fitness · racing · running · training · triathalon · weight loss

Fittest by Fifty? Who’s the Competition? She is!

If it’s my goal to be my personal fittest by fifty, then I need to know where the bar is set. Who do I have to beat?

As Tracy and I have mentioned neither of us had particularly athletic childhoods. We have no sports trophies gathering dust or teenage personal bests to conquer. Thank God.

For me, there are two possible candidates for my competition.

Here’s contender number 1. Meet the me that resulted from my last fitness run-up to a significant decade. It’s me at 40. Say hello to Sam, circa 2004, photos below.  She’s in the yellow tank, wearing a number on her chest, no shoulder tattoo yet. She’s thinner and fitter than I am now, if we use running as a measure of fitness. I think she’s probably slower on the bike. She’s certainly not as strong nor as muscular. Shhh. But either way she’s not as fit as I will be at 50.

No thinness goals this time round. From 2002 to 2004,  I went from 230 to 160 lbs but while I stayed reasonably fit I didn’t manage the keep all the weight off. This time my focus is fitness. Though like Tracy, I’d also like to have a better fat-muscle ratio. (Read why here.)

I love these photos because it was such a happy day. I came 14th out of the 40 women in my age group at the Waterloo duathlon. What a terrific race. 5 km run, 40 km bike, 3 km run. Much better than the one I’d done before which ended with a 5 km run. Like all duathletes who turn out to be really be cyclists, I loathe the 2nd run.

A few other things about that day stand out.

I competed with my good friend Martin with whom I’d trained for the race. We actually sort of cheated, just a little bit. He was in the wave ahead of me and so when he’d finished he came back and ran the last run again, with me, for moral support.

You are not supposed to do that, no outside help allowed, and it’s true his nagging– “See that girl ahead in the blue shorts, you can pass her”–helped. If it makes you doubt my ethics, and I’m an ethics professor (geesh), it might help to know that I had no idea this was breaking a rule at the time. It was my second duathlon and it was all new to me.

The hills were also my kind of hills, rolling, steep and short. I could power up and over them without much need to change gears and I’m happy to aggressively pedal down them.

But I’m not sure running is a good way for to measure fitness now, two stress fractures later. That said, in a combined run/bike/run event, I think I could take her by 2014.

Contender number 2 is cycling me, me after 10 months of training with the Vikings Cycling Club in Canberra, Australia and a lot of racing: road races, time trials, and criteriums. She’s below in the blue and white bike jersey, looking very happy just having finished a race. I use a photo from that era as main image on this sight for inspiration. Those were very happy, and very fit, times. I miss the Stromlo Crit course and the weekly club level racing. Miss all the women cyclists and all of my friends on bikes, both there in New Zealand. Need to get more women riding here and I wish we had more recreational racing but that’s a  problem and a post for another time. I was very bike fit by July 2008 when I came home from Australia and I’ve got loads of good data to use in a comparison.

Maybe I’ll need to beat them both but we’ll see how my running holds out. This project would be seriously setback by another stress fracture.