Sunday, March 15, 2015

Aging up: A Meditation on Turning 40..

On the eve of my 40th birthday, I find myself completely baffled on how I have arrived at this place in time.  I have often heard people exclaim "where did the years go?" and "oh how time flies" but never imagined that I would be thinking in those terms.  But here I am, on the precipice of what is commonly referred to as "middle age." It's a funny space because you're by no means old but by you're no longer referred to as young.  I'm no longer "up-and-coming" or a "young professional."  I'm a Ma'am not a Miss, a Madame not a Mademoiselle. 

Instead of many who wear black and mourn the loss of their youth on their 40th birthday, I embrace this new distinction of maturity, and in some ways, have looked forward to it.  Although  I have many flaws, I also have a few things about which I can boast as a middle-aged person.  I have not one strand of grey hair.  Seriously, it's weird.  I think my mother started greying in her early 30s.  I have very few wrinkles and if I am blessed enough to inherit the genes of the black women in my family, the wrinkles shouldn't be a noticeable issue until my late 50s.  Although I can stand to lose some more weight, I've dropped about 10 lbs in the last few months and I have no major health problems.
So all things being equal, this 40 thing isn't too bad so far.

One thing that hits me right in the face is the concept of "aging up" in racing.  Age 40 is one's official entry into what is called the "masters" racing category.  Basically the over-the-hill competitive category.  What does that mean for me?  Nothing really, since I was never in the competitive category to begin with, but it's still weird.  This week I race my first race in the F40-44 category in the Hot Chocolate 15K in San Diego.  Again, I don't really feel any different (maybe even a tad bit more fit), but it's just strange to see the 4-0 after your name in race results. 

Last week, I was at the pool one morning and was chatting with a  women in the lane next to me who regularly swims at this particular pool.   We were talking about triathlons for this season: 

Me:  What races do you have planned for this year?
Her: I have a few in Omaha and Tinman in KS, but I'm aging up this year so we'll see what the competition is like.
Me:  Me too, I age up to F40-44 this season.
Her:  That's a competitive age group.  I age up to 75-79 and I'm not sure what to expect.

Yeah, female age 75-79.  Racing several triathlons this year. That is so amazingly kick-ass.  Did I mention that she smokes me in the pool and she is in incredible shape?  So all this to say, age is just a number.  Let's embrace it and keep moving until we can't.
Kendra's first major race:  The Crim 10 mile, age 29

First Marathon:  Detroit, age 30

First triathlon, age 38
Best Olympic tri, age 39