Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's Hard to Admit You're Old

It's hard to admit you're old.

I'm not talking about looking into the mirror each morning and seeing a few more gray hairs, or understanding that you have children planning engagements and graduating from college. That seems logical, a normal progression in the circle of life that requires little more from me than acknowledgment. Yep, those things are happening.

Such events aren't entirely unfamiliar. They've occurred in my life, too. College - check. Engagement - check. Tentative first steps toward raising a family distinct from the one in which I was raised - double check.

It's the other stuff rushing up and grabbing me by the shoulders, vigorously shaking me to ensure I'm not day dreaming, forcing me to take action rather than simply walking around with a goofy smile on my face as time marches forward, me with it.

I bought a Townie bicycle yesterday.

For those of you unfamiliar with them, Townie is a model manufactured by the Electra Bicycle Company. What sets Townie bikes apart is that they are engineered for comfort more than for speed. Sort of like a man of a certain age who is typing this.

Getting past the marketing gibberish, the Townie allows the rider to place both feet flat on the ground due to a 23-degree riding position rather than the traditional posture where the cyclist leans forward toward the handlebars and pushes the pedals nearly straight down.

Think of it this way - on the Townie, I look like I'm cycling around with a stick up my ass. I'm more upright, more comfortable, and I pedal more forward than down, making for a less strenuous endeavor that relieves some of the ache in my back.

Which brings me circuitously back to my original point, which many of you may have forgotten by now. I'm begun actively making accommodations due to age.

I stopped running long ago due to shin splints exacerbated by hundreds of miles of combat boots slamming into hard pavement in the early hours before daylight lit the distant horizon. High school basketball knee injuries combined with being bowlegged channeled running into walking, and over the years flat feet and over-pronation have introduced plantar fasciitis into the equation.

I'm intimately familiar with the heel cushion aisle at the grocery, and I keep a frozen water bottle handy for those times when rolling the bottom of my foot back and forth on it bring some measure of relief after the stretching exercises and ibuprofen.

So walking becomes uncomfortable due to shin splints and funked-up foot tissue, which leads to biking, and a entry-level Trek model from a couple of years ago reminds me of twenty years of lower back problems, which is how I ended up at Roll asking questions about better options.

Staying active, in mind and body, is essential to longevity, and I'd prefer to longevitate, thank you very much. So I'm trying to keep moving while coming to terms with a physical plant that frankly has peaked in performance and is now slowly failing.

It makes me feel a little whiny when I think of people with significantly greater challenges. I only take three medications and sleep with a snorkle-dorkle-doo mask to keep from asphyxiating while I dream. Some of my problems are due to genetics, others from an unholy fixation with the occasional good cheeseburger. Rather than aiming high, the game is to not become too fat, or too sedentary, or so inflexible that I pull a muscle while reaching for my wallet.

That's light years away from when I ran with the wind in my hair (when I still had hair), ate what I wanted, drank that which tasted good, and saw my doctor only when my recurring ear infections became too painful to endure. Fancy, elaborate maneuvers have given way to a grinding ground game. At least I'm still here and playing.

My dad died in his early 80s, a ruptured aneurysm bringing the end quickly, with little warning. He used to joke that if he had known he was going to live so long, he would have taken better care of himself.

If only such wisdom didn't come with age.


  1. Is this the most yuppie model you could get??? Please tell me you got a basket for the front to carry your fresh bagguettes home each saturday....

  2. Actually, the Mrs. got a pretty little insulated device for the front of hers so that she can carry my water and Advil.


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