Last week I turned 46. I am not afraid of my age – I embrace it! Every wrinkle (plenty of laugh and smile lines), every age spot (outdoor fun), every gray hair (with 3 sons I have more than my fair share), every click in my knees (hundreds and hundreds of miles run), and even the hair on my chin that makes an appearance every couple of weeks (something to laugh at with my BFF). Plenty of scars too. I’m proud of it all.
I’m a year older than I was this time last year. Just like everyone else on the planet. But I don’t feel it. (Other than needing bifocals.) I celebrated birthday #46 with a four mile run in my pink kicks, a 3 hour hike on the Appalachian Trail in my hiking boots, an exercise dance class and two martinis. Yes, all on the same day.
It makes me sad when women don’t embrace their age. We have one life, ladies – one. It is ours to seize, to enjoy, to make the most of, to laugh, cry, love and give. My favorite quote, found somewhere on the internet and altered a little…
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, with chocolate in one hand and a martini in the other, screaming ‘That was a hell of a ride!’”
For the past few years, I’ve made a promise to myself to do something a little daring each birthday. It’s usually of the badass type, like involving a tattoo or jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet.
This year, (other than running, hiking and dancing), my badass dare to myself involves iron.
As in Ironman.
Not the Robert Downey Jr. version. (Which, btw, I do enjoy immensely.)
Instead, a 2.4 mile swim. Followed by a 112 mile bike ride. Followed by a 26.2 mile run.
Ironman Maryland, October 2016.
I’ve made the commitment to do this. To train like the badass mother runner that I am.
Why would I do this to myself?
Because I can.
Because why the hell not?
Because I started running at age 40. My first race was a half marathon. My second was a full marathon. I like to go all out.
Because I was the kid that was always picked last for teams at school. And always hit first in dodgeball.
Because I’ve been laughed at – to my face – for my marathon pace. Yeah, I’m not speedy, but I’m a runner and I get it done.
Because an orthopedist, as I was explaining to him that I was training for the NYC Marathon, looked me in the eye and said as condescendingly as possible…”A marathon? You know that’s a long way, right?”
Because women have fought long and hard – and continue to fight – for equality and recognition in sports. And I am eternally grateful to all those strong women who have marked the open water, roads, trails and all sports surfaces with their blood, sweat and tears. Four of my favorite badass women athletes, who are not afraid to push boundaries, inspire and lead: Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon; Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, creators of Another Mother Runner and two of the most encouraging women out there; and Meredith Atwood, of Swim Bike Mom fame and recent Ironman Lake Placid finisher. (I’m a swim-bike-fan…I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Meredith yet!)
Why am I committing to an Ironman?
Because I have one life, and I plan on doing everything that I can to be thoroughly used up, coming in sideways, with sore knees, scars, sweating, with chocolate in one hand, a martini in the other, screaming “That was a hell of a ride!”