The Antarctic Odyssey was the start of my journey into adventure racing and blogging. I wrote a series of post that charted my adventure from start to completion of my Antarctic Odyssey. This post is part of the series.
I am 50 today.
It does not feel that different really: I did not wake up to find that my boobs needed tucked into my pants; nor has my backside suddenly hit the floor. So that is a relief. There is a quite a lot of grey hair cunningly disguised by my hairdressers artistry with colour, but then, there has been for a good few year now. About 18 months ago I did have to resort to varifocals, but my optician informed me that I had fought the good fight and lasted well.
According to my youngest daughter, who has it on good authority from her friends, I will have a bit of a mid-life crisis, I will go through a bit of a ‘funny patch’. So, running a silly number of miles in Antarctica isn’t a midlife crisis? Apparently not, I am still going to ‘go a bit funny’. When pressed she was not able to define or quantify the ‘funny’. We shall wait and see how that one goes.
I am not Dorian Grey and there are signs of the aging process. My skin tone is beginning to go and I have succumbed to the power of advertising and use ‘age appropriate’ creams/serum. Oddly I find that it is most noticeable on my legs and over my knees. However, I would not and will not do anything beyond moisturising. I do not understand the fixation with youth and perfection. Physically, I have never been anywhere close to perfect, so why worry now? Some of the most beautiful women I see are those who are going with the flow and aging with dignity and no intervention. Beauty is not all about the physical. But then I think that there is beauty in the laughter lines, wrinkles and grey/white hair. It shows that life has been experienced and lived.
Looking at this from a sporting perspective there are changes too. I am slower. I was pretty slow to begin with, and so getting even slower has had an element of frustration attached to it: not to mention the dangers of moss growing as I move sloth like around a course. In one sense the degradation has perhaps been less noticeable as I came to running pretty late in life, in my mid-late 30′s. It takes longer to recover now too, but on the positive side that means more rest days and recovery food. Niggles and injuries take a bit longer too. Stamina and strength though have improved. So, I last longer and go further which are pretty good things for a long distance runner, as is slow. Slow is especially good as far as the Antarctic Challenge is concerned.
I have been lucky and am immensely grateful that so far I have never experienced serious illness, poor health or even a broken bone. Friends and family have not been so lucky; cancers, heart conditions, mental health issues, accidents. I thank whoever or whatever on an almost daily basis for my health and strength, and try in whatever way I can to help my friends and family.
I know that it is partly genetics, but also partly life style. Sometimes people express concern about the the perceived potential for damage that I am doing to my body. Yes, I have an arthritic toe joint that probably will demand a reduction in mileage sometime in the next few years, but look at the benefits: strong bones and reduced chance of osteoporosis; a healthy resting heart rate of around 50; plenty of fresh air, sunshine and vitamin D; good overall fitness; strong joints and toned muscle tissue; Ok weight; good mental health.
So, I will keep on running and keep eating the salad.
And as for going ‘a bit funny’, well lets just see how that goes. If running in the Antarctic, a new hair style and a bit of a wardrobe refresh are all that is involved, then I embrace the ‘funny’ and the mid-life crisis.