A wise man once sang if you never slow down, you never grow old. Though I am not certain I agree with that sentiment completely, I always found it to be somewhat endearing. Stagnation is death in so many little ways.
Though I stalled in my writing of late, I have not in other areas of my life. I have experienced a plethora of new things, from food to music to cultural events. I attended an awe-inspiring Bruce Springsteen concert last month and I completed my seventh marathon in three years on Sunday, May 4.
As I write this it is Monday, May 5 and I just turned 38.
For my birthday, I dealt with sore quads, saw a movie, ate dinner with my family, and received a gift from my nephew who is 5.
Seeing my nephew, I can’t exactly say I remember what I thought of 38 at 5, but I do know I once held the belief that everything came together by the time you were 20. I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to grow up. If only I knew then that life is a bit more piecemeal and messy, with bits of experience stitched together with parts you are still trying to figure out as you go.
I might do a bit more stitching than others my age. I’m constantly told I have a certain youthfulness to me. People guess my age about 8 to 10 years younger than what it actually is. I usually take it as a compliment. Again, I’d rather be young than set in my ways, so sure of my place and view of the world.
With that said, the one thing I thought might make me feel young, a bit invulnerable and like a superman did not. It actually did the opposite.
The goal I set for myself in January 2011 when I began training for my first Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon finally happened. On Sunday, May 4 2014 at about 10:30 a.m. I slipped across the “Finish Swine” with a race time of 3:58 on the dot and an overall race pace of 9:05. For three years I chased a sub-4 hour marathon.
I imagined myself welling up, maybe a couple of tears, and rejoicing when I finally broke the 4 hour mark, a goal before Sunday I really started thinking would never happen. But I muscled my way through the pain, never to stop running and ending up with a negative split.
I got my medal, skipped the little Mylar cloak, and grabbed a not quite ripe banana. I was annoyed there was no chocolate milk, and then I met my cheering section past the cordoned off finish area for runners. I posted my official race results slip on Facebook, something I later regretted for being too braggy in the moment, and then I had a burger and fries before going home to shower, change clothes, and go out to a birthday dinner later that night.
My day went on. No huge emotions.
I mean, the run was a big deal, but it wasn’t THE BIG DEAL I thought it would be. It was just another mile-marker on the road, a blip really. I am already thinking how I might tweak my next training session to squeeze out a little more speed in the fall. I think my reaction is a sign that I am growing old, or perhaps a bit older. I’m no longer a kid waiting to reach some milestone in order to arrive.
Life just is. It keeps going. It’s given the meaning I give it through the goals I set and what I try to meet. And as long as I don’t stop trying to achieve, I hope that keeps me at least somewhat young at heart. You know, never slow down, never grow old.
Unless, of course, slowing down for a minute gives you time to reflect and learn. Then pausing might be OK.
I hope that makes some sense.