just a number.

"Age is just a number," they say.

Funny thing about they...for all of the bravado, they don't seem to do a lot of signing their names to the swaggering proclamations.  And with good reason, since many of those mouthing-offs don't hold water.

While I don't find the passage of time to be a source of dread, I can say, unequivocally, that age is far more than just a number.

If it wasn't, I'd be toeing the line at 5K races expecting to flirt with 18 minute finishes like I did at 24.  Those days are long, long gone.  Of course, so is the free time that I had in my early twenties.  Free time that would've come in handy had I taken an interest then in the long-distance running I love so much now.

Which brings me to something that is, in fact, just a number.

It's sitting right there in the lower right hand corner of the photo.  One thousand and two (point 1, since we're keeping count) is the reading on my 2011 running odometer as of the end of my middle of the night run run last evening (or this morning if you really want to get technical).

Engaged in a hobby in which some individuals crank out 50 or 100 miles in a single day (or at least at a single time over a span of more than 24 hours), taking 10 months to cover 1000 miles is easy.  I, however (and I realize that my non-running friends and family aren't going to buy this for a second), am not a very high-mileage ultra-runner.  I would like to be and hope over the coming years to increase my regular mileage, but not so much so that the rest of life requires an overhaul.

I've got 3 lovely reasons who share my home and my life to make me unwilling and uninterested in devoting much more time away from them, especially when my running life is already blissful with the time I am able to give it.  For now, I'll stick with my 20-40 miles per week that more resembles 10K training than a 50-mile race regimen and live with results on race days.

And, let's face it, 1000 miles is a fair few miles.  Leaving my front door and heading west, I'd be within 100 miles of New Orleans by now and could expect to knock on my friend Megan's door sometime late this month or early December (and promptly take her for a run).  If I'd have headed northeast instead, I could have visited Bar Harbor in early summer and have just 30 miles left on my return trip.  Had I made a beeline for San Francisco, I'd be pulling out of Kansas City and looking at being halfway across the country by the end of the year.

All that is nonsense, of course, as 1002 really is just a number.  I've got friends and acquaintances who probably waved goodbye to that same number as early as April or May and didn't see any reason to blather about it the way I am now.  Curiosity got the better of me this year, though, and so I'm looking more closely at the numbers than I have before.  I'm not really gleaning anything particularly useful from the running log that I decided to keep for the entire year, but I am finding it intriguing.  I may (or may not) have run 1000 miles in a year a time or too before but I never had the documentation to confirm it.

I went in to last weekend knowing that I was getting close to quadruple figures and when I let Monday and Tuesday slip away without getting in any miles it started to prey on my conscience.  Lindsay was scheduled to work on Wednesday evening until 11:30 and it looked like I was again going to spend the day on the sidelines.

When she got home early and needed to transition right into studying, I saw my opportunity.  On went the shoes, the windshirt, a hat and my headlamp and off I went.  Roughly an hour-and-a-half and just under 10 miles later, I had reached the silly number referenced in the earlier photo. 

It was during that run that I began pondering age.  Not sure why, but it happened.  I'm not going to say "I LOVE being 37", but I'm far more content as 40 approaches than I would've predicted as that speedier 24 year old.

Last I checked, the average American male can expect to draw breath for about 75 years, landing me squarely at mid-life crisis age.

But it hasn't happened and I'm fairly hopeful it isn't going to happen.

If anything I feel like the member of a football team that suffered through a rough first half only to emerge from the locker room re energized by a fiery halftime speech and the recognition that his team is still very much in the game.  The blessed existence of my wife, the life-affirming arrival of my children and, yes, the physical joy of running combined to deliver that speech and I'm thinking this second half could be a far more positive than the first.

Who knows, maybe grandkids'll sub in late and I'll end up sticking around for overtime to watch them unleash vengeful (but harmless) mayhem in my name on my mischievous children.

1 comment:

  1. You've done a lot of great running this year for having put up so few miles. Maybe there's something to that...now I'm thinking...