I have been turning 50 for more than two years now.
At age 48, I decided to train for my first marathon. Actually, I hadn’t even turned 48, but that January, when I started my usual three-month preparation period to deal with the psychological trauma of my birthday in April (the cruelest month), I realized with some horror that my mom was 48 when I first took note of her age and by then she was already old.
Though I’m a writer, I can do some basic math. At 47, you’re closer to 45. At 48, there is no turning back. It’s a flashing, fret-lined, fat-fuelled, free fall to the big ‘ffing fifty. Might as well skip the denial and accept that you’re already 50.
The number has a way of concentrating the mind — even mine, which given my sign, a goat, is prone to scrambling up this mountain pass, only to reach an impasse; then scrambling up that dead-end path because the view is just spectacular over there; and then trying another whole new route because I’m curious like that; and on and on.
As I stared down 48, 49, 50, I realized there was no more time for scrambling. I had just two years to grow up!
Bizarrely, that’s when I decided to train for my first marathon. Never in my previous five or six lives did I ever dream of running one. I have flat-feet for gadsakes.
But in the middle of some hot flash of genius, this idea came to me: The marathon had something to teach me.
I figured that by chasing that terrifying goal, I might develop superior commitment, discipline, focus, even fearlessness, and perhaps other things (maybe a tight runner’s butt?), which I could apply to my career.
Because there are a few really big things I want to accomplish and time, as they say, is running.
So far, my strategy has worked, for running anyway. This April, a week after I turn 50, I will toe the line of my third marathon, at the big kahuna of all marathons, Boston. Yes, I qualified in the 50 to 54 age group. Yep, moving into THAT age category (another set of numbers to prepare for.)
But I’m okay with it. Really, I am. I mean, I’ve been preparing for 50 for more than two years now. How bad can it be when it really happens?