I’m A Fabulous 50!
I’ve been looking ahead to 50 for a while, and have had some great adventures getting ready. Someone made a comment about getting decrepit as we get older, but honestly, I started having back problems when I was 17, and have had several flare ups over the years, so mobility issues aren’t aging issues for me.
Swimming has been a large part of my life over the past 30 years, increasingly so recently. Long before I knew how to swim properly, I could turn cartwheels across any lawn, bike around the block for hours, stand on my head to watch television, and dream of the Olympics. I loved learning to ride horses- Western, English, and bareback with just a halter and lead rope to guide a pony. Between bikes and my feet, and the occasional bus pass, I was able to get where I wanted to go long before learning to drive.
About a year ago, my big plan to Face Fifty took shape. I worked on getting more fit, swimming into the fall to prepare for cold water, hiking and jogging to gain strength and endurance, and paying attention to basic mobility strategies. When I spent all night watching the 2016 election unfold, I decided and declared at sunrise that I would spend an entire night doing something that would make me feel a sense of accomplishment by morning, and I promised myself that somehow, I would find a way to spend an entire night swimming.
As I did laps up and down Mt. Defiance, I felt stronger, and knew that any miles I could do on land would make water miles easier. I was able to tolerate a chill on my skin in air and water as long as I was warm inside. When I started building swim miles, I kept track of distance and pace. I had two big swim goals for the year— the 32 miles of Lake George, and a 10K swim in Hague. My training had to reflect both goals. I also made sure that my plan allowed for regular life. I still had to work, and I still have a daughter at home. A few workouts were cut short as the spring weather called, and I headed out to get my wee girl and I could find a playground, take a road trip, or go kayaking together.
As laps piled up, I recalled songs in my head. I listened to more music on the radio and CDs in the car than I had in years. I took note of the ages of some of the fabulous swimmers reaching their goals as I trained— women in their early 30s, and mid 60s. Goals were huge— oldest collective age of an English Channel crossing relay team, oldest swimmers to do the Oceans 7 challenge, someone attempting the first double crossing of the North Channel, someone trying the first Quadruple crossing of the English Channel. Even when some of those goals were not achieved as hoped when attempted, just knowing someone has the nerve to aim for them is amazing to see.
Of the seven who provided boat and paddle support for my Lake George solo swim, ages ranged from 20s to 70s. Not an old person in the bunch! What we all lacked in experience with a swim of that magnitude, we made up for in enthusiasm, willingness to work, and teamwork. We had our moonlit night, we had the best weather forecast that worked with everyone’s schedule, and we did it. Surprise storm and all. (Details of the Solo swim and Hague 10K in other blog posts— enjoy!)
So, I spent a solid year facing 50. Now I’m here. Where to go next? Because being finished isn’t an option. I have years of 50s to play with! Several challenges have wandered through my head over the past few years. Lake George may have seemed too enormous to seriously consider, but clearly enormous dreams can happen. I can go the distance. Maybe I’ll see what I can do with sprints, in terms of gaining speed. I’ve done triathlon, and may again. I’ve run the 5K Freihofer’s race, and may again. I miss riding my bike, and think about the Erie Canal trails that span New York State, and other “tracks to trails” options. Mt. Defiance is a nice hike for me, sometimes a few times at once. Will I look at other hikes? No reason not to. I once hiked up Santis, the highest peak in Appenzell- a canton in the Swiss Alps (2500M), with no idea what I was getting into. I had sneakers and a tote bag- there may have been yarn.
I’ll be looking for chances to coach or paddle for other swimmers with big dreams. I’ll also look at some of the really cool swims, both here in New York State, and further afield. In the Hudson: 20 Bridges & 8 Bridges. In Arizona: SCAR- an event of marathon swims in each of four lakes. In Pittsburg: Three Rivers Marathon Swim. In North Carolina: Swim Charleston. In Tennessee: Swim the Suck River.
Why would I stop now?
What’s on your list of adventures?