Saturday, October 22, 2011

Retirement Lessons — Run for Your Life

Last weekend I attended a first-ever reunion of the people who spent their summers in the town where I grew up. More than 120 showed up, with ages spanning three decades. My own group was well represented, including a half dozen women camped out at the family cottage one of the men still owns. Yes, you read correctly: six women and one man, and nary a cat fight the entire time.

It was a fabulous weekend. Exhilarating, yet humbling. And upon reflection, motivating. By my own assessment, I was one of the least fit women my age (or older, perhaps, as well.) One of my peers, who looks to be about size four, was out running every morning at 6:30. I was the last one to get up both days (yet one of the first to bed—after the runner retired, of course.)

As it happened, I had my semi-annual check-up this week. My doctor was pleased that my blood pressure continues to be under control with minimal medication. He did not mention that there is still too much of me. When I brought this up, he claimed not to remember ever having said that. But even in my most self-deprecating moments, it’s not something I would have made up.

A few days ago, my husband forwarded an article from the UK Guardian News on an Indian man who just set the record for being the oldest person to finish a marathon. He’s 100, and he didn’t start serious running until he was 89. His photo shows him in a brightly colored turban, his long beard bifurcated by the breeze, and wearing a T-shirt that reads “Sikhs in the City.” Marathon not withstanding, you have to admire a Punjabi centenarian with a global sense of humor.

All of this has me thinking that the time has come for me to take up a serious exercise program. I used to jog a few miles several times a week. I stopped that well over a decade ago and assumed it would be fruitless to try to reestablish such a routine. Seeing at least one of my peers “just doing it” (running, that is) and reading that others only just began running in their eighties have inspired me. Not to mention that my college reunion is coming up in May.

I’m not foolish enough to go for a run straight out of the gate. I plan to start with an invigorating walk a few times a week. In fact, I convinced my husband to take a stroll with me on our anniversary last Thursday. (He took the day off so we could spend some quality time together.) This afternoon I went for a brisk, forty-five minute walk. Small steps, but that’s how many long distance efforts begin.

Those of you who are my neighbors should keep an eye out for the two of us walking the Boulevard on Sunday mornings. My husband is Punjabi, but he doesn’t let his beard grow; and he’s not a Sikh, so there won’t be any turban on view. However, he can be recognized by his walking stick, a bamboo-like affair with a crook’d handgrip. I’ll be the one in the printed T-shirt, but it’s more likely to be promoting some charitable event than a TV show.

If you recognize us, be sure to call out some words of encouragement. We’re likely to need them. After all, we’ll be running—or more accurately, walking—for our lives. And for my next reunion.

No comments: