A short while ago I participated in a “community-wide open” indoor track meet hosted by a local university. I’d never done anything like this before (not even in school … believe it or not, I was not much of an athlete as a kid), and this seemed like a great opportunity to try something new.
I got there early because I wasn’t sure what to expect. There were many events with multiple heats in each: 200m, 400m relay, pole vault, etc. Registration procedures were not intuitive. Much of the terminology was foreign to me. There were a lot of people, and they were doing exotic warm-up exercises I’d never seen before. To my eye, it looked like everyone knew what they were doing. Me? Not so much.
Fortunately, I recognized a few friendly faces, asked a bunch of questions, and eventually started to feel less overwhelmed. I had entered the 1600m and 3200m races (the two longest events available). The events were far enough apart on the schedule that I spent most of my day at the meet. While waiting for my two events I walked around the facility, and my activity tracker recorded fourteen “bonus” walking miles that day!
My 1600m time was 6:21.10. My previous one mile PR was 6:32, so this was a new standard for me. It felt awesome, and I probably looked a little silly wearing such a big, dopey grin on my face. My 3200m time was 14:14.75, which was also a PR by virtue of having never before raced that distance.
Incidentally, I was near the bottom of the leaderboard in both events. Most of the athletes were teenagers (or younger), and those kids were fast! I didn’t see any other runner near my age (47 years old), which just broadened that dopey grin.
A few days after the meet, I was talking with someone who’s daughter had competed at this meet too. She said, “Dad, I think one of your running friends was there.. He was an old, bald guy, and was kinda fast for his age.”
On a slightly different note, I also play in an Ultimate Frisbee league, and for the past few seasons, I’ve been the oldest guy in the league. I’m certainly not the most complete player out there, but I play hard and try to contribute. It’s a lot fun and a great cross training workout!
I don’t mind being known as the old guy who is really active. Actually, I really like being known as the old guy who is really active. I’ve played an Ultimate league game in the evening after having ran a full marathon that morning. Who does that? The old guy who is really active.
I do feel a little silly when I think about how I wasted so many years. I didn’t embrace an active lifestyle until I was 43 years old. I could have been doing cool stuff like this all along!
I’ve decided that I’m not going to let how I lived the first portion of my adult life dictate how I live the rest of it. So … yeah, I’m the old guy … and I’m cool with that.