We all find inspiration in different ways, places, and people. A co-worker of mine sent me this video of two post-sixty-year-old women talking about their experience and goals of running ultra-marathon distances. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReYcQFaX07g They call themselves the “Grandmothers of Endurance.” As I watched, I was moved, challenged, and extremely jealous of this bond these two training partners had developed over the years. I identified with Vicki who didn’t start running until the age of 40 (I started at 48) and I hoped that I would be as buff as Barb (age 76) twenty-five years from now. I used to say that I hope my legs look as good as Lucille Ball’s did when she appeared at the Academy Awards at the age of 77, one month before her death. Now I have a few new icons.
My experience has been much the same as Barb and Vicki as people have questioned the audacity of believing that someone “my age” should be attempting physical enterprises such as marathons, half-marathons, and God forbid, speed work. To laugh off the criticism and concern like Barb and Vicki have by pushing through and doing it anyway is indeed a laudable goal. Of late, I have wondered whether I was just being shallow and self-serving by looking at the results of each race run and calculating how I did in my division, in my gender, and overall. Was the need for self-affirmation a character flaw? In listening to these two athletes, I discovered that it is the pursuit of the goal, the belief that you can outlast and outrun the competition, whether it is a person or the physical/mental obstacles is what separates those that sit on the couch from those that face both their potential and fear. And it is the courage that these women have as they face their potential and fear that I find so inspiring. Forget the Nike commercials featuring the nubile athlete that hasn’t the foggiest idea what a wrinkle, varicose vein, or drooping body part looks like. I’ll never believe that super-achiever in their commercials has any connection to me. I think if they were smart, they would sponsor a new set of athletes that could set the pace for a larger segment of the population, athletes like Barb and Vicki.
So, thank you Barb and thank you, Vicki for giving me every reason to pull on my shoes, hit the trail, road or track, and think about what should be my next goal. You can’t believe how much I needed that.