19 Mar A new lease on life in my 50s
Finding my way back to an active boomer lifestyle
I never thought I’d be in the best shape of my life at 54. But the stars aligned in 2010. Some amazing people helped me reinvent myself as an active baby boomer, and the rest is history.
I was athletic from a young age. Riding bikes around the neighborhood. Playing softball. Doing every college intramural team imaginable. Teaching aerobics (in totally 80s legwarmers).
As a grown up balancing work and family life, it got harder to find the time and energy to be active. My weight became a huge source of stress. For a while I managed ok – keeping up with my kids, walking, doing workout videos and playing church softball. The muscle tone and pounds came and went with the latest diet and exercise trends.
Eventually I lost my way, straying farther and farther from my active roots. A spine issue brought months of debilitating back pain. And I found myself in a rut, both physically and mentally.
Thankfully, a very good friend and former teammate, lit a fire under my butt that eventually sparked a complete life change. She knew I was having a hard time with my health. And she suggested a women’s fitness and friendship group to provide direction and inspiration.
It was a female sprint triathlon training group called Tri It For Life, founded by a local Charlotte doctor, with a story similar to mine and thousands of other women struggling for the time and motivation to take care of themselves amongst the business of life.
A triathlon seemed scary. But I was desperate to get healthy, get moving and get off the couch. I got psyched up to sign up. I hadn’t been on a bicycle in 30 years, but they say it’s “like riding a bike,” right? It’s a short distance sprint triathlon and good for beginners. This was it. This was my chance to do something great for myself.
So, somewhere between becoming an empty nester and a grandmother, I became a triathlete. I met wonderful women of every age, shape and color. Together we trained for the local Ramblin’ Rose Women’s Triathlon.
And it gave me a new lease on life. I was one of the older athletes, but proudly held my own and was solidly in the middle of the pack. I was in great shape and healthier than I’d ever been in my entire life.
I felt empowered and excited about exercise for the first time in ages. Running was not my cup of tea, but I tried, and supplemented with power walking. Swimming was a source of fresh joy. And biking became my new love.
On the bike I was powerful and exhilarated. The speed and the adrenaline made me feel on top of the world. Passing other athletes as I flew up the grueling hill at the end of the Ramblin’ Rose biking leg was one of the best moments of my life.
Martin was intrigued and starting riding my bike. I told him to get his own. Then we started riding together and found a whole new side of our relationship. We explored Charlotte on two wheels, from beautiful old tree-lined streets, to up-and-coming artsy areas and brewery hot spots. We meandered through the beautiful countryside outside the city and saw things with fresh eyes. Here we are, seven years later, doing rides around the state, country and world.
It’s not always easy, but I work hard to keep taking care of myself. My goal is to stay active as long as possible. I’m not exactly Ironman material, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished as an active baby boomer. And I am forever grateful to my friend, Mary, and Tri It For Life for truly changing my life!
It’s never too late to try something new and turn over a new leaf.
And it’s not the distance, or the speed, or the pounds lost. It’s realizing you can do more than you ever imagined, at any age.
Carolina girls: Register for Tri It For Life
Dates vary by location. Triathlons are generally June to September, with training programs starting between February and May.
Charleston is already at capacity, but athlete registration is open for all three North Carolina locations until 12/22/17 or full.