I just finished a week of triathlon training here in Arizona and fly home Monday.
It was so wonderful to be back doing what I love. In the past 15 months since the crash I have only really swam laps once and I only managed 500m. This past week during the six days of camp, we swam over 10,000m. Thankfully, I have been running since a month after the surgery in December 2015, but even with that, I sure felt the speed and hill training that came along with 36kms of running in less than a week.
It was during the 240kms of cycling that I heard someone say the title for this article. On the second last day of camp, we cycled 108km, including a portion that took us uphill for two hours, then ripping fast downhill to a mountain lake, Bartlett Lake/Reservoir. Obviously, a big downhill is followed by turning around and heading up hill. Being out of shape and a lot heavier than my camp mates, I was slower heading back up and was riding along alone. Eventually I passed a gentleman that I would have guessed to be in his late 60’s, or maybe older. He had white hair but was right there on the same road as me, riding his bike up that mountain. I made a comment that it ‘sure was easier coming down the other way’. He half smiled and said to me, “Don’t get old son.” We were only in ear shot for a brief moment, but I said back, “It beats the alternative though, have a great day!”
I feel like I know what he meant though. Seeing me ride much faster and seem to zip by him, I probably seemed pretty young. He wouldn’t know that I’m a lot closer to 50 than 45. He was probably thinking back to his younger years, when he likely could have taught me a thing or two about riding a bike fast up a hill. He also wouldn’t know that, having nearly died just over a year ago, I was serious. I’m pretty happy to be alive and growing old. To me, being 25lbs over my usual weight and a lot slower climbing my bicycle out of a mountain lake area is still a lot better than not being alive. I’m actually pretty happy about getting older in that respect. Yes, my eyes are not as great as they were before the crash and my hearing is a bit off on one side now. Add in a shoulder that isn’t right along with a dodgy knee and I’m still happy to be alive and getting older.
We seem to be at war in our society with getting older and I certainly feel that now more than ever. I would rather my body stayed 30 something while my mind kept learning stuff, but that isn’t how it works. There is still something we can do about it and that fellow was in the midst of it. He was exercising. He was pushing his muscles, heart and lungs to stay fit, healthy and young. That’s what we can control. If we’re lucky getting older will happen no matter what we wish for.
Eating great food and exercising is the only fountain of youth that is real and under our control. I know that my time here is limited and the odds of me getting faster are going to come to a close some day although I’m not totally ready to admit that one yet.
The body is still a machine and it still works the same way no matter our age. Resistance training coupled with good food, water and adequate rest create adaptation and change. We as humans can still grow new muscle tissue at any age. Yes, as we grow older the recovery takes longer and the speed slows, but the fact remains; we can still adapt.
Exercising with intensity causes the release of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and that makes us younger and healthier. The worst thing we can do as we age is stop those three things: training, eating well and recovering. So that man riding his bike up a mountain was creating the same changes I was, and although he seemed sad at the memory of years gone by; the fact of the matter is, he was doing what he could to stay young. I hope you get the chance to grow old.