Pushing Past the Resistance to Aging

harriette500_0Something really uncharacteristic has come over me lately: I do NOT want to turn 50.  I’m having all sorts of resistance to it.  That’s not like me at all.  My usual take on getting older is that, given that death is the only alternative to aging, I’d rather age.

Reminding myself that it’s better than death is not exactly a huge endorsement of aging, but I’m also a big believer in Reality.  My resistance to the big 5-0 has taken a strong turn towards a refusal to celebrate.  On my 40th, I had a big party with tons of people.  For my 50th, I can’t wrap my head around that at all.  I can imagine dinners with a few friends, getting together with family, but not a festive bash where everyone comes to celebrate my big day.

Maybe that’s okay, but the more general mindset of resistance to aging is not going to do me any good. To push past it, I like to remind myself of a few things.

  1. I’ve never in my life been so physically healthy and fit.  I could easily take on myself at 20, 30, or 40 and out-perform her in a triathlon. That’s some kind of awesome. Go almost-50 year-old me!
  2. Harriet Thompson.  This is the 91 year-woman who just completed the San Francisco marathon. It took her 7:07:42, a new age-group record for the 90 and over group.  That’s another kind of awesome.  It’s not just amazing that she completed the marathon.  I think we underplay the accomplishments of those who are out there for longer.  If I can stay on my feet, running, for over 7 hours when I’m 90 (that’s if I make it to 90), I’ll be pretty satisfied!
  3. Age is just a number that doesn’t mean a whole lot.  On my 50th birthday, I’ll just be one day older than I was the day before. And that happens every single day anyway. So what’s the big deal?
  4. I’m not turning 50 alone.  Sam is going to check it out a few weeks before me.  Tim Horton’s, Canada’s favourite place to get coffee and donuts, was also born in 1964. So were Michelle Obama, Sandra Bullock, Courtney Cox, Courtney Love, Nicolas Cage, Keanu Reeves, Lenny Kravitz, Marissa Tomei, and most of the people I graduated from high school with.
  5. Lots of people have turned 50 before me and I always told them they weren’t old (and I even meant it).
  6. That quote about forty being the old age of youth, and fifty being the youth of old age.  I just love that.  It makes me feel like something new and exciting is about to begin.

When I think of all the things I wished I could do before I turned 50, there really aren’t many that I haven’t done.

And there are just a few left on the list, and I’m all on track to doing them between now and September 24th: an Olympic distance triathlon in Bracebridge in August, Burning Man, and another Olympic distance triathlon in  September. I’m warming up with two shorter events: the Cambridge Sprint on June 15th, and the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon in July.

Sam and I are writing a book about our fittest by 50 challenge, and we’re excited about the project. My bike skills are improving weekly. Today is the first day that I actually feel excited to go out riding the road bike, almost no trepidation at all.

Here’s my favourite birthday message to give to people:  older, better.  I’ll look forward to hearing the same on September 24th!


6 thoughts on “Pushing Past the Resistance to Aging

  1. Thanks for the post! Having turned 50 two years ago, I do understand the resistance (and for my part, dread and a bit of fear) about turning 50. As a woman, all I ever heard from my doctor was that after 50, I would be fatter, more fragile, and more at risk for… well, everything.

    Turns out, it’s just not true. I do think that menopause is a huge issue that people don’t talk about and the medical establishment simply doesn’t bother to address AT ALL. So we as active healthy 50-something women should continue to make noise about this.

    As for fitness, you have amply demonstrated that we can train hard, take care of ourselves, take on new sports (go, cycling Tracy!) and be happy.

    That’s the big message for me from this blog– there are pleasure and happiness and pride to be found in activity at 50. Go us!

    And celebrate however you like. You’re going to be 50– you can do exactly what you want!

    1. Thanks for this optimistic post, Catherine! Your wisdom and encouragement about cycling (as well as Sam’s) have helped a lot. You’ve also planted the seed for me to talk more about menopause. Expect a post or two on this subject over the next little while.

  2. I must say I was thrilled to turn 50 last year and looked forward to it (mostly). A few days before I had some anxiety but it went away and I had a blast with my dear friends and some pretty cool events. However, it was after 50 that the trouble started. Haha. Not to send a message of fear, but I had a very rough time for about 6 months. I began to attach a lot of the problems to being 50 (not sure that was true or just me trying to rationalize). At any rate, the worm has turned, things are looking up, I am enjoying the challenges and opportunities of life… now to turn 51 (yawn). Enjoy your 50th and find a way to make it special. You have earned it!

  3. I found becoming fifty much easier and nicer than crossing the big 40 line. For a start, everyone else really wants to celebrate that birthday with you. I was receiving gifts for nearly the entire year! Plus, I gifted myself very generously, of course!

    Like you, I am at my fitness peak and receiving all the generous bounty of that.

    I know life will not go on forever and I treasure my good health more than I ever did. So I am squeezing every second of fun and joy out of my time here now and I am so much wiser in how I do all of that.

    Go on. Look forward. You’ll love it and 50 will love you!

  4. Hmm, turning 50 was a lesser big deal than turning 40. I enjoyed turning 55 and ended up blogging about it with a metaphor I discovered what 55 can be.

    While it is true, an age is just a number, there is a reality that we do get frailer later in life. I noticed my partner who is 70, is slower cycling up hills. His riding style has less “kick” but he just cycles along still.

    So this why I have art, art supplies on the side for the past few decades, as well as my cycling.

    Over the years, each birthday…is a birthday, a day to acknowledge living ..in the now with a heart to learn and hopefully, love.

    Many happy returns to you Tracy. Look forward to reading about your Burning Man experience. Wonder if you will be in costume..

  5. I’m not close to 50 yet, but I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog. I will be 34 in September, 3 days after your birthday. I honestly had to sit down the other day and figure out how old I am. I feel like if you’re enjoying life it flies right by and it’s hard to keep track of how old you are chronologically. I still remember what it was like to do my first triathlon when I was 15 just as vividly as holding my first born child when he was born 3 1/2 years ago. Celebrate 50, never hide from it! That’s 50 years of AMAZING and I can’t wait to see what I can accomplish by then!

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