I listened to Dara Torres' book "Age is Just a Number" while driving to DC last night and while running on the Rock Creek Trail this morning.
Torres is world class, can't stand second place, and had performed at world record pace, including a trip to the 2008 Olympics. She's a figurehead for master's age performance, showing the kids how it's done at 40+ years old.
As most of us well know, this sort of output comes with a price. Two failed marriages, a five year battle with bulimia, and rampant emotional swings accompany Dara's resilient efforts to be #1 when most shunned her numerous comeback attempts.
There are some issues to address. First, this author's perspective comes from one who was the best, then attempts to return to the pinnacle. That's great for her, but what about the other 99 and some-odd-percent of us? I don't know about you but I never won anything. Think I got second in an age group one time, but that's it. So what drives my 53-year-old effort at endurance sport greatness?
Dara chose multiple coaches, Pilates-based resistance stretchers, and a spiritual medium as part of her aerobic arsenal. I'd come at it another angle; no coaches, no GPS watches, no striving for tenths or hundredths of a second increase in pace. I'm just an old guy trying to get 'er done for the past 27 consecutive years. It won't be about TV cameras or modeling contracts or a best selling book. Rather, I'll choose to search for the next mile of trail at an easy pace, or another bike ride off the Blue Ridge Parkway with my rather average friends.
We can't all be elite, but we can stumble forward for the simple love of doing it. For those who win, congratulations. For the rest of us, we can keep things on slow burn and still be champions in our own minds.