Posts Tagged With: aging

Conquering Everest

DCIM103GOPROThe crisp morning air crackled with anticipation. We had watched the forecast for two weeks and prayed the storms forecast for the morning of our ascent would pass us by. Now, under the mid-morning sun, my team chatted with nearly 200 other hopefuls waiting to begin our journey from base camp up the face of Everest.

The only thing standing in our way, an eight-foot wall of lumber painted black and emblazoned with the Tough Mudder logo. Everest is one of the Mudder’s signature obstacles — a twenty-foot quarter pipe sheathed in aluminum and coated with water and glycol just to keep things interesting.

But the monster lay in wait more than five miles down the course. race_702_photo_15314523Before we would get a chance to even view her, we would have to maneuver our team across and over obstacles designed to test our strength, stamina, agility, comraderie, and grit.

The Tough Mudder eats other obstacle courses for breakfast and barely burps. My son, cousin, baby sister, and I had trained for four months with our only goal to survive obstacles with names like Funky Monkey, Cry Baby, Pole Dancer, Beached Whale, and Arctic Enema.

Between each obstacle, a grueling tromp through soft sand, up hills, and across lakes of water and mud. The plan was simple. My son and I would set the pace for the run, and we would work together with our team and others to make it past anything else the Mudder would throw at us.

DCIM103GOPROThe Funky Monkey, Pole Dancer, and Beached Whale tested our strength. We blasted the Arctic Enema (imagine the The Ice Bucket Challenge on crack) by sheer will-power. Then we saw her, the orange and white megalith we had come to conquer. Amped on adrenaline, my son was the first to test Everest. A running start, a leap of faith, and the flying grip of the Mudder before him helped land Brock safely on the summit.

DSC_0195Then it was my turn. Stamina was no problem. My training had served me well. My legs felt fresh as they churned up the slope. One fourth. One third. One half the way up. Then, when if felt like I was losing steam, one giant leap. I was airborne. Time seemed to stand still as I soared above mere mortal sherpas. (It felt more graceful than it actually was.) I was going to conquer Everest.

Then, reality set in. My chest crashed on Everest’s peak. Air drained from my lungs, and gravity began to snatch my victory.DSC_0249 A hand clenched my elbow. My feet kicked and scrambled for grip on the slick surface. Two great heaves later, I stood atop my nemisis with no time to reflect. We still had two team members to help over the top.

Once we were all safe atop the peak, we paused for one triumphant moment, the sun smiling on our accomplishment. Then, like all who scale Everest, we headed back down. We were only half-way through our trek and still had a Mile of Mud to vanquish.

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Mounting Everest

o-MOUNT-EVEREST-BRAWL-facebookMy wife calls it my mid-life crisis. Lucky for me that it only cost me a few bruised ribs and not half of everything I own.

It started two years ago. The middle-age spread had taken seat in my trousers and refused to budge. I was looking for inspiration to get off my fat ass and do something about it.

That’s when I found it. The website looked innocent enough. Lots of orange and black. And people. Mostly  twenty- and thirty-somethings meeting the challenge and conquering their fears. And most importantly, having fun.

pic1Could I, pushing 50 years old, do something like that?

Through college and the early years of my marriage I had been a workout beast. Nearly 30 years later, with two bum knees and tendonitis in my shoulders and elbows from slinging a lens half my life, I was more fit for a hammock than Everest.

But boy, wouldn’t it be nice if I could.

For 2 years I started and failed every workout I tried. P90X — agrivated my tendonitis. Insanity — with these knees? Yoga — b-o-r-I-n-g. Kickboxing was great, until my knees gave out.

pic4And diet? Yeah right.

Then, 5 months ago, my cousin called about the same website. We would conquer Everest together. My son heard about our quest and begged to join the team along with my baby sister.

But how to get in shape? I had tried everything.

I scoured the web for what I would need to scale the behemoth. Bear crawls. Lunges. Pull-ups. Push-ups. You name it. Oh, and lots of running.

pic5I found local fitness guru Jesse Lipoma’s Bootcamp Explosion. With Jesse cracking the whip, I lunged deeper, squatted lower, and burpeed till I burped up last week’s leftovers.

And I ran. Oh, how I ran. 400 miles in 4 months.

Training with a concrete goal rather than something as nebulous as “losing weight” or “living healthy” made it easier. Doing it with my son made it rewarding.

In just 16 weeks I went from 182 pounds, 28% body fat, and a BMI pushing 30 to a whole new me. 154 pounds, 18% body fat, and a BMI of 24.

More importantly, I could run more than 13 miles at a stretch. I could dip my body weight until I got bored. Stadiums? Just tell me how high you want me to run.

I had done the work. I was ready to mount Everest.

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Your Warranty Has Expired

images-3Who knew the human body had a warranty?

We all know there’s and expiration date — a date when, like a jug of expired milk, our loved ones will unceremoniously pour our vital fluids down a mortician’s drain and toss our shell to the curb — but a warranty?

Mine expired the day I turned 49.

Until then, by body seemed to take care of itself. Dings mended. Squeaky wheels greased themselves. My engine refueled itself overnight. And I never left an oil stain on the garage floor.

That warranty ran out last month. Since then, my engine can never seem to catch up. My thermostat is either too high or too low. Dings now require a trip to the body shop, and my wife says I’ve developed a gas leak. I wouldn’t know because my ears are now defective and hair follicles clog my air intake valve.

At one year short of half-a-century, my feet smell and my nose runs. If I fill up with anything but high-octane fuel, I belch foul-tasting fumes for hours.

My joints squeak. My hoses leak. My muscles are weak.

Locomotion is a chore. When I rise, I grunt almost as much as when I fall. My springs quiver. And I list to one side when I walk.

images-4

I have to warm up the engine in the morning. I start slower, and take longer to accelerate. I rattle at high speed, and I must coast to a stop, but like my old tuck outside — the one my wife wants me to sell — there’s still a little fire in the old spark plug.

And as with that old truck, trips to the mechanic are more frequent and more costly. So today, I’m headed to the shop to have my valves checked, my engine tuned, my joints greased. I just hope the mechanic trims his nails before he checks my oil.

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