A Full Summer of Athletic Life
Two years ago, when I turned 60, I had BIG plans for my little blog. My goal? To note how Ironman training (for Madison Wi) must be modified with age as compared to previous, younger years. So many adaptations with training in one’s 60’s, such as recovery time, speed, length of taper and joint concerns. Even my personal drive comes into question…am I a little bit lazy now or do I really need more couch time?
Then of course, I had the bike accident on my 60th birthday which postponed my Ironman until the following year. Then there was Covid. NOW, at 62 years of age, Ironman Wisconsin is less than a week away. Naraly a paragraph from me regarding training at an aging age!
There is no escaping age issues however, even if I did not detail them. Probably too busy with knee challenges to write as I head to Madison IM with roughly 15 miles a week run time under my belt. So there is my first excuse. My (athletic) summer started with a sore good knee (as compared to my bad knee with screws), hurting to the point that I invested in an MRI. After a radial meniscus tear was discovered, I limped thru a few runs, focused on mtn biking for Leadville (another whole story) and searched for an orthopedic surgeon to provide guidance.
I surprisingly discovered I was too old for a recommended and well-respected ortho surgeon to even LOOK at my knee. Says the scheduling person, “Oh honey, that’s why the computer won’t let me enter you into his schedule, he doesn’t look at knees on anyone over 61!”
Recommendation # 2 however, sent me a wonderful surgeon who viewed my MRI, visited the store during the weekend I worked and said, “We can fix you! But no Ironman warranty!” (Call me if you want his name!) AFTER Madison, I head for what I hope is simple orthoscopic surgery. Meanwhile, I did sneak in a trip to do the Leadville 100 mtn bike race with my girlfriends who signed me up for this amazingly difficult event and told me, we would never get in. Since we did get in, I now have the experience to say, at my age and with a full-time job, don’t do it as second fiddle to an IM. Leadville is a hungry monster of a race and demands a summer of specialized off-road training. None of our spinning to and from tame, local area singletrack parks really cut it. My theory of completing the 104 mile Leadville Mtn bike race is that the participant needs a minimum of 2 or 3 of the following five criteria: youth / downhill skill set (REALLY good downhill technique) / acclimatization to the altitude / direct course knowledge or experience and / or top notch fitness.
Since I had only one of those requirements and Ironman fitness alone did not pave the way towards a Leadville belt buckle, we missed the first 40 mile cut off by three seconds. Just a couple of seconds separated all three of us (yes, we rode together, another not so wise decision) from attempting the most difficult mountain climb on the course, Columbine. After we overcame the shock and disappointment of the first bikers told to turn around – we collected ourselves and turned back on the bike. Unfortunately, we all assisted in helping out a terrible Leadville bike/car accident (this event can lead to injury!) and because I had the IRONMAN to train for, I picked my way back up the Powerline rocks to log a total 80 mile Leadville effort. As my sticker says in my office, “Oh, no – not another learning experience!”
My dad passed away while I was in Colorado and his leaving this world added to my odd and emotional summer of completing post-poned events, supporting the hard-working Gear West staff navigate the strange new world of production shortages + shipping delays and increased my appreciation of life.
Anyway, that leads me to now! Yesterday, a long time customer found me unpacking boxes in the back of the store and kindly thanked me for writing my blogs. I was really surprised and touched since I don’t even know who reads them. His appreciation spurred this quick update about my summer and my Ironman training-while-aging notes. To summarize, age increases mental gratitude for the ability (and freedom!) to do things, but those extra years usher in measurable physical challenges.
My son Connor, who is in the military sent me a text which adjusted my concerned -how long will it take me to finish this race- attitude. “If you hit a hard point just think of the 18 service members who have died these past two weeks and just give a little more for each of them just because you can. That’s what I have been doing”
So that is what I will do as well.