Thursday, March 25, 2010
It’s Never Too Late
I’m not sure where society’s view on aging comes from. I constantly get letters from customers asking if they’re too old to do one of our programs even when they’re younger than the program’s trainer. I’m told that I’m crazy to attempt the things I do at my age. Yet Lebron James’ entire life could fit between me and a woman profiled today in the Orange Co Register, 73-year old Ironman triathlete, Mickie Shapiro.
Shapiro’s early life wasn’t much of an indicator of where she was headed,
Like many women of her generation, Shapiro grew up inside a fence of expectations. She was expected to play safe games like "Red Rover," go to college, meet a man, devote her life to raising children and, later in life, play with her grandchildren.
She followed this path until her 40’s. With her kids in college she headed back herself, earning two masters degrees. She began running with one of her kids and it became a passion. When she saw Julie Moss famously crawl over the finish line at the 1982 Ironman she was inspired.
"I'm going to do a triathlon," she promised herself.
Since that day, Shapiro has won eight Ironman races in her age group, come in second three times in her age group in the world championships and won the half-Ironman world championships twice.
We need reminders like this to clear our heads of just what society expects of us, which is pretty much that we do nothing. Work at a job you aren't passionate about, raise some kids, watch some TV, exercise vicariously by watching other people play sports, eat a lot of bad food, take some drugs, and anonymously fade away has superseded hard working Horacio Alger as the American ideal. And why? Where did this attitude come from?
Think about aging. Children soak up knowledge like a sponge: learning languages in months a trigonometry in less time them most of us spend watching our favorite TV show each season. And, okay, their bodies are developing and are naturally more attentive. But our brains still work. Our bodies still function. At 40, we’re barely half way to our life expectancy. How can 50 be the year we qualify for retirement benefits? Certainly the human body wasn’t set up to improve for 20 years and spend the next 50 in a state of decline. Somewhere along the line someone has fed us fed us a crock of shit. And for some unknown reason, we’ve slopped it down like chili cheese fries at a Colts game.
There are 24 years separating me and Mickie Shapiro. Enough time for Lebron to grow up and dominate an entire profession. Enough time for her to earn two masters degrees, finished a bunch of Ironmans, and win some world championships. The questions we should be asking ourselves isn’t when can I retire or am I too old for this? It’s what can I get done in the time I have left?
photos, except moss in '82: LEONARD ORTIZ, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER