Yesterday I ran outdoors for the first time this spring. Two days before I lifted weights and was still feeling tired, plus I’m fifty years old, so I took it easy and ran at a comfortable, even slow pace. Now I’m so sore that tossing and turning in bed wakes me up.
[EDIT, the next morning: Note that I’m not complaining in this post. I’m just observing. If anything, I appreciate the soreness. As for aging, I find it life’s greatest source of acceptance and therefore celebration. As I wrote in one of my blog’s earliest posts, If you can accept something you can celebrate it. Not long after posting, I fell asleep.]
I don’t remember feeling this sore. I know I used to, when I played ultimate, especially tournaments when I played at a nationals level and when I led teams, meaning I’d play many points for three or four games each, Saturday and Sunday. But yesterday I ran only my light run: down to Battery Park and back, along the river, about four or five miles, no hills, though I plog now, and there is more litter than ever, so a lot bodyweight lunges along the way.
What happened? I know the answer is age, but people run marathons into their eighties and nineties. I’ve been rowing on my machine all winter, so my heart and lungs can handle it. My legs can do the work. I think the pounding did it, not the exertion. Well, both. Still, Tom Brady is only a few years younger and plays historic-level football. George Foreman at age 45 won the unified WBA, IBF, and lineal heavyweight championship titles by knocking out a 26-year-old.
How long has it been?
I’m exploring how much of my life has passed in the time I’ve lived here, running that distance. When I moved here, I had defended my thesis but hadn’t yet been awarded my PhD, so was technically a graduate student. I had started Submedia. We had filed our first patent, but hadn’t been granted it yet. We had gotten our first funding, but I don’t think had found our first office yet.
Regarding fitness, I moved here about a year after my second and last time playing at nationals, after which I ran a marathon. At twenty-nine or thirty years old, I hadn’t hit my peak. I think I still played another season of elite ultimate, with a team comprising some of the best players in the game, missing nationals again by two points at regionals. Still, for years to come, I remember seeing the other teams often lining their best players to defend me, half proud and flattered, half wondering if I could get open against them.
At that time, running five miles didn’t count as exercise. It was a warm-up. I might run that much in a game, but sprinting, then followed up by another few games, repeated the next day.
Some milestones since that time: the September 11 attacks; Submedia launched; Submedia reached global prominence, then nearly went bankrupt, then the investors squeezed me out; I worked at another company a couple years; I went to business school; I devoted myself to learning attraction and dating skills to the level of becoming a coach for one of the top schools; I ran another three marathons and rowed two; all five of my nieces and nephews were born, the oldest of which is now in college; I began teaching at an elite university and wrote a couple books.
I could go on, but I don’t want to bore people, if anyone has read this far. I don’t know how those events sound to others, but I see how long has passed. Though only forty percent of my life, it’s still nearly a generation of time, all downhill since my physical prime. Still, it’s humbling to feel this sore after this light a workout, considering I still exercise daily, not that humility is bad. On the contrary, it helps us learn.
The older I get, the farther back I have to reach in memory. The sense in which I remember things from twenty years ago is different than I remember things more recent. I can’t replay them in my mind. It’s more like memories of memories, or abstract memories. I know those things happened. I learned from them and I can recall slivers of the events, but mostly they feel disconnected.
That’s all my middle-aged reminiscences in the dark for now. The issue wasn’t the soreness alone, but the soreness from what I used to consider less than a workout when I considered myself in decent shape.
It’s past 4am (I got distracted reading about George Foreman) and the noise from people drinking outside has died down. Maybe I’ll be able to fall asleep again.
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