've been reading this journal long enough, you know which one of us is like a cork!

Sixty. Wow.

Just remember that number when you read about any further adventures we come up with (as well as our slower training and race times). We hope we can continue to inspire other folks to stay fit and try new things (physical or mental) to stretch and grow as they age. Don't forget all the great lessons from "Younger Next Year" in the June 26 entry.

Cheers,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2008 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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