Y Notes

Running through a mid-life crisis

  • Ronda Graff
  • 31-Aug-2018

Recently, a friend shared a post about extreme exercise as the new mid-life crisis. Rather than buying a new sports car, people are turning to exercise and participation in extreme sporting events as they reach middle age.

The article featured 40- and 50-year-olds who had taken up ultra running, usually 50 to 100 mile races, and Ironman triathlons, where you swim, bike and run for 140.1 miles.

They were squeezing in countless hours of training between jobs, family and involvement in the community.

But it’s the “why?” which is different than from mid-life crisis’ of the past when a husband would trade in his wife for a newer model to prove he wasn’t getting old.

Today’s 40 year olds aren’t trying to reclaim their youth.

Instead, they want to know that they can still accomplish something difficult; that you don’t have to be young to complete these extreme events; that they aren’t dead yet and still have a lot to prove.

And at many of these events, the 40 year olds are posting faster times than the 20-year-olds.

How is this possible?

Maybe it is dedication.

Maybe it is more time to train.

Maybe it is a greater tolerance for pain.

Or maybe it is simply because we don’t care what we look like in a swimsuit anymore so we spend less time fussing in front of a mirror and more time in the water.

Faster times by the older crowd also hits close to home.

As part of the Republican River Fitness Series, a collaboration between the YMCA and Community Hospital, the winners are routinely from the 40 and 50-year-old division.

In fact, at Randy’s Run two weeks ago, a 60-year-old won the half-marathon. Yes, I just gave away Ray Chmiel’s age but he was so fast, he deserves the kudos.

As I finished the article, I glanced at my schedule for the month of September and realized it could have been written about me and my friends.

Over the next three weekends, my hubby, friends and I will participate in several long-distance events in three different states.

We will travel to Kansas for a 70-mile gravel grinder, because riding 70 miles on a smooth, paved road just isn’t tough enough.

We will complete (hopefully) a half-Ironman distance triathlon in Colorado.

And then we will participate in a 60-mile bike ride from Omaha to Lincoln, to benefit MS research.

We will actually stay home the final weekend of September for Heritage Days.

(Here is my shameless plug for the Heritage Days Road Race, which is Saturday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 a.m. near Norris Park.)

And it is a reasonable, doable 3.1 miles on the streets and trails of McCook.

Bring the strollers, your dogs, it is just a great way to start off a fun weekend for Heritage Days.

Why are we putting in all this time training and traveling and discovering new aches and pains as we push our bodies to the limit?

It is not because we need more medals and t-shirts or the recognition.

Instead, we enjoy being among friends who understand the pain after you’ve been on a bicycle seat for six hours.

We treasure that push of a tailwind after riding 25 miles into a 20 mph headwind.

And we hope that leading a healthy, active lifestyle now will pay dividends down the road, so we are able to stay active when we are older.

Especially, when we hit that late-mid-life crisis a few decades from now when we take up hang-gliding or bobsledding.