Marathons are the New Mid-Life Crisis

“Adam and Eve had their midlife crisis when they realized they were older than sin.”
–Jonathan Edward Caldwell (and your new corny joke for the day)

Black balloons.  Signs printed with “Over the Hill!”  An outdated picture of yourself in the newspaper with the caption, “Lordy, Lordy, look who’s 40!!”  This is the way our parents passed the 40th birthday milestone.  Just a few decades ago, turning 40 meant it was time to pack it all in, let the gray show and wait for the grandbabies.

No more, friends.  Now, 40 is FABULOUS and more of a reason than ever to fight back against aging.  Even the mid-life crisis has undergone a facelift.  Maybe it’s because we’re all in denial that 40 could actually be the middle of our lives?  But, as Karen Carpenter sang, “we’ve only just beguuuuuuun…to LIVE!”  How else to explain that the former idea of a mid-life crisis: a man buying a ridiculous sports car and taking up with a woman half his age, has been replaced with something entirely opposite:  extreme fitness.  Also important to note: it wasn’t that long ago that women simply weren’t allowed the luxury of a mid-life crisis.  Ladies just had to down a Prozac and a martini and push past it.  I guess some things never go out of fashion.


Isn’t it just so ironic?  So many of us spent our 20’s, the physical prime of our lives, systematically destroying our bodies with beer and pizza and late nights and bad decisions.  And now that things are starting to fall apart, we expect our bodies to rise up and give the performance of a lifetime.  It only took us half a lifetime to realize that all that talk about vegetables and daily exercise was actually really good advice.

But for some people, the pendulum has swung WAY over to the other side.  It’s not enough to just add daily exercise and healthy eating into the mix.  Extreme fitness is becoming the new addiction for the nearing- and crossing-40 set.  So, why are so many people trading their Porsches for protein shakes?  What about all the training for months on end to go to a perfectly lovely vacation spot for the sole purpose of running?  ALL DAY?  Why are soccer moms hefting tractor tires across an abandoned warehouse when they should be planning their next spa trip to Arizona?

I’ve taken a very scientific poll of exactly myself, and here are the answers to these burning questions:

1.  Bob from Accounting is a schmuck.
But you know what?  He’s also got an IronMan tattoo on his calf and all these different numbered stickers on the back of his car.  WHA???  Bob did an IronMan??  But he’s such a schmuck!  And this gets you to thinking…  If Bob the Schmuck is an IronMan, I can surely run a marathon, right?  Right.  And so now you’re dropping $15K to take your family to Disney for a week and wearing mouse ears while you run ALL DAY.

Who’s the schmuck now?

2.  You’re trying to cheat death.
Your body is hard wired to run from the Grim Reaper.  If we were cavemen, we would be dead and forgotten by now.  Further proof?  The Western Expansion was not that long ago.  How many 40 year olds do you think made it on the Oregon Trail?  (Umm, by the way, did you know that there’s an Oregon Trail App?  Careful…a “Wagon of Cash” is $49.99; no word yet on how much the cure for dysentery costs.)  It was nothing in those days for your heartless, pragmatic grandkids to leave your ass on the trail because you’re slowing them down.  Really, it only makes sense to train your body to be able to run all day, or carry wagon wheels (tractor tires).  Those are skills that may have saved your life (if only to later die from dysentery).

 Both these women are 32 years old.  Florence Thompson is on the left, in a photo taken in 1930.  Kate Moss is on the right, sometime in the mid-90’s.  The times, they are a-changing, (but denim is always a good choice).


3.  You’re Cheating on Your Spouse.
Stop me if you’re heard this one before.  Woman gets married and has a few kids.  Woman decides it’s time to get her life and body back on track.  Woman goes to gym and gets a trainer.  A young, male, fit trainer.  Woman and young, male, fit trainer are found in a very compromising position in the sauna.  Hey, it only becomes a cliché when it happens over and over.

4.  You’re NOT Cheating on Your Spouse.
But you don’t want to go home.  It’s the end of a long, hard day at work, but there’s still plenty of long, hard day left at home.  How can you get out of going back there and having to pitch in during the “witching hour?”  Wait!  What if you had to do something that’s on your “bucket list,” something that’s healthy, self-affirming and life-changing and makes you a better person overall?  No one could argue with that, right?

Stay-at-home parents and caregivers, take heart.  Your care partners recognize how hard your day is and they’d rather run until their feet bleed or throw heavy ropes around until they throw up than come home and do your job.  Carry on, warrior.

5.  You’re Cheating on Your Diet
Remember that bit about how if you were a caveman you’d be dead by now?  That’s partly because your tribe would have started denying you food about the time you turned 25. Evolution has streamlined your system to run off nothing but bird bones and partially digested nuts and seeds.  Sure, it’s efficient, but it also means that if you take your meals anywhere other than beneath your bird feeder, you’re going to end up with some excess jiggle.  And the jiggle is there to stay.  Incidentally, do you remember what a good friend your metabolism was back in your 20’s?  Kinda makes you wish you hadn’t been such a jerk to it, and maybe it wouldn’t be holding such a grudge.  My friends and I could decide to tone up for Spring Break maybe 3-4 weeks ahead of time.  That’s including 1.5 weeks worth of bitching and moaning about how fat we are, and can we just order a pizza, I promise this is the last one, and I mean, what are carbs anyway, and when are we going to find time to exercise, ok 9:00 pm works for me, and does your card key work at the gym and this is so HARD.  Then we’d do the Cindy Crawford workout video 5 times and we were READY.  Let’s order a pizza to celebrate!  Now, if I just give a somewhat meaningful glance to a Pop Tart, my jeans won’t button.  Ergo, you’re running to eat.  You’re literally running for your life.

6.  You need something to post on Facebook.
Seriously?  Map My Run?  Stop being a schmuck.

7.  It’s Now or Never.
You might be on to something here.  As much as we’re all laughing about our new aches and pains and various deficiencies, that’s just it: we’re laughing.  Soon, it’s not going to be so funny.  If you’ve made it this far, you know that chances to do great things don’t just keep presenting themselves.  (However, chances to do crappy stuff come up all the time.  Why is that?)

This guy wishes he could stop running, but he just really loves wine and Oreos.

old marathoner

Fauja Singh, the world’s oldest marathoner, at 101.

I’m not 40 yet, but it’s so close I can taste it.  I currently have ZERO desire to run a marathon and I only exercise in climate controlled venues (and often while watching TV or reading a book).  But I’ve gone back on so many “I will never, ever” statements that I can’t say that once my odometer turns over that I won’t also get the urge to undertake some extreme fitness.

And if I do, I’m totally getting a sweat turban like Fauja’s.



Cliches, Mantras and Maxims, Oh My!

“It is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés, that cliché is untrue.”
  Stephen Fry

I speak in clichés.  It’s a terrible habit, and one that I’d love to break, but can’t seem to.  It’s like saying “like.”  The more I try to stop it, the more I do it.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because I have a hard time thinking of something original to say, so I just go back to all the tired phrases that are tried and true.  And almost every time I utter one of these phrases, I think about how wrong it can be.  Two wrongs don’t make a right, but let’s overanalyze some of these, shall we?

“When it rains it pours.”
Wrong.  I mean, I get the spirit of the phrase, but as someone who has lived in the rain for about 6 weeks (a.k.a. FOREVER), it doesn’t just pour.  It drizzles and it spits.  It mists and it pelts.  It comes in at you sideways and it seeps into your bones and you feel like maybe you should never, ever leave your bed.  And why shower?  It’s just an upgraded imitation of what’s going on outside that you’re desperately trying to avoid.  I’ll raise your crappy cliché with a new mantra: “Rain, rain, go away.”

Easy as pie.
Have you made a pie?  Not always easy, friend.  Unless it’s that Oreo thing that comes in a box.  That’s pretty easy.  I’m 50/50 on this one.

If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
What?  Back up.  This is a flawed question.  I mean, how high is the bridge?  Is it over water?  How close are these friends?  Have we all be been drinking?  If so, what and how much?  I’m going to need more information here before I can answer your crappy question, MOM.

A penny saved is a penny earned. 
Pennies are worthless.  I mean, unless it was your great great grandfather who saved HIS pennies and invested them for you, in which case GOOD FOR FREAKIN’ YOU, this does not apply to the rest of us.

A penny for your thoughts.
Fantastic.  Maybe I’ll save it, along with the rest of those worthless pennies.  Or maybe I will…

Put your money where your mouth is.

I once went to a Bachelorette Party where there was a “gentleman entertainer.”  Most of us were horrifyingly embarrassed and at one point, a friend leaned over and said to me, “This is why I tell my children to never to put money in their mouths.”  Now THAT is some sound advice.

Practice makes perfect.
Or, at my house, practice makes everybody grumpy.  (“Do we haaave to gooooo??”)

Floss every day.
I’m on board with this.  I floss every day…that I have a dentist appointment.

What goes around, comes around.
What does this even mean?  Is it supposed to be if it goes away, it comes back?  Because to me, going around and coming around are kind of the same thing.  Oh, wait.  Maybe that’s it.  But I’m still confused.  So I guess it’s still something to say when I don’t know what else to say.  Is this the English version of “comme ci comme ca?”  Or another favorite, “it is what it is?”   Well, maybe this is a description of karma.  Ok, maybe I’m alright with this one.  Thanks for letting me talk it out with you.  Hey, what goes around, comes around, maybe you’ll be enlightened by something as well.

When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
Yes.  Another reason I can give my kids why we don’t have a dog.

Many hands make light work.
Nope.  Many hands go with lots of mouths which just ask questions like, “Why are we doing this work?  Isn’t there a better way we could be doing this work?  Shouldn’t someone else be doing this work?  Can we put it to a vote?  Do we have a quorum?  Who’s in charge?  How do I file a complaint?”  Geez.  All I wanted to do was stuff some envelopes and now it’s turned into an initiative to only use mailing supplies made from paper harvested from a sustainable grower and maybe this should all be online, but some people choose not to have an email address and we can’t make them feel excluded because that’s not fair and OH MY WORD.  Less hands, less talking.  Thank you.

Another day, another dollar.
We should put this guy with the penny guy and see who comes out ahead.

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Well, I don’t know about flies, but I do know about ants, and those little boogers are hard to get rid of.  I say keep your honey AND your vinegar in a cabinet with the tops securely fastened.

Why put off until tomorrow what you might get done today?
Because what would I do tomorrow?  Duh.

To make a long story short…
Ridiculous.  Obviously no one knows what this means, because every long story starts with this phrase.  Sometimes I don’t even mind a long story, but don’t try and sell me on it by calling it short.  It always starts out with “To make a long story short,” and then “Well, let me start at the beginning,” and then 2 hours later it ends with something ridiculous like, “Then I basically ended up in the desert with nothing but a bag of grapes!”  Oh, I’m sorry, I was thinking about my Netflix queue.  Can you go back to that part about the GPS saying “Recalculating?”

Well I guess I’m going to keep calm and put on my rain boots and look for the silver lining in this rainy day.  Because YOLO and I just wanna dance like no one’s watching.  Live, laugh, love, y’all.

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