While most folks are focusing on the year ahead part of my mind remains in last year. Last year was one of my most memorable years of running. Not because of fast race times but more because I am still running at my age and competing at a solid level.
The year began in Boston where I shared the road from Hopkinton with more than a dozen friends from my training group. But imagine, the true highlight was not the Boston Marathon but a race back where my running career started in prep school, Flint Michigan and the Crim 10 Miler. I was very honored to join 19 other runners as we were inducted into the “30 Year Club”. A club that has at least a 29 year waiting list to join! Yes, my 30th running of the Crim was very special.
Unfortunately for me, the year ended with knee injury. Adding to my grief was the fact that the injury was not running related. I had twisted my knee only slightly on a wet floor and that’s all it took to hamper but not prevent me from keeping my streak alive and running each and every Brooksie Way Half Marathon. My knee required significant rest and rehab. In other words, I was gaining weight and running much less, not a good combination for a competitive runner. This is why part of my mind is back in last year, yearning to return to my pre-injury fitness level.
Last December I also turned over another calendar in my life, not only moving up to a new (older) age group but also hitting that special number many people focus on since the start of their careers. The magical number of 65 years old! Most people see that as their retirement age. Not me! Thanks to my career as a runner I do not intend to retire anytime soon. Which also works hand in hand with being an architect too.
For you see the architectural profession is one where most practitioners do not even begin to hit their professional prime until the have 30, 40, or more years of experience. It is not unusual to see many talented architects practicing their profession well into their 80’s and beyond. My doctor tells me I should zoom past my 80’s and would not be surprised to see me running at 110 or more! Of course he also always follows that with a cautionary note for me to drive carefully too.
This is all quite a contrast to my father who passed away 34 years ago this week at the age of 52. I also recall my maternal grandfather turning 65 and his retirement from a life long career at Chrysler. I was 14 at the time and remember my grandfather complaining that it was not fun growing old. I witnessed his life in retirement and thought that was just the natural course of life.
Five years later I started my college days at University of Detroit, only a few blocks from my grandparents house. I visited each of them every Sunday for the day (and a good home cooked meal too). What I witnessed was the slow decline of my grandfather’s mind as dementia eroded the balance of his life and placed a tremendous hardship on those around him. He left us at 74.
Today, as I both look back and ahead, 74 seems so young! When I turn 74 I plan to join the Crim’s “40 Year Club”!
My point to all of this is that the number associated with one’s life on this planet does not necessarily need to align with society’s expectations. In today’s world it is much more common for older adults to be very active and participate in marathons, triathlons, and generally simply being physically active. For those who have been blessed to enjoy their career path, they stay in the work force as long as they can. Both the physical and work activity help to extend the lifestyle of active people.
So as I begin 2017 I am happy to still be working full time and looking forward to another year of competitive running. The numbers would indicate that I should sit back, relax, and watch the world go by. Sorry, that has simply never been my style for the past 65 years.
Thank you for taking a moment to glance at my blog, I resolve to be a more consistent contributor this year, and I wish you all a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, an Active New Year!
Coach (and still Architect) Lee