Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Turning 40

Things have been a little crazy around here. The last few weeks have been some of the longest months ever.

On July 8th, Mom was finally transferred up to Mayo. My brother and I had discussed the possibility of hospice and end of life care if Mayo couldn't find or fix whatever was ailing her. But within a few days they had discovered the root of the problem, and fortunately it was reversible. And after briefly getting a little worse, they turned her around and now she is on the rehab unit getting stronger and training to go home!

Lots of people come to Mayo hoping for the "Mayo Miracle". Mom was one of the many lucky ones who got it!

Oh. Also, I turned 40 a few days ago. The "Big 4-oh". I had expected to have a lot more angst or be more disturbed at turning 40. But really... not so much. The birthday itself was excellent. After church the four of us met Mom and Dad over at the rehab courtyard for a Chinese lunch with way too much food. Followed by a yummy spice cake with cream cheese frosting thanks to my lovely and talented wife.

I got two presents, too. A new fiberglass guitar case from my folks to replace the wooden one that got wet and moldy several years ago. I'm VERY excited to be able to travel with my guitar again! And from the Wife and Kiddos I get to pick out a new bike for the triathlons! There is a budget for that of course, as a top end tri-bike could cost what a new car does. But I'm shopping around and learning more about bikes than I ever thought I would need to know.

Brands aside, there are a dozen things to look at. Components like the front and rear derailleurs, brakes, shifters, cassettes, pedals, wheels... it's a little overwhelming. And since I don't want to buy another bike after this one, it has to be a bike that will last, and will not be too much or too little bike for me now and in the future.  It's complicated. Now, if anybody wants to sponsor a middle to back of the pack triathlete and donate towards the new bike, I'd be happy to paint your logo or name on the bike when I get it! :)

With the rest of the day, we relaxed and went for supper at the Olive Garden, where I was going to get the soup and salad to make up for the gigantor lunch, but ended up getting a very good mushroom ravioli with shrimp. So all in all, a very fun day and gifts more generous than I could have imagined.

More than a few people told me that after turning 40, it was all downhill. Maybe it is... Maybe it is. But I know that gravity is a good friend on the downhills during triathlons. And something has sparked some amazing workouts in the past couple of days.

On Monday the 8th, the day after my birthday, I went for my first bike ride as a 40 year old on my hilly course. Imagine my delight when I finished the 15.5 mile ride in 59:25! Keeping a 15.5 mph average on the course that usually holds me to 12 to 13 mph. I hopped off the bike and did a very slow 2 mile jog/walk to stretch my legs a little and start getting some bricks in. Then that evening, Dad and I went for a swim at the lake. I did 600 yards and felt pretty good. Dad loaned me his fins and I did another 200 fast.

I feel like I am outgrowing my big yellow beast of a bike, and that I am actually finally worthy of an upgrade. So choosing a new one will be great!

Then yesterday I was scheduled for a 3 mile run, which I got to in the evening after eating leftovers from the past couple days, including more birthday cake. I thought I'd be regretting the second slice that I had eaten when I started running.  My goal was to run over a mile when I got going. At the one mile mark I felt pretty good and decided to shoot for the mile and a half mark. When I reached that I let out a healthy USMC "OOH-RAH!" and kept on running. Passing the two mile mark I was thinking that if I made it that far, I should be able to reach 2.5. At 2.5 I was motivated to do the whole 3! As I rounded the corner and faced the hill between me and the finish line I had a pang of doubt. I rarely run up this hill, because it's kind of steep. But as I got started on it, I got pumped. I did not just run 2.75 miles to quit on the hill this close to the finish. So I pushed hard and RAN UP THAT HILL!

Crossing the finish was nearly as satisfying as finishing my first triathlon. I have not run a solid 3 miles since my USMC days. And though my time was 36:04, which is great for me right now, it is nowhere near the 21:00 I could do coming out of boot camp. My knees have aged and I don't expect I'll ever get back to the 21:00 time. But I do want to get under 30 minutes sometime, and have a goal of breaking 30 in a triathlon by the end of next season.

14 months ago when I started this triathlon training, I couldn't swim fifty yards without stopping to breathe and rest. Now I'm swimming 500 - 1000 yards straight and at a pace 15-20 seconds faster per 100 than my race time from HGT 2010. Last year my first bike ride was less than 5 miles in 45 minutes and ended with me nearly passed out on my front deck. Now I'm holding 15.5 mph on a pretty hilly course, faster by a couple mph than race day last year. Last year I couldn't run from one telephone pole to the next without feeling like my heart would burst and my lungs seize up. Now I can do a 36:04 5K without stopping to walk, and fully expect to improve on it.  Now I just need to bring them all together for the Hickory Grove Tri.

Turning 40 really wasn't too bad. My health is improving. I have both parents still around, and it was questionable at times this year whether either would be alive on my birthday. I have a wonderful, beautiful, kind, caring and thoughtful Wife that loves me and supports me. I have VERY energetic and strong willed children, which can be challenging, but is also wonderful to see them developing into such delightful human beings. And hearing "Daddy... I love you very much." just never gets old. I have good friends who love and support me, too. I am a lucky, lucky man.

I may be getting older, but I'm also getting better.

More Later

1 comment:

Matt Russell said...

John, I am so proud of you and your accomplishment. As we reach our "Middle Ages" I look for them to be our "Renaissance." Glad we are still great friends after over 25 years. Keep up the awesome life!!