By Mavis Fenn
About a month ago, my son and daughter ran the Round the Bay 30 km road race in Hamilton. A brutal course, complete with Grim Reaper. I never could have completed it. As I stood at the finish line, I marvelled at those crossing: varied in age, gender, race, and from a range of provinces and countries. Some finished strong, some not so strong, and some struggled to make that final footstep. And my heart hurt as the waves of runners crossed the line.
I didn’t understand the heartache. I haven’t run for years due to a meniscus tear and arthritis in my knees. I have large velcro braces for both knees when I need to walk for some distance, and will be trying gel injections by the end of summer. My knees are always stiff, and frequently painful. I lift weights, do yoga, and Zumba Gold (now Aqua). I intend to ride my bike this summer. My life is still an active one; why the heartache?
After some reflection, I realized that I had not yet given up the idea of running. In the recesses of my mind was the idea that I might run again if: I lost some weight, got some heavy duty running braces, and so on. That won’t work for me due to other issues. I am not a runner now and I will not be a runner in the future. That’s it.
The wave of runners crossing the finishing line destroyed my “magical thinking.” I was experiencing grief. The death of an ability; the death of something that gave me great pleasure; the death of part of my identity; indeed, the recognition that I was dying. I have experience with grief. I let it into my heart and embraced it. Grief brought with it remembrance of my father who lived until 94. He did what he could as long as he could. When a door closed behind him, he opened another one until there were no doors left. I have closed the door marked “running” behind me. I have not paid enough attention to the doors in front of me, biking and walking.
Time to move on. I will always enjoy watching that wave of people crossing the finish line at the Round the Bay but I am content not to be one of them. I am working on my fear of bike riding, and slowly increasing my walking. Endurance is the key.
Mavis Fenn is an independent scholar (retired). She loves lifting weights, Yin yoga, and Zumba Gold. She is mediocre at all of them.
8 thoughts on “Aging Ungracefully (Guest Post)”
It’s stories like yours that keep me grateful for every day I can continue to run. Thank you, and I’m glad you’re finding other ways to stay active and engaged!
I love this post Mavis. There is such pressure in our culture to “never give up” “keep fighting!” “You can fix this” but the reality is, that isn’t always true. And it is a grief. We need to grieve so we can heal. We need to heal so we can focus on what we can do.
Hey, I’m with you in the knee brace and gel injection struggle! Contemplating partial knee replacement, speaking to a surgeon in August. I don’t like the pain. I makes me feel clunky and immobile. And I really miss soccer and running. And yet, I also think, “We should go for a bike ride sometime!”
Welcome to the blog, Mavis — I appreciate your voice! Thanks for sharing and being honest about this moment so many of us can relate to.
I used to be a gym bunny. I don’t miss working out per se, but I miss the body I had back then and how much younger I looked.
Wonderful perspective, Mavis! Thank u! 🙂
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