Happy Birthday

Last Sunday was my birthday. A big one – one that makes people say “age is only a number” to you. But I’m not worried about getting older. In fact as I see it I actually turned 5 years younger, and I’m pretty excited about that.
Last week I was the old guy in my racing age group – huffing and puffing and struggling to keep up with those “kids” in my AG. Now I am one of the youngest, and I expect that will pay off “bigly” in terms of winning races this year. I usually finished in the top 5 in my AG in the local races I’ve run and have frequently finished third, but it’s been rare for me to win. I’ve gone back and looked at finishing times of past races and found that a lot of my 3rd place finishes in my former AG would have been the winner in my new AG. For example, today I was supposed to be running the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis 5K, which I ran in 23:35 and placed 3rd in my old AG a year ago. The winner of my new age group ran it in 24:31, so theoretically I can run almost a full minute slower than last year and still win.
Unfortunately, I won’t get the chance to try out my new age group today because it snowed in Birmingham yesterday, and they freaked out and canceled the race. I would be more disappointed but I ran 13 miles in a Currier and Ives print instead, and I got another great birthday present this week when I was selected to run in my third NYC Half Marathon in March!
Birthdays have never really meant much to me in the past, but this one really affected me. It’s the first time I genuinely felt like I was getting younger and that’s made me more enthusiastic about the future. I owe that to running, a sport I am grateful to have picked up a little less than 5 years ago. Age isn’t only a number; it’s a way to get faster overnight without changing a thing about your running. That makes me happy.

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