MY 52 YEAR JOURNEY TO EMBRACING MEDIOCRITY, BECOMING AN ATHLETE AND COMPLETING AN IRONMAN
Until recently, I never considered myself an athlete. Although always active, I have never been talented at any sport, I have never won a race or even came close. I have always been mediocre – at almost everything actually. Which is really hard when you have also been a perfectionist. The result, for most of my life, was not to challenge myself or step out of my comfort zone much at all. Never doing things I couldn’t be the best at meant that I hadn’t achieved a lot in this half century of life.
However, one of the greatest benefits of ageing for me has been the fact that I have come to terms with my own mortality.
My dad died of a sudden heart attack aged 47. No apparent symptoms, no warnings, no family history – he just died. His life on this earth over. As I approached that age myself, I spent much time contemplating whether I would be content with my life if it too was soon to end. Well, there wasn’t a lot to be content with if I have to be honest. Of course, I had birthed 2 of the most amazing humans I know but other than that, there was a lot of should haves, could haves, would haves but not much actually done.
Somehow (gratefully) this realization allowed me to find my way out of the perfectionist attitude that had adversely plagued my entire life up until then.
First, was the marathon I had dreamt of running since I was 15 but never thought I was capable of. I am by no means a natural endurance athlete. And, training for the marathon was one of the hardest challenges I have ever undertaken. As the event neared and the long training runs increased up to 25-35km, I would literally whimper and shuffle my way home hours after my family expected to see me. It was not pretty.
During the process, I also discovered that I had developed and osteoarthritic big toe joint which means that I cannot drive off my left foot properly. This caused all sorts of compensatory issues and my body struggled to maintain alignment. There was often a lot of pain involved.
On top of that, I was ultra-slow. By the time the event came around, my training times seemed to indicate that I may not even make the cut off points where you can no longer run on the actual road or finish inside the stadium.
Did any of that stop me? Amazingly, no, not this time.
The marathon day came. With no real idea how I would go, I got out there and tried. Making the cut off times was my only goal. I achieved that and more!
Completing the marathon over an hour faster than I had calculated was an amazing feeling. My family hadn’t even arrived at the finish line yet! The finish time – a decent 4hrs 6mins. Not fast but not the ultra-slow I had expected – even fairly mediocre. But for me, it was incredible!
Running the last 1km was (and still is) one of the emotional moments of my life (up there with birthing a child). I was crying and beaming at the exact same time. To think that it had taken me 32 years to find the courage to attempt a marathon and I was finally running into the MCG to cross the finish line was quite a surreal experience and one I will be forever grateful for.
This day proved to be a turning point to where my 50s have now become the best part of my life so far.
To be continued…