Over 50 Health and Fitness

I am a little north of 50. I have mostly tried to take good care of myself and be healthy. I do some exercise, try to eat right, see the doctor, and laugh. However, I have had some health issues that I have had to deal with and overcome.

Cancer.

Twice.

Here is my story:

October 2010

We probably hear the word a hundred times a week but it doesn’t mean anything to us. But when the doctor comes in to your room, looks at you and your wife, and in his best bedside manner reads the C word off your chart the world stops. Nothing else he says is heard. You walk out of the clinic, get in the car and drive home; numb to the rain, numb to the other cars on the road, numb to the to do list sitting on the seat beside you. Nothing matters, everything matters.

Let’s back up a minute. My life did not start with cancer and neither does this story. The best place to begin is a few months prior.

When we were about 50 my wife and I realized we needed to do something to get into better shape than we were. My days of speed and agility that I remember as being just yesterday were further behind me than I wanted to admit. I remembered that I could run, in the past. It was time to start running again. So we did.

Actually, we started walking. We walked regularly and for good distances. Not long hikes but one or two mile walks. These were not gentle strolls. We began to realize we felt better and the weight we had worked so hard to gain was slowly coming off. My pants fit.

Encouraged by our success we began to run. Not one to do things half way, my wife signed us up for a running class that met twice a week. After signing us up she asked if it was OK that she did that. What could I say? So twice a week we met with a group of people just like us. People who wanted to run in order to get in shape, or back in shape. We ran and encouraged each other and called each other’s bluff when we ‘couldn’t’ run. “What do you mean there is 3 feet of snow on the ground? Run any way.” And we did, and the weight came off and we felt better which just encouraged us to run more. Each week we ran, twice as a class and one other day on our own. My wife and I were lucky, we could push each other to run that third day when we felt we did not have the time or just did not feel up to it.

By the time this ten week class ended I had lost 20 pounds. People noticed, but more important, I noticed. I was more in shape than I had been in years.. decades even. I know I was not in the same high school wrestling shape I was once in, but I was closer than I had been in a very long time.

As a graduation from the class we had a 5K fun run. The idea was not to break any records, or win, or place or even draw. The goal of the 5K was to finish. Just finish. It was a cool February day and we ran the 5K through the streets of Annapolis. I ran and I finished. I did not set the world on fire with my new running ability. In fact, I got beat by a guy pushing a stroller. But I crossed the finish line and had not stopped to walk one time. It was a victory for me.

On the other side of the finish line was a bug RV with the words Maryland Half Marathon painted on the side. I went over to talk with them and they told me they were holding a half marathon run in May. I told them it sounded great but I knew I would not be ready for a half marathon in three months. That’s OK, he said. You don’t have to run the entire thing. You can run a relay where two of you each run half. I quickly did the calculations in my head. A marathon is 26 miles. A half marathon is 13 miles. Half of a half marathon is 6.5 miles. I just ran 3.1 so I could certainly be able to run a little over twice that in three months. And spring is coming so the weather will be nicer and better for running. An added bonus was that it would give my wife and me something to train for. Having a goal helps keep the motivation going for running. So I signed us up.

When she finished the 5K and had a little time for recovery, I shared with her my great idea that I had already commit us to. She was thrilled.

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