3 min read
1 Book rec, ancient Toltec wisdom
Mid-life has its miseries. As does adolescence and old age, and while we’re on the topic, puppy-dom. My 11 month-old shepherd-boxsky mix Simba is pushing at my elbow as I write–he has mauled three sets of slippers and my favorite running shoes this week–and I ignore him at my peril.
My point is: Happiness in life stages are all alike; unhappiness in a life stage is unhappy in its own way.* Mid-life for me has fitness challenges. It was most noticeably on display in the Army’s ten-miler around Washington, D.C. this October. I had not trained. Running is not a mid-life habit though I have committed to doing this ten-miler every year, if nothing else than to visit the city of my birth and hang out with soldiers.
This is the sixth time I’ve “run” the race. I use quotes because this year was the first time I did not “run” the ten miles. To be impeccable with my word,* I shuffled the first half. My official split says 11:07 pace for the first five miles. Those five miles were more than I ran in the previous month. Perhaps this year. My hamstrings had been tight and cramping during my training; the IT (iliotibial) band was painful. Rather than do nothing, I walked a lot. I took turmeric and Advil. As for the race: kinda walked, kinda jogged. And, I finished ten miles.
Here’s inspiration for the mid-packers and the mid-lifers. Around about mile six, as I’m creeping past the Washington Monument on Independence Avenue, I am feeling every muscle in my legs and my calves are on the verge of full-on charlie horse. Participants in this section wear the race shirt, yep. There are big runners and older runners. There was a double amputee runner, which was humbling beyond words.
As I came to the turn-around block, I noticed a man ahead, his body like a fullback, maybe six feet and 250 pounds. His running shorts were snug over compression tights and his tee-shirt clung to him like a second skin. The clothing was black except for a white fanny back which he wore on his left hip. I saw some sort of print on the back of his tee. I was gaining on him.
He unzipped his fanny pack as he was walking, took out something and tossed it in his mouth. A whiff of grape Nehi hit me. You read it right. A grape chew or something. I was close enough to smell the grape and read the words on his shirt.
Kinda Fit, Kinda Fat.
The man was jogging now, surging on his energy chew. I laughed and laughed, forgetting my pain. Thinking I resembled the remark on his shirt, kinda fit and kinda fat. It was enough to distract me on those last miles across the Potomac River and back to the Pentagon. I walked and jogged, but mostly I walked. It was warm on the final stretch.
I jogged over the rubber hump at the Finish, the stands full, sounds blasting over the speakers. I grabbed a bottle of water and tossed it back, the coolness trickling down my throat. As I turned into the Pentagon South Lot, I saw him. Standing and waiting, the fanny pack runner had finished. Ahead of me.
“I love your shirt,” I said, as I looked at the logo. “One of the best I’ve seen today.” He gushed, his whole face in a smile.
Kinda Fit, Kinda Fat.
- “We are a community dedicated to those who love fitness and food.”
- “You can be and SHOULD be proud of your body no matter what stage of the fitness journey you are on.”
- “Hit them PRs. Make them gainz. Eat that donut.”*
After the race, a group of us head over to Matchbox restaurant for lunch. The staff brought them out late, but they were heaped onto the platter, hot from the kitchen with chocolate syrup.
*Play on Leo Tolstoy’s first lines to Anna Karenina. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The Anna Karenina principle states that a deficiency in any one of a number of factors dooms an endeavor to failure. Consequently, a successful endeavor (subject to this principle) is one for which every possible deficiency has been avoided.
*Toltec Wisdom: Be impeccable with your word. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
*Kinda Fit, Kinda Fat. Founder/CEO is Dan Tangalo: “Growing up, I was a chubby, awkward, and nerdy kid. Not being blessed with the talent of athleticism, I struggled with sports, and as a result, I struggled with my self-esteem. It wasn’t until college that I picked up my first weight at the gym which ultimately began my fitness journey.”