Aging is a normal part of life. But for many of us, another birthday is something that we dread, especially the big ones- turning 40, 50, and 60. Even talking about age is not always comfortable. Many women, for instance, will not willingly tell their age.
But for runners, this is not the case. Not only do runners need to admit their actual age at each race, each passing year is something to look forward to – especially the birthdays that move us into another 5 year age group – 35, 45, 50, 55, and so on. Each new age group is a new chance to compete against a new group of runners. Being the youngest in the age group oftentimes gives you an added advantage if your prior age group was very competitive. And the “big” milestone birthdays that depress non-runners, runners look forward to, with the big “4-0” putting you into the master’s category and 50 the grand masters, which gives you a new chance to compete for an overall award in the masters division.
I remember recently standing next to a gentleman at the start of a marathon who was looking around to see if his “nemesis”, as he called him, was going to show up for the race. He told me that he was in the 70-75 age group and that in his age group he knew his competition by name because there was so few of them. He shared that he and his competitor took turns winning their age group depending on who showed up for the race. He said that his strategy for winning races was to outlive the competition and keep running. I shared that I hoped to be able to do the same.
So, with each year, I get closer to my goal of being able to keep winning another award by looking forward to each birthday, still running, and when all else fails just showing up when the competition doesn’t.