When I wake up on Tuesday morning it will officially be over.
I will be leaving the only “age group” I’ve ever really known. Sure I have “aged up” this spring in the Triathlon to the Male 45-49 age group as USA Triathlon counts your age as of December 31 of the year you are competing in for race purposes, but to me that was just a rule.
45-49 was not going to be real to me until July 31st and it is almost here.
Being a year older does not bother me. I might feel differently when my personal calendar flips to 50 in another 5 years, but for now, I’m simply the “new kid on the block” again in my age group. I thought that as I reached 43 or 44 years old it would get harder and harder for me to compete as an age grouper. That the newly arriving 40 year olds would start to beat me at local races.
The reality was that I continued to improve as a runner over the past five years and I have set every one of my PR’s with the exception of the 10-mile in the last 12-18 months. I have not reached a new 10-mile PR simply for the fact that I have not raced the distance since 2010. I have little doubt that I would crush my effort from the 2010 Run for the Water this year if I choose to race the event. It may not work from a training perspective with the Houston Marathon falling on January 13, but it is just a matter of time for that PR. It will fall, and fall hard.
I think the reason that I have mixed emotions about my birthday on Tuesday is that I am going to miss 40-44. I came into my own as a runner in that age group and had some amazing breakthrough moments.
The Pittsburgh Marathon in 2008.
Run for Dom in 2010.
The NOCC Balance 5K in 2010 the day before Landry was born.
The IBM Uptown Classic in 2011.
The New York City Marathoning November.
The Shamrock Half Marathon last spring.
I covered more than 11,000 miles and crossed 56 finish lines in the age group, including going out a winner in my final event as a 44-year old at this June’s Holland Cornfest 5k. My fourth year in a row winning my age group in the event.
I know that 45-49 will be filled with a lot of great memories as well. It will also have a few bumps in the road and disappointments in store for me. That is all just part of the journey.
I just wanted to take a moment to reflect back on the last 5 years of racing and remember just how rewarding it has been.
I’ve got one more run tomorrow morning before my race age calendar flips. Better make it a good one.
Adios 40-44. Thanks for the memories.