On Becoming a “Certain Age” by Paul Goodrow

On Becoming a “Certain Age”

Nothing is more disconcerting to an athlete than the sudden realization that we’ve reached a “Certain Age”. And it’s not gradual. One day it’s all about going faster and faster, the continual quest for personal bests. And then it’s not. It’s OMG! OMG! I‘ve become one of them.

For years we ignored it and frankly, it just didn’t interest us. When older friends of a Certain Age talked about it, we were like “Whatever…”

And we never like to admit we’ve reached a Certain Age. Certainly not to our fellow athletes. But once we’re there, we know it. Oh do we know it!

But we still like to think we can hang with everyone. And for a while we can. We just pay a bigger price. Recovery is now spelled “r-e-c-o-v-e-r-r-r-y”. We research all the science behind rest and how muscles recover. But why does it have to take so long? We know all the benefits. But it still pisses us off!

Apparently “muscle memory” is just like regular memory. We have to “jog it”. So we don’t fret when the first open water swim of the season feels like the first open water swim ever! We just go about our business and eventually it all kicks back in.

Sometimes a nerve just stops firing. Just stops. For no good reason. Other than it wants to retire and drink pina coladas by the pool. And the muscle it used to talk to? It stops working too. And we wonder why we have a certain pain. Once our team of therapists figures out the problem, we do exercises to get the scumbags back to work. And they fight us…every. step. of. the. way.

Gradually we readjust our goals. Before, we sort of tolerated injury and we healed fast enough. Now it’s a process in and of itself… with it’s own set of goals and ambitions. Getting to the start line relatively injury free is more satisfying than ever.

But even after we’ve reached that Certain Age, on occasion, we get to do a couple of things we’ve always liked to do. And they give us real joy, more so in their rarity. So when we’ve been good, and we’re feeling young and frisky, and all the conditions are right, the stars and planets are all aligned, for a few precious minutes….we get to run really fast!! As for the other thing… pretty much “ditto”.

And after a Certain Age, we develop new heroes. Like the 83 year old who was doing laps beside me when I was re-learning how to swim and going anaerobic in less than one lap. And wanting to quit. But she kicked my ego’s ass.

Or my mother’s friend who, in her eighties, still took to the streets on her rollerblades. And all the others who, even after that Certain Age, are still kicking and rocking it, pushing boundaries, refusing to go gently, and just doing it.

We remind ourselves “it’s all good”. Because it really is!!

Race Report Italy 70.3 Pescara by Paul Allingham

Hey gang,

This was quite an experience in both a good and bad way.
Forecast for race day was rain and thunderstorms – didn’t materialize.  But the race start was scheduled for noon with a self seeding walk-in start for the swim.  Just as the pros entered the water followed by about 200 of the 1300 age groupers a gale started to blow which really whipped up the water and blew over the swim finish “arches”.  And one of the early starters did the swim out to the breakwall of rocks that we were to swim through and was swept into the rock getting a head and leg abrasion.  So they stopped the swim with about 1100 of us lined up on the beach and a few in the water, many of whom completed the swim including all the pros.
They decided to give everyone a time of 1 hour for the swim and Transition 1 and restarted the race in a sort of time trial start 5 at a time every 5 seconds from the bike start.   But you could take your time in transition from wet suit to bike gear and get in the line whenever you wanted.  I was OK with this as I’d experienced somewhat the same thing at the Steelhead 70.3 a few years ago.  Que sera sera – Italian???  I’m trying but Joanne speaks fluent Italian and I just smile and eat – and maybe a little vino.
So I headed out on the bike and by then the gale had diminished significantly.  The bike course was harder than I expected with about 45K of hills west of Pescara and what I interpreted from the elevation chart as 5-7% grades with 3 rises of 4-5K turned out to be relatively continuous climbs and descents with some grades reaching 12-14% for parts of the climbs.  But I finished OK despite my limited training and indulging in the Italian and Sicilian food and lifestyle.
It rained lightly for the last 30 minutes of the bike and during most of the run but was not windy and it kept things a bit cooler still mid 20’sC.  My past GI problems started about 14K into the run and I walked most of the last 7K.  As a result while I finished 15 minutes ahead of my chief competitor, a wonderful 74 year old Japanese gentleman who we spent some time with, he started 20 minutes after me on the bike and beat my time by 5 minutes.  That’s probably at least what I lost in the last 7K as we passed each other 5-6 timers on the 3 loop course and I tracked the difference in our time and distance and I was 24 minutes ahead of him at one point – I just didn’t know when he had started.
But I can’t complain about a 2cd place especially when I got to know this guy.  He was a “pro” and said he had completed 29 Ironman races so he deserved it.  But he was the only guy in the race older than me.
We are now spending a few days 100K up the Adriatic Coast at Joanne’s parents birthplace, Porto San Giorgio, and visiting several cousins and their families.  Home Friday and then to Tremblant for the 70.3 on the 26th.
Attached a few photos that are good photos taken by Joanne but do show the GI distress on my face.
Ciao, Paolo