I have been mulling over what my next topic should be for many days now. The funny thing is that I have ended up procrastinating by being indecisive — paralysis by analysis. My goal, which I missed by a bit, is to get at least one post up every week. Topics I have considered: how to choose a coach, keeping a training program diverse, how to measure your progress, importance of family support, how to stay motivated when your race is so far away, and the concept of a milestone birthday. I think all of the topics are worthy of blog posts but typical to my personality, I am going to go with the easiest topic first and move on from there: milestone birthday.
This week I turned 40. It has been surreal, exciting, motivating, a time for reflection, and, at times, no big deal at all. For the better part of the year, when I was 39, I was already considering myself 40. I am not sure why. Maybe I was excited to be 40, maybe I just wanted to get it over, who knows?
The first part of turning 40 is everyone asking how do you feel or what do you think about turning 40? Honestly, I am very happy to be 40. For me, it is some sort of validation that I have done pretty well so far in life. I have been happily married for ten years, I have two lovely daughters with a third on the way, I have an amazing family and some very important and wonderful friends in my life. I feel more grounded and confident at this point in my life than any other point in my life. My youth and early adulthood was filled with worries–worries for the future, worries about the unknown, worries about my past, worries about what decision to make, worries on what will happen in terms of love. You get the idea. The incredible power of the love, in which my wife has showered me, has almost completely erased that pervasive feeling of worry that plagued me for so long. Imagine this: have you ever been in an office, public building, restaurant, or home where there was a very loud a/c running or some sort of white noise that was in the background but not loud enough to be an acute sound and then that sound is removed. Do you remember that feeling of relief you felt once that agitating white noise was gone? That is what I feel in my life now. The love from my marriage has removed all that unwanted white noise from life. I have clarity and a defined direction. Do I know what is to come in the future? No, but I do have the feeling of calm because I know that whatever comes will be great and will work out. Plainly said, I have faith in what is to come.
Wow, I think I digressed quite a bit there.
The title of this post ties into the fact that age 40 I am now officially in the masters category for racing. Does it matter to me? Maybe. Why do I run? I run because I love to run however, I do have a desire to compete and to test my limits in and out of competition. It might be a nice goal to try to win the masters title in a race. It will take a ton of work since many strong ultrarunners are 40+ but I think it is highly important to set lofty goals. Without them, we are limiting our potential.
Another thought I have had regarding turning 40 is that I wish I would have discovered my passion for running at an earlier age–like in my twenties. At age 40, I am aware that biologically I am past my peak muscular development point in my life. I also understand that in order to perform at your absolute maximum in various sports, you need to put many years of dedicated training. Multiple experts claim that it takes around seven years to reach your pinnacle of performance. I have only been a dedicated runner for three years. In terms of ultrarunning, my weekly/monthly training at that level just started in midway through 2014. This means that I still have a long way to go in my development. The part that frustrates me is that I may be in my mid to late forties before I reach full potential. At the same time, I do have concern that time/age is burning the candle at the other end. Had I discovered running at age 25, for example, I would be in my early thirties at the predicted time to reach full potential. Biologically, that would match perfectly. What I finally realized is that it is a waste of time to spend energy thinking about the “only if” or “what if” scenarios. What use is it?! I am not going back in time. I need to focus all my energy on what I can control. I do realize that many of the runners I respect and admire have been running since high school and have 20+ years under their belts. I cannot do anything about that. On the flip side, I have much less wear and tear on my body. Maybe that could work to my advantage. And again, does any of it really matter? It only matters if I make winning or placing in the top 10 the end all be all.
Where am I going with this post? I am not exactly sure but the point I want to make is that I am very happy to be 40. My life experiences, both successes and failures, have taught me many lessons and give me the direction and drive to pursue my passions to the fullest. I relish the opportunity to discover what adventures are to come and I am putting as much energy as I can into who I am as a runner today. That, in and of itself, is as much as I can do to push myself beyond the imaginary boundaries of my capabilities now. I do want to succeed yet success is an artificial construct. It may not necessarily be in winning a race but more so in the path that I am following to find out what my potential truly is. The truth of the matter is that success is only in my mind and if I find peace and fulfillment in my journey, then I have already won. Bring on my forties because I have been waiting for you all my life.