One year from today, I will turn 40. It's hard for me to really grasp that, even though I have been married to a man IN HIS FORTIES for two and a half years now. 40. Forty. FOUR-TEEEEEEE.
They say 40 is the new 20, but I don't agree. When I was twenty, I shared a bedroom with my little sister. When I was twenty, I drove a fifteen year old pick-up truck and spent my days painting and my nights slinging barbecue and catfish. When I was twenty, I had a long-distance boyfriend and a huge phone bill. When I was twenty, my mom gave me grocery money. When I was twenty, my boobs pretty much stayed up where they were supposed to, and I didn't have hair growing in astonishing and unexpected places. When I was twenty, I didn't have a mortgage. When I was twenty, amazing things were going to happen to me.
At (almost) 40....I'm different. I have a fifteen year old marriage that requires more care and feeding than my 20 year old self ever dreamed of, but brings me more joy and fulfillment than I imagined. I have two children that have taken more from me than I ever thought I could possibly give, and yet every day I wake up wanting to give them even more. I have saggy everything, and a hundred scars, both visible and not. I have a mortgage, more than one, and a staggering number of insurance policies. I haven't picked up a paintbrush in years, but I make art every day, in my own way. I have made a thousand choices that have brought me from then to now. Amazing things have happened to me.
My son is convinced that time travel is possible. Say he's right, and I can go back and tell my 20 year old self something. Anything. What would I say? What words of wisdom would I give her? Would I tell her not to break up with Adrian in the summer of 1996, because she's just going to get back together with him six months later? Would I tell her not to worry so much, because Mom beats cancer? Would I tell her to keep painting, to take her art more seriously? Would I tell her to exercise more, eat better, drink less? Would I tell her to move to coastal North Carolina, or to choose the mountains, instead? Would a tell her not to befriend that woman, or that one, would I tell her to spend more time getting to know someone else? Would I warn her against getting pregnant in the fall of 2007? Would I tell her to prepare herself for that loss? For all of the loss? All of the grief? Would I spoil the surprise of all of the joys?
My path has been what it has been, there's no going backwards. Only forwards, ever forwards, relentlessly, uncontrollably forwards. The path I choose now on this slippery slope to 40, to undeniable middle age, disappears just around that bend up there. I don't know where I'll be forty years from now, or what amazing things will happen to me between now and then....and even if that time machine appeared, I don't think I'd hop onboard.
What I can see, pretty well, is the next year or so. And I have big plans for it. A project, if you will, a bucket list item to complete before 40. And I'm sharing it with you, right here and now, so that you will hold me accountable.
I'm going to run a half marathon.
I know, that was earth-shattering, right? I am the first person in the history of EVER to decide that they need to set a fitness goal when they were staring 40 in the face.
Okay, so it's unoriginal. Be that as it may, it is, I truly believe, the most important thing I need to accomplish this year. As we've established, I am not getting any younger. My body is not as resilient as it once was. And I have those two kids, who I think are hoping I'll be around for a lot longer than awhile.
My goal is pretty straightforward. I began a Couch to 5K program this week, I've got two days under my belt already. In case you are wondering, YES, IT SUCKS. I'm told it will get easier. Actually, I know it will, because I've done it before. Hard as it may be to believe, in 2010 I ran a 5K. In July. In coastal North Carolina. Which probably explains why once that race was checked off my to do list, I never ran another step.
Don't believe me? Here's the unattractive proof:
|Yes, I normally AM tomato colored.|
So I am *fairly* confident that I can do it again. At least, that part. The 5K part. I will be putting myself to the test in early April, at the Oak Island Lighthouse run. And then I will probably do the Freedom Run again, despite the heat, just to stay on track. And another 5K at the end of the summer. And a 10K in the fall. And then get really, really serious about 13.1 miles, with the end goal of running the Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon in February 2015.
One step at a time. I'm not going to blog a whole lot about this project, except maybe the races. If you want to follow my progress, I will be posting on Twitter and Instagram, but I promise I won't clog up my blog or Facebook with workout reports, so you can consider yourself fully informed if you like to avoid those kinds of posts.
There's one more thing. When half marathon time comes, I'll be running for Team Fox, and asking for your support. Because....well, I wouldn't go back and reassure my 20 year old self that Mom beats cancer, and I wouldn't go tell her that she'll spend the months leading up to her 39th birthday struggling to deal with Mom's Parkinson's diagnosis, either. I especially won't tell her that, because my 20 year old self would certainly be devastated, knowing then only that Adrian's mom was suffering horribly from the same disease. My 39 year old self knows that great medical advances have been made in the last 19 years, and tells herself every day that Parkinson's is not a death sentence. She tells herself. Every day.
So I'm going to run. Run right into 40. Because I can, and I should, and I need to. Because someday, sooner than I want, another forty years will have gone by, and I'm not going to be able to.