NYC Marathon: Falling Apart at 50

My New York City Marathon training regime has not featured a lot of running. Sadly, I seem to swap one injury for another while attempting to keep my skin in the game. When a friend recently asked me how I was recovering from one ailment, I couldn’t bear the thought of complaining about another. When I suggested such, her response was, “Maybe your next book should be called Falling Apart at Fifty.” The timing of the marathon isn’t coincidental – I turn 50 a few weeks after race day.  I also celebrated my 30th birthday in the Big Apple, though admittedly I punished my body in a completely different, less healthy way on that occasion. There’s not a better place on earth to welcome in a new decade of life. In many ways, my fast approach to turning 50 isn’t so bad. I can still play tennis, ride a mountain bike and run marathons. I feel like I have more energy than I did at age 20. I even weigh less than I did back then as my diet has improved exponentially. But that’s when the enthusiasm for turning 50 wanes. I’m as forgetful as someone in assisted living. I may be thin but that doesn’t keep everything from moving south. And thank goodness there’s hair color to cover the gray. I think you get the picture. There’s another aspect of turning 50 that has been particularly problematic when it comes to my love for the outdoors and running marathons – injuries. Though I swore I’d never complain about my health like my parents did when I was younger, I’m doing so. Only more so. I’ve been training for the New York City marathon since July and never experienced so many health issues. At first, it was minor stuff like chafing and leg aches. Then in August, it progressed to tendinitis in my ankle – apparently the hills don’t love me as much as I love them. Normally, an injury like this requires R&R to heal, but given where I was in my “schedule,” I couldn’t afford to take six weeks off without skipping the race altogether. A friend recommended I spend a week bathing my foot in ice and loading up on Advil. Along with running flatter terrain, her suggestion has worked fairly successfully. Though the ankle is still tender, it’s not as swollen and painful as it had previously been. Before that injury was under control, I decided to go water skiing over Labor Day weekend – for the first time in years. I know what you’re thinking. Hamstring, right? Wrong. I successfully got up on one ski on my first try, skied all over the lake and let go of the rope when I was fatigued. Getting out of the water, I was saying under my breath, “Fifty, huh? Not dead yet!” Moments later, after Luke was jumping off the pier to swim, I leaned over to pull him out of the water. Just like I used to do at age 20 without bending my legs properly. That’s when I threw my back out. I spent the rest of the weekend wincing in pain, despite more loads of Advil. (As my friend suggested that weekend, they should make an Advil patch for old folks like us). Just as my back was improving, I re-injured it after playing too much tennis after my 20-mile training run. I never said I wasn’t stubborn. Notwithstanding further broken body parts, I’ll attempt to run my 22-miler next weekend, just in time to enjoy the treasured pre-marathon taper. But don’t think that taper will apply to my life, only my marathon training. After all, things may be falling apart at 50, but you can’t extinguish my ‘heart and sole.’ Start spreading the news……  ]]>

Melinda Hinson