You have a lot of time to yourself when you run; a lot of time to think. I was on a ten miler this morning, which meant I had well over an hour alone with myself. Today– of all days– seems like a good point for a critical self-examination, and for a probing self judgment. And a run is a good time to go introspective… a good time to see if I pass or if I fail.
I have not been looking forward to the big 5–0. As I approached the half-century mark, I saw more of a millstone than a milestone looming. Two, three, four months ago, I just wanted time to stop; I did not want to turn 50, and I was afraid of this day. And then I sort of stopped thinking about it. Now that this day is here, it is simply here. No good cast, no bad cloud; it just is. Perhaps I have mellowed a lot over the last couple weeks, perhaps I have changed a lot without really noticing. But today is no longer a day of dread… it just is. And I am fine with that. That was my first major realization today.
I am headed down 7800 now, running downhill. I pick up speed, but I don’t have to concentrate on it– I am on auto pilot. I have done this road before, I know the dips and the cracks. So let’s look at my fifty years. I look at where I am today– right now– versus where I might have been, where I was, and what I have been.
Even (or especially) against where I was even a month ago, I see how lucky I have been. The past month has been very good to me. (Maybe this is why today is no longer filled with dread, a small voice reminds). My daughter has gotten into a very good school, and we can afford to send her there. I have gotten a job that pays well, has great benefits, and allows me the hours to train and to work with Tori. But over my 50 years, how much more lucky can a person get?
It goes without saying how blessed I am with my family– a loving wife, and a beautiful, intelligent daughter. My whole family is great,kind and loving. They have put up with me more than they should and forgiven me when they probably did not want to.
And in life, I have been able to do much more than one person should. I have met Presidents and peasants, traveled to the South Seas and Mediterranean islands, Paris and Provence. I have been lucky enough to be there every day to watch my daughter grow up. I have been lucky enough to be involved with a group of extremely talented young women who graciously allow me to share the stage with them. I could go on, but it is sufficient to say I have had more than my share of good times and profound experiences.
As I round 7th West (and nearly get hit by a woman in a black Jetta), I decide that these are all well and good, but there is one thing I am truly rich in: friends. I find making friends easy– it is one of my favorite sports. I must be good at choosing them, because I have found so many good ones. Again, people who put up with my quirks, but unlike my family, people who do not have to. That says something about all of them, I think.
But they have all taught me and helped me along my path to fifty. They have all added to me, and made me a better person. I hope that I reflect their better qualities back, too.
A lot of random thoughts I have had in the last week coalesced; a lot of my dread and fear melted away. Maybe I have mellowed, maybe that is what turning 50 is all about. Maybe it is about not letting those things you can do nothing about bother you, maybe it is (God forbid!) growing up, but I do feel a change, recent and deep rooted.
Fifty is a milestone, no matter what I want to think. To prove to myself I am still worthy, I will take on the St. George Marathon in a month and a half. As I pass Green Oak– still headed north, mind you– I know I can do that, that I can finish 26 miles. I beat my ten-year-old Burley Triathlon time handily this year, I am in good shape physically. Today’s run seems to be settling me mentally.
I notice one more thing from the last month. At every turn, at every point something good is happening to me, I am presented with an opportunity to give back, to volunteer back to my community, my city, or our school. I feel that these opportunities are not random or chance, there is a definite reasoning behind them; I feel the message to me is that it is my time to give. And so as I look back, I also decide to look forward; my next 50 years will be more about giving of myself than what I can take.
As I round the right at 5300 South, the sun is rising. I can feel it its warmth on my legs; it feels good as a pour on a quick burst of speed down toward the parkway. The morning started with a chill but now is quite pleasant; It has been a good run. My brains feels as clear and light as the early morning sky, and my legs just keep moving on their own. And I know this magic moment, this conversation with myself is now over, because I can see the end in my minds eye. There are no more words, just a single image. Again, it is a friend I have to thank for even knowing about this… so thank you Steve. The only proper way to summarize my fifty years is with the simple three words that adorn Ed Wynn’s grave: