Numerical Foreboding -- 12/29/02

The Friday Five returned from its hiatus but I didn't do a Friday entry... I thought about it, but couldn't get my thoughts clear, especially regarding the New Years resolution element. I don't tend to make formal New Years Resolutions, but the thoughts that I do have that might pass for being such are mostly along the lines of working out more regularly, especially in regards to running, and various related topics such as losing weight, etc.

Anyone who has read my entries here for any significant stretch of time will note a certain amount of deja vu. Yes, I will admit to a certain recurring theme regarding getting in shape and losing weight. The losing weight is not a diet thing; it's more of a desire to lose weight by burning more calories, to drop fat and build muscle, build aerobic capacity, etc. In other words, to actually stick with an exercise program for more than a few weeks or months.

I tend to do well for a period of time and then something will happen -- a bad cold, an injury, a busy period at work, maybe a spurt of business travel -- something will break the pattern and then I seem to lose focus -- maybe I skip a week and then it seems that since I missed seven days, one more off day won't matter, and enough of that and it becomes difficult to get back into the pattern and instead of five or six workouts a week I end up with just a couple of half-hearted ones and then... *sigh* and then I whine here about putting on weight and being out of shape and eventually I start working out again and everything is fine for a few weeks and then...

Okay, so what's different now?

I'm scared.

You see, it has hit me in the past couple of weeks that there is something significant about the coming year, a numerical significance, something of chronological import.

On April 29, 2003 I am going to be sixty years old.

That's old.

I mean, it's getting a bit more difficult to make wisecracks about being on the verge of entering the preliminary stages of early middle age.

Turning forty was no big deal... I was almost four years into a new marriage... I had a baby girl who was about to celebrate her first birthday... Nancy and I had just put the finishing touches on our master's thesis. Adam had gotten me into running and I had found that I was enjoying athletic competition. I thought of myself as being young.

Turning fifty was a bit awesome -- I mean half a century has a certain ring to it, you know what I mean? -- but it was almost more amusing than distressing. Nancy threw a wonderful surprise party for me and I had a great time getting gag gifts of senior vitamins and t-shirts that read "It took me 50 years to look this good" and "Born in the USA -- A Long, Long Time Ago," etc. My eldest had graduated from college (which, I suppose, was a sign that I was no longer in the full bloom of youth), but my daughter was in fifth grade and my youngest was in second grade, I was pretty good (at least spring through fall each year) at getting in a reasonable amount of running, competed in a 15k and a 20k most years, had even run a half-marathon a couple of years earlier. I didn't feel old, certainly didn't think that I felt like 50 (whatever that's supposed to feel like; I mean I knew I wasn't a teenager any more, but most of us discover sometime in our mid to late twenties that we're not teenagers anymore, make suitable adjustments, and move on.)

I can read calendars. I know that I hit a new age decade each time the year ends in a three. But lately it has really begun to sink in that I'm actually going to be sixty... which means I'm no longer going to be in my fifties, I will be in my sixties. Suddenly I can see the label "senior citizen" being put on me. [Note to Doug: yes, I know, you and Heather were married the year I was born... but that doesn't take any years off my age.]

So I am approaching this new year with a certain amount of trepidation. And thus there is a bit of a fear factor involved in my usual self-lectures about needing to get into better shape. As time goes on it gets more difficult to get back to previous levels of fitness... and I find various parts are wearing out... a piece of a tooth broke off Christmas Eve... the plantar fascitis that plagued my right heel during the spring and summer has cleared up, but now I have it in my left heel (I got a cortisone shot a couple of days ago which helped, but I ran three and a half miles today and I'm limping a bit as a result)... so this time my desire to get back into shape is being driven by the fear that if I don't get myself into much better shape, I may be rapidly approaching the point where I won't be able to. Yes, I realize that I am not exactly a couch potato. I may not be an elite athlete but I did run in a five mile race on Thanksgiving and I'm in better shape than the average guy my age... of course my pace in that race was more like jogging than running and the average guy my age probably is a couch potato, so being above that average isn't very much.

Thus, my resolve, to be serious about getting into better shape -- and staying that way.

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