The Truth About Getting Old

Posted: July 18, 2012 in Lifestyle, Training
Tags: ,
  • Swim (click to see stats)
  • 3300m (including 900m kicking)
  • 1:30:15
  • Calories = 778
  • Long Run (click to see stats)
  • 20k (1:55:11)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 157bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 168 bpm
  • Avg. Pace = 5:46/km
  • Best Pace = 4:34 /km
  • Calories = 1895
  • Temp = 32º
  • SOTD: ‘Holocene’ by Bon Iver

I am 40 years old today.  Good Lord.

Originally, I never thought that the big 4-0 would ever be a momentous milestone that I would relish commemorating, but besides entering into a whole new and, quite possibly, more competitive age group category, I actually have a lot to be thankful for this year and celebrate.  I contemplated this whole ‘getting’ old’ thing between 100m sprint sets in the pool this morning and, I have to say, I’m totally fine with it.  In fact, I’m more than fine with it…I’m fucking awesome.

To point, it was almost around this time, nearly 6 years ago, that I first decided that things in my life needed to change.  Although my motivation then was a bit different than it is now, it was the first monumental tentative stepping stone towards a healthier lifestyle.

Here is a little snippet from my old blog journal back then that I aptly entitled ‘The Yogurt Monologues’:

For the past week, I have started eating more vegetables and less Quarter Pounders, forgone second helpings, snubbed my nose at desserts, made healthier decisions, and started a strict exercise regimen of power walking in the evenings. Seven-whole-fucking-days…and I haven’t strayed from the plan, or stabbed myself in the forehead with a grapefruit knife.

Yes, I remember those early days.  It wasn’t easy.  Over the next few months I suffered through just about every ache, pain, pull, stitch, strain, cramp, and so forth, that any fat guy could ever possibly go through as he begins to use his body again in a way that it wasn’t accustomed to – namely, moving.  And when I say ‘suffered’, I mean it: Plantar Fasciitis, shin splints, iliotibial (IT) band issues, knee problems, hip problems, back problems, tendonitis, nasty rashes, and more blisters than you could shake a Snickers bar at.  Being nearly 320 lbs. at the time, I suffered through it all, and all at the ripe age of 34 years young.  But suffer through it all I did and lost a considerable amount of weight in the process.  Hell, I can’t tell you how exciting it was to finally be able to see ‘Mr. Winkie’ in the shower after God knows how many years!

Then, approximately three years later (almost to the day no less), I made another important decision: I decided to try my hand at triathlon.  Yup, the original big, sweaty, breathless leap from cheeseburgers to triathlon!  Sure it was on a dare from my little (fitter) brother, but it was still a fateful epoch in my life.  Of course, needless to say, in the beginning I was to multi-sport what belt sanders are to nipples.  Prior to that, had somebody told me then that I would be up at the crack of dawn to swim laps at the local pool or start forgoing late nights in front of the boob tube so that I could get up for an early 90k bike ride the next morning, I would have responded in much the same manner as someone who has been confronted with a man riding an ostrich. And, believe me, the chances of running into such a spectacle as that seemed much more probable then my ever-surviving one of these events.  All I knew about triathlon was that “Tri” – meant “three” – and “athlon” meant “preparing to have your sorry ass annihilated”.  Before, the only important things that I ever did in threes were toasted BLT’s and the number of daily trips to MacDonald’s.  Never mind the whole swim, bike, and run thing.  But I am stubborn as I am dumb…thankfully.

Don’t let the forced smile fool you, I considered myself lucky to be alive at this point (Milton, 2009)

My first event, a sprint distance event back in April of 2009, was in Milton (click HERE for stats).  Was it fun you ask?  Hell no!  It outright sucked.  It was a total cul-de-sac of misery actually. At times, it was as if God himself were giving me the finger.  I even remember worrying that I had, somehow, contracted nerve damage when I failed to actually feel my feet striking the ground while attempting to run off the bike.  But it was exciting.  My feet were sore (duh), my legs ached, my lungs burned and it made my heart beat faster than a Spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew.  Any more excitement and I would have been a literal ‘spewnami’ of triathlete guts all over the pavement; my official race stats would have been a smeared stain at the 7.6k mark.  I went on to compete and complete in another five Sprint triathlons that year, gradually decreasing my times bit by bit.  I even placed first in the ‘Fat Guy’ category (Clydesdale) in Welland.  I still hadn’t the vaguest idea of how to train properly, but I was getting fitter and gave me a sense of purpose that I hadn’t had before and that made me happy.

The next year, I decided to challenge myself again.  Apparently, the short distance events were no longer giving me the same, well, oomph.  Oh no, I should do a Half Ironman.  What a novel idea.  So I leapt – quite literally – into long distance triathlon, by-stepping Olympic distance triathlons altogether.  Why?  I have no idea but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  This was also the year I decided to get myself a coach.  Am I a glutton for punishment or what?  Suddenly, I had a strict schedule thrust upon me which I agreed to follow religiously as her guinea pig in achieving her own Level Two NCCP (National Community Coach Program) certification goal.  I still work with her now as our agreement involved my getting to and surviving Ironman which comes to fruition in two short months.

Since then, I have learned many of the ins and outs of triathlon-specific training, including the often forgotten disciplines of recovery and nutrition – both things I struggle with constantly but, then again, who doesn’t?  I ran my first Half Iron distance race on my 38th birthday at the Musselman in Geneva, NY in an unimpressive time of 5:56:47.  More realistically, it was an example of how NOT to run a long distance triathlon and, ultimately, ended with me hobbling across the finish line in quite severe pain.   But I was determined to do better.  I might not be the brightest bulb in the box but I’m definitely no quitter, that’s for sure.

I still may not be pretty, but it almost looks like I know what I’m doing! (Cancun, 2011)

So, at 39 years old and with a renewed purpose on improving on that original Musselman time, I set forth into the next year’s training program with the ultimate goal race being the Cancun 70.3.  In fact, I completed two half Iron events that year, the other being the local Welland Half Iron where I shattered my Musselman time by nearly a full hour and almost cracked the five hour barrier with a time of 5:02:25.  In the process, I lost another 30 lbs. from the year before, no doubt thanks to the ridiculous amount of time I spent training in the heat and humidity preparing to race in Mexico.  Likewise, I also discovered yoga for which I’ve become a dedicated practitioner.

In total, up until today that is, I have competed in 16 different triathlons including three Half Iron events, 12 running events including two 30k distances and 5 half marathons, 3 100k-plus cycling events and I can’t even count the number of unofficial half marathon plus distances and century rides I’ve covered as part of my own personal training for it all.  I’m not saying I’m special or deserving of any particular hero biscuit or anything, but for a dedicated, slovenly couch potato of 34 years, this is pretty significant I think.

Which brings me to today.  Currently, as part of my Ironman training this summer I run a marathon plus each and every week, I cycle more kilometers than I drive in my own car and as for swimming, well, let’s just say I do a lot of that as well.  So at 40 years old, I’m feeling pretty damn good about myself.  I can do things now that I never dreamed were possible even, say, 20 years ago when I was supposedly in my “prime”.  I’m in the best shape of my life NOW!

Even better still, I’m no longer doing it alone.  I’ve been fortunate enough this year to have found the love of my life with whom, none of this current training and conditioning would be as productive.  I have a reason now to get out of bed each morning, to forgo the late night booze binges, and to return home each day with a renewed sense of purpose ready to do it all the next day.  Yeah, I’m one lucky son of a bitch for sure!  So what does next year bring?  Providing I survive Ironman that is, of course.  Next year it’s not going to be about ‘I’ so much as it’s going to be about ‘we’.  My girlfriend has expressed an interest to do the Tour du Lac event next year encompassing us riding 940k in seven days around Lake Ontario in support of local Cardiac Care.  How awesome will that opportunity be?

I’ll still do triathlon, but until I complete Mission: Wales, I’m not sure where or what events and/or distances I’ll commit to yet.  If I like it, I might set my sights on improvement and take on Ironman Canada, or maybe peel it back and concentrate on going fast for a change with more Olympic distance events and another scenic 70.3 event thrown in for good measure.  Who knows?  Feeling the way I feel now, the world’s my oyster and there’s no turning back now.  Oh, and I still have a super-secret goal that I’m not ready to publicly announce yet either.  I’m also currently weighing in at 177 lbs. representing an approximate loss of 143 lbs. over all since starting on this whole health conscious crazy train.  40 is good…very good.

What it feel like to be old?  Well, let’s put it this way, if my swim and run workouts were anything to go by today, ‘old’ feels pretty damn awesome.  Hey, 40 might just be the next 25.  Bring it on!

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Comments
  1. Carolyn says:

    Happy, happy birthday! So excited for the years ahead… They will no doubt be the best yet. Keep up the exceptional work!

  2. Kelly says:

    awwww, sweetie, you make my heart melt !
    We are so proud of all your accomplishments, and can’t wait to see what the future holds !

  3. Jeff says:

    Happy Birthday Terry!! Keep up the awesome!!

  4. Jan says:

    MAGNIFICENT IN EVERY WAY!
    Congratulations.
    Jan

  5. sid says:

    excellent blog post

    and good for you

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