The body is an amazing thing. At least mine is, and yours probably is too, if you pay attention. So I turned 50 about six months ago. I know there is a lot of talk that “50 is the new 40,” but it is still considered old for women. It’s the time, plus or minus a few years, where we become invisible. I don’t just mean invisible to potential male partners because we are past our reproductive years, but invisible to society in general — to store clerks, restaurant servers, doctors, people on the street. Many try to delay this with hair color, skin treatments, or even plastic surgery, but the delay is temporary and fleeting.
Thus, my attitude about turning 50 was not very positive, even though MY life at 50 is dang good. I am retired, in good health, and have a fabulous husband who doesn’t think of me as “old.” Yet, my attitude about 50 was pretty grim. I felt my metabolism changing despite a pretty healthy mostly vegetarian diet and regular walking, Zumba, yoga and some cycling, swimming and weightlifting. All of this wasn’t enough to keep a few unwanted pounds from creeping up and stubbornly clinging to my abdomen. And while peri-menopause hasn’t been a huge deal, the hormone swings are not exactly fun.
Then I saw a Facebook post by a former colleague. She ditched the full-time career even earlier than me (she’s five years younger) and is now pursuing education for a new focus. She also works part time at a running store and is a serious long-time runner. I’ve always admired runners and am married to one. I’ve never been able to run, with lungs that are (according to the pulmonologist) “small and scarred up” from childhood illnesses. So when my friend posted about a “beginners running group,” I immediately felt I couldn’t do it, yet the big 5-0 was telling me I needed to step up my game if I didn’t want to be a older fat lady who gets more and more debilitated each decade. I asked her “how beginner is ‘beginner’?” and then I showed up.
I ran a few minutes, then walked, then ran, then walked. I couldn’t get my breath. My legs hurt. In the car on the way home, I felt hot and weak. I doubted I could do it, especially the next day when my legs hurt with every movement. But I got out and did it again. And I went back to the group, and it got a little easier. After two weeks, I could run six minutes before I stopped. My legs were sore, but not too badly sore. I looked forward to the next time I could run, not because it was exactly enjoyable, but because I wanted to see how I could do.
Right now, I am discouraged, slowed down with a cold and cough. But I know I am going to keep at it, and today I ran a mile without stopping. Will I ever be “a runner?” I dont know, but I know I am going to keep going out there and trying. I am amazed at my body’s response, so willing and quick even at 50, and I am going to give her every chance I can to keep amazing me.