July 17, 2008

Staving off Old Age- The Ironman

I am not afraid of getting older. I am afraid of what could happen when I get older. Let's face it, growing older is a good thing, it means that I am not dead. And while I am not afraid of dying, I am most certainly not ready for it yet.

No, what worries me is what happens when my body no longer is willing to respond the way I want and expect it to. Even as I type this there are little signs of this taking place. I have a kink in my neck and an ache in my back that don't want to go away. My legs feel a bit heavy and overall I feel kind of stiff.

These little nagging pains beg the question of how and why they came about. The simple answer is that they are a result of the exercising I have been doing during the past week. And that brings me to the concern about aging. This never used to happen. I haven't done anything that I consider to be particularly strenuous, yet here they are.

Listen closely and you can hear little creaks, cracks and whistle emanating from joints, my joints that is. The knees, the elbows and the shoulders all have their own sounds. Just what I always wanted an orchestra of aches and pains.

Unless science comes up with a real fountain of youth I have to accept the fact that aging will take its toll upon me and that some things will grow more challenging. But I don't have to give in and I can try to do it on my terms which is why I want to compete in the Ironman.

If you are not familiar with it, here is a short explanation courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Ironman World Triathlon Championship or Ironman Triathlon is an annual triathlon race, made famous by its grueling length, race conditions, and sports television coverage.

Held every fall in the US city of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, the race encompasses three endurance events; a 2.4 mile (3.8 km) ocean swim in Kailua-Kona Bay, a 112 mile (180 km) bike ride across the Hawaiian lava desert to Hawi and back, and a marathon (26.2 mile, 42 km) along the coast of the Big Island (from Keauhou to Keahole Point to Kailua-Kona); finishing on Ali'i Drive.

The current course record was set in 1996 by Luc Van Lierde (Belgium) whose winning time was 8 hrs 4 mins 8 sec.

My goal is simple, first to qualify for the big race and then to complete it. Some of you may remember Julie Moss, the college student who almost won the Ironman in 1982. At the end of the race exhaustion set in and she literally had to crawl across the finish line. I remember seeing the clip of her finish and being amazed by her determination.

So you might wonder when I hope to do the Ironman and whether I intend to win. The answers are simple. The goal is to simply be able to say that I completed an Ironman. As for when, well I have given myself the next 11 years to get into shape, qualify, compete and finish.

Now that might sound silly, but to me there is something poetic about doing it the year that I turn 50. I like the symbolism. I like the idea of using The Ironman as a way to say that I may have aged, but I am not old yet.


Rivster said...

Good for you!!! During a premature middle age crisis (like 3 years ago!), I decided to train for a marathon. Only trouble was...I wasn't a runner. Never being one to listen to reason, I took up running, completed the Nike Women's Marathon on San Francisco the same day that I started it (!), and promptly decided that I HATED running.

But I've got a sweet medal to prove that I finished...and it was totally worth every painful step!

Go, Jack, Go!

Jack said...

I took up running, completed the Nike Women's Marathon on San Francisco the same day that I started it (!), and promptly decided that I HATED running.

I am with you. Jogging bores the hell out of me. Outside of a number of team sports I am not all that interested in running at all.

But I intend to make an exception for this.