If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I thought I would be doing when I turned 50, in all fairness I probably would have never even guessed that I would spending that day running on a dirt path, climbing over obstacles, wading through water, climbing up muddy embankments all in the name of fun in the 2011 DFW Jailbreak Run.
I have never been one to hide my age or shun a birthday. In fact I considered each birthday as a blessing, especially since my birthday shares one of the darkest days in American history—September 11th. I, like many of you, can remember almost every detail of that eventful day. I know exactly where I was, what I was doing and the paralyzing fear of the unknown. There was no celebration, in fact there were more tears than laughs, but that doesn't mean my biological clocked stopped ticking. That year I celebrated my 40th birthday and for the next three years I struggled to find my way to reclaim not only my health, but my life. Something that I had been struggling to do for many, many years.
I spent most of my 30's and early 40's suffering from everything from migraines to acid reflex to the general aches and pains in my feet, knees and hips. Being 80 pounds heavier than I am today, I grew to accept these ailments as a part of my daily living. That is what happens when one grows older.
It wasn't until my doctor looked me square in the eyes in January 2005 and told me that in my current state of health I was well on the path to developing heart disease and diabetes. Even hearing these harsh but truthful words it still took me several weeks to decide on a plan to live the best life I could. But one thing was for certain, I was not going on yet another diet. I was done with dieting! I was going to change my way of living. That day was February 9, 2005--a day I consider as my anniversary to embracing living, not just merely surviving.
It took me a good year to lose enough weight and gain enough fitness to move from walking to running. In March 2006 I started running and let me tell you, my life has never been the same. Five and a half years later I have run in over 100 races ranging in distance from 1 mile to a marathon. I have run with other SparkPeople members in races from New Orleans to Seattle, to San Diego to Pittsburgh. I was also honored to run not once, but twice in one of the most prestigious of all relays, The Hood to Coast Relay —a 200 mile relay from Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon. Therefore I had to do something memorable for my 50th birthday. What better way then to don a prisoner costume and run 3 miles with my dear friends as we maneuvered over obstacles, including cars, cargo nets, wood walls, creeks and more mud than anyone could imagine.
That day I experienced life as it is meant to be lived. It wasn't about a size on the tag or a number on the scale. The day was filled with joy and laughter. It was about enjoying time with good friends and celebrating another year of living. And while I may still have to take a daily pill for my high blood pressure, I have never felt better. I feel so much younger at 50 than I ever did at 40. I no longer obsess with the size I wear or the small little flaws that seemed so huge just a few short years earlier. I have learned to embrace me as I am today, after all we only get one shot at this journey so why focus on the negatives.
So here's to the next 100 races and 50 years that lay ahead. May we all learn to embrace our new age and the notion that living is so much more eventful than just merely surviving. And as Chris Downie so frequently reminds us all, 'we are to live life as an adventure.'
Have you found yourself doing things you never dared to think you would be doing before you started your journey? Do you find yourself more confident the healthier you become? Do you find yourself 'living life as an adventure' more and more every day?
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