When I was 15, a friend told me she was doing a charity walk the next day. I think it was 25 miles. She asked me if I wanted to do it with her. Sure! I didn't even think about it. We walked all day. I bet my feet hurt, and I was tired, but I don't really remember. I just remember it was a fun day.
Ask me today if I want to walk 25 miles on a whim, and the answer is hell, no. It's not that I couldn't finish. I probably could. But the recovery would suck. My knees don't come back quickly and 25 miles on my feet will result in 25 hours on my rear. A couple of bananas and a good night's sleep don't solve these problems anymore.
Long training days have an impact. Saturday's 40 mile ride meant a vague feeling of weary nausea for the rest of the day. I decided to skip the Sunday morning charity 5K because my knees won't run without consequence after a long ride. And I have things to do.
Instead I slept in and feel better for it. I am enjoying the day in my pajamas cooking and putzing around the house and will be ready to hit the gym hard again tomorrow. Every week I have to decide how much physical soreness and sleep deprivation I can manage in addition to my regular responsibilities of work and family.
I think this aging thing is more complicated than we admit. Age is definitely a number. It's the number of years you've been on the planet. But it's also the number of responsibilities you've taken on and the number of lessons you've learned. It's a measure of physical development and decline but also of intellectual growth and emotional commitment. Being 48 isn't just about bad joints and extra pounds. It's also the value of two teenage boys and a 20 year marriage. It's a 27 year career and all the accompanying gifts that come from 48 years of being a daughter, a friend, and a citizen.
Age can be just a number. I can devote the time, energy, and money required to be the best triathlete I can possibly be. Or I can devote myself to doing the best I can to balance my hobby as an athlete with my real life as a wife, mother, friend, teacher, and citizen.
Yesterday I rode 40 miles, did the grocery shopping, house cleaning, 3 loads of laundry, made dinner, and drove my kids to a party. It was a long hard-ass day.
Today I baked banana bread, wrote this post, and watched the Bears game. I'll make some dinner and go to bed early.
Tomorrow I will be well-rested and ready to give my best to my job, my family, and my workout.
48 is just a number. It's my number. It's my life.