Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Aging & Competitiveness

I'm getting old ... fast. I have one grandchild and another on the way.  I eat pretty much the same thing every day, at the same time, and hit the sack around 8:30 every night.  Heck, in 5 years I'll be eligible for AARP.   Freaking AARP!!!  Plus, I'm grumpy.  I somewhat despise that little drug-snorting, middle-finger wielding, no-talent KE-dollarsign-HA.  Her "f-society because I'm young" song lyrics piss me off.  I wish North Korea would keep Dennis Rodman.  I realize there are inherent problems with Capitalism, but refuse to believe that the current road of Socialism this country is headed down is healthy.  And overall, I'm way more old-fashioned than forward thinking.  But for some reason, regardless of how quickly I age, how much my bones ache in the morning, or how narrow-minded and wrong I can be about certain things, I'm still very ... very ... very ... competitive!

I've always been up for a good challenge.  Undoubtedly I've never been the best at many things, but I've always worked my fingers to the bone trying to squeeze the most out of myself.  And for some reason, THAT part of me is not dying easily.  It's a little confusing at times.  I thought as we got older we weren't supposed to care as much.  Ya know, learn how to relax, just let it roll of your back ... that kind of boring crap.  But one thing I am definitely not good at is relaxation.  Heck, Michael is going on a beach vacation next month, and I actually talked her into taking a girlfriend along instead of me ... because I HATE RELAXING ON THE BEACH!!!  Yeah, for some reason, the raging competition gene in me is stronger than ever.

Yes, yes, I know ... competition is bad.  It gives losers frowny faces, and winners undeserved rewards because they cheated or had an unfair advantage.  Blah, blah, blah.  We get it MSNBC, we're all supposed to melt into one dull gray cookie cutter lifeless shape of equal wealth, and drive the same Prius to our $18.50/hr job at McDonald's. (Newsflash ... when minimum wage goes up 300%, so does everyone else's salary ... oh, and the cost of everything else does too.  All THAT does is move the bar, not create income equality. "Make that money, watch it burn" ... but I digress)  However when I say competition, I'm not talking about competition against one another ... I only referring to my competition with me.  And only me.

I fell in love with running for many reasons.  Sure, there are the obvious health benefits.  I've never felt better.  But it's much more than that.  Running is my masterpiece that's never quite complete.  An endless, and at times reckless pursuit of an unattainable goal.  And the perfect metaphor for everything else in my life.  It continually gives me something to chase.  Figuratively.  Although it dances around and it's difficult to hit ... it establishes a target.  A measuring stick.  For example, I can review running data from last year and be prodded into picking up the pace of my current footsteps.   It's the motivation to pull my head off the pillow way before the sun, knowing that very few are doing the same.  And it makes me believe ... at 45 years old ... that my best running days are still ahead of me.  It's a relentless trail of doing it more efficiency, one more mile, convincing myself to sprint to the end, and always, always faster than last time.  Just a little faster.

As I break ground on 2014 (although it's been a rather inauspicious beginning so far) I really believe I'll compete for a sub 3 hour marathon this year.  I also wanna take a run at my 5K time.  AND ... trying to smash my half-marathon best.  I know I've learned a lot about training over the past few years, and am eager to put all of those lessons into practice for the best running version of me ever.  And even though the calendar pages seem to turn faster and faster every 365 days ... and I'm reaching the part of life where everyone is saying, "Slow down old man, smell the roses, and take it easy!" ... I'm full speed ahead!  I won't ever ride off into the sunset and rest on my laurels.  This old dude will compete.  I'll give 100%.  And I'll hopefully always get the most out of my ability regardless of my age ... unless I break a hip or something.   Now get off my lawn!
... be great today!


  1. Great post!!! And if you are old I am older... so ah, no...

    What struck a chord with me the most was:

    "Running is my masterpiece that's never quite complete. An endless, and at times reckless pursuit of an unattainable goal."

    You hit the nail on the head. Enjoy every step of that pursuit till you can no more. A better way to while away your days than as a big grey lump!

    Best wishes for 2014! Look forward to hearing how you smash your goals!

  2. Well said. As one of those old bastids, who still wants to compete and trains hard to do so I agree with what you said. I am slowing down and the aches/pains affect me more, but I refuse to enter the world of Harrison Bergeron and if you young guys want to beat me, you will have to work to do it. As you can tell I am a bit older than you are ;-)

    Keep fighting the good fight, it is better to enter the arena, do what you must, leave your sweat and blood on the arena floor than standing on the sideline looking bored and clapping uenthusiastically saying I could do that too.

  3. I've been "old" since I was a kid (I used to balance my parents' checkbook for fun when I was ten, did all the menus/groceries/coupons by eleven, read the paper with my coffee by 13, got hooked on NPR at 16, starting loathing teenagers at 18.... you get the picture). It's a fun way to live. I cringe at rap music, obviously cough and cover my nose at smokers, and otherwise make myself an old curmudgeon.
    But anywho. Running is the best old person's sport, because of age graded equivalents. Many a 55 year old woman or white haired guy have age-graded beat the crap out of me in races!

  4. "old" people who beat me, inspire me to work harder and keep pushing, of course so do younger people who beat me. I love the competitiveness running brings out in me.

  5. your post brings to mind my old buddy DT

    "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

    Dylan Thomas

  6. Hey - you're not old, because that would make me old too!
    When I enter races I am always amazed at how many runners are much older than me, which is wonderful to see and is great encouragement to keep going!

  7. haha you seem like one of the most competitive people I've ever met. Seems like you will keep chasing it forever, and that is fine. That is your thing. As long as you enjoy it.

    I did like this line "Running is my masterpiece that's never quite complete."

  8. Ha Nelly, I'm really not as bad as I sound ... I'm not like cut throat in board games or anything, I just expect the most out of myself!

  9. Here's what I like about competition (and I'm not particularly competitive, except with myself): competing against other people (or I guess just training with them) shows you what's possible and helps you to measure where you are.

  10. Just a small point - you're not old until you start to talk about your bowel habits. I talk and write about them therefore I am old. Being a grandparent doesn't make you old, it's just proof of your virility and fertility.


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