Out There: Turning 30

Illustration: N.C. Winters

Perhaps the so-called physical deterioration is offset by a major increase in common sense.

I have a 401(k), take a daily multivitamin, and can’t drive at night unless I’m wearing glasses. I’m in bed by 9 o’clock most nights and make it a point to watch the news every morning. Last night I asked my partner to confirm that, yes, I did in fact just pluck my first grey hair. It was an eyebrow hair, but a hair nonetheless.

It’s a far cry from the craziness of my college days, yet none of these changes fazed me. These have all occurred progressively over the last few years, their cumulative effects largely ignored. That is, until I sat down at my computer to register for 2013 races.

With a cup of coffee and a responsible breakfast (read: not cold pizza) in my belly, I hummed a happy medley of 1990s boy-band music as I registered for a half-marathon: Name: Susan Lacke. City: Phoenix. Shirt size: Small. Age on race day …

Holy <bleep>! I’m turning 30!

“Aging up,” as it’s known in endurance circles, can be scary. Crossing that threshold from the 25-29 to the 30-34 age group is rife with symbolism, all of which can be associated with some form of decay. Look at any magazine article titled “Fitness For Every Age” – the “helpful” tips typically begin with age 30, when there are suddenly special things to take into consideration: slower metabolism, lower back pain, loss of flexibility. And to top it all off, I should expect cellulite to give me a butt like cottage cheese. Sigh … that would have been handy to know before I bought a dozen new pairs of split shorts.

I’m not ready to read on and find out what’s in store for my 40s and 50s. The declining expectations with every decade are enough to send me back into the loving (if inebriated) arms of my 20s. Why can’t I find the fountain of youth in tequila shooters and 3 a.m. trips to the taco truck?

Like everyone else, I’m forced to embrace aging and its impact on my abilities. This is the 30s, a brave new world where one simply does not get through a marathon fueled by ramen noodles and blind optimism. I could learn a thing or two from my new contemporaries, the ones who work their grown-up jobs and raise families while still setting PRs.

It often seems women get faster with age. Take a moment to talk with a woman from an older age group. She may share a few nuggets of advice that leave you gazing in wonderment.

Perhaps the so-called physical deterioration is offset by a major increase in common sense. After all, wisdom comes with age. At 26, missing a race due to injury sent me emotional-eating an entire box of Oreos. At 30, I listen to my body so the injury is less likely to happen in the first place; if it does, I only eat six Oreos, like a responsible adult who fears a cottage-cheese ass.

Screw the notion of decay that comes with aging. Like cheese, wine and George Clooney, runners don’t get older. They simply get better.

This column first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Competitor magazine. 

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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