Someone asked me the other day if I was having a mid-life crisis, because I’ve signed up for my first ultra-marathon, and I recently jumped out of a perfectly good airplane on purpose. My immediate response was that, No, I’m not having a mid-life crisis. (1) No matter how old I seem to get, I still often don’t think of myself as an adult, so it’s hard to even think of myself as “middle-aged”. But, being 37 now, it might be time to realize that I am in fact an adult (like it or not), and also I am middle-aged. (2) For me a mid-life crisis conjures up images on buying a fast sports car, and getting some young girlfriend to make me feel young because I’m feeling old. That just does NOT describe me.
As I thought further about whether I was in a mid-life crisis, I realized that I was actually having one a couple years ago. How else would you describe someone being 35, the heaviest they’ve ever weighed, trying to play racquetball and not being able to play for more than 10 minutes at a time without taking a break? At that point, I also had zero motivation to exercise. I didn’t even think of racquetball as exercise, that was just going and having fun with my brother. Around that same time I had looked into sky diving and realized I couldn’t do it because I weighed too much. I’m not sure if there’s a weight limit for jumping solo, but your first jump has (needs) to be a tandem jump. The clips that connect you to your tandem instructor do have a weight limit, and trust me, this is not a time where you want to try to fool yourself or anyone else into being lighter than you really are. I started to get pretty down, but then also realized it was a solvable problem.
My wife had been trying to get me to exercise since before we got married. So I decided to start doing a little running to see if I could get in shape. Within a week or two of my beginning to run, I had a conversation with the guy who is now my long run partner almost every weekend, Scott Smith. He had made a similar decision to try and lose weight and started running. This seemed like an amazing coincidence, but a great opportunity. Since neither of us were runners, we could help motivate each other, and run together sometimes. I believe we even made a pact that we’d run the 2010 St. Jude Half Marathon in December. This would give us the push we needed to keep running, and it was kind of a bucket list item to run such a long race.
Finishing my first 5K
Fast forward a week or so, and I was at a July 4th pool party at a friend’s house. I was talking to a few friends about an upcoming 5K, and a lady at the party started talking to me about the Memphis Runners Track Club. She mentioned their annual Road Race Series, and how it would be a great build up to running the St. Jude Half Marathon. Needless to say this was exactly what I think I needed. Basically 10 races, happening usually every other week, starting with a 5K, and ending with a half marathon just 2 weeks before the St. Jude race. Two 5Ks in July, two 5-milers in August, two 10Ks in September, two 10-milers in October, and finally two Half Marathons in November. As long as I continued running, adding mileage each week, and stay injury free, I’d be able to run the St. Jude Half Marathon.
Finishing my first half marathon
Needless to say, I’ve stuck with it, and have since taken it beyond the half marathon. To date, I’ve completed 10 half marathons, and 5 marathons. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve signed up for my first ultra marathon which will take place in September 2012. So, yeah, I was suffering from a mid-life crisis of sorts. But I faced it head on, found a new passion for running, and have a better and more fit life as a result.
Scott and me after finishing the 2011 Little Rock
Marathon (our first marathon)