Today is my 40th birthday. I have passionately disliked most of my birthdays throughout my life, but I can confidently assert that I hate this particular one the very most. Despite what everyone has told me how 40 feels, how everything is so great and wonderful and birds land on their shoulders and they have their own theme songs as they skip down the street, I don't feel like celebrating, I don't feel happy or triumphant, and I certainly don't feel wiser and more comfortable in my skin. I don't feel like I know myself, and I certainly don't feel that I can face the world because I have unlocked the secrets of the universe.
I feel the complete and exact opposite of all of those things. For me, there is nothing great about turning 40. 40 is not the new 30. What a bullshit notion. 40 is just 40, and it is probably way past the halfway point of my life. I now have to think about things like mammograms and menopause, and I will probably be the proud owner of a goatee in the not-too-distant future. I have more gray hair on my head than most octogenarians, but at least I am not going bald - so there is an upside I suppose. I feel like I have made no impact on the world. Not that I ever knew what kind of impact I wanted to make. I don't feel "comfortable in my skin" - I hate that expression. In fact, I'm tired of trying to convince myself that I'm not completely dissatisfied with where the ball landed on my genetic roulette wheel. I don't "know who I am as a woman" because I still feel like a child inside my head, complete with all of the fear and trepidation of having to grow up someday. I am not wise to any big secrets, I've had no "A-ha" moments, other than realizing that I'm not turning into my mother when I look in the mirror but that I am actually turning into my father.
You get no gold watch when you turn 40. The day comes and it goes and there you are. 40. 4-0. Middle-aged and riddled with guilt about all of the things you didn't accomplish. All of those things that, as a child, you'd dreamt about achieving. As I sit here today, I am not an archaeologist, I have not written a book, and I did not win a gold medal in the Olympics. I am a mom, a wife, a sister, and a friend. All things that I do with varying degrees of success and failure depending on the day. I like to cook, I like to take photographs, I run and swim and try to cycle, and I write the occasional word here and there that less than .0000001% of the population reads. I am an average woman, with very little drama in my life. And I guess I'm ok with that.
But I am still pissed about being 40.
Monday, August 5, 2013
All I wanted to do was train for this little Half Ironman race without getting injured. Unrealistic? Probably. Too much to ask? I suppose. Inevitable? Yep.
My back, to put it bluntly, is jacked up. I've strained my lower back but good, and some days I can't even bend over. Ironically, I feel great when I race and workout. But the day to day activities of life are painful. It hurts to stand, it hurts to sit, it hurts to lay, it hurts to reach, it hurts to walk.
I know exactly how I did it, too. Such a rookie mistake. I got a new saddle for my bike and I didn't get it properly fit on my bike. In an effort to alleviate the complete and total numbing of my nether regions during long rides, I have turned the back side of my body inside out.
My husband installed my saddle. And no, I'm not blaming him, it's my fault. When it comes to pain, I don't like to complain, and I figured the sit bone pain was normal, along with the achy lower back. I figured it was just because I was sitting differently on the new saddle, and as my body adjusted, the pain would subside. Boy, was I incorrect about that assumption.
I awoke one morning after a long ride and I could not get out of bed. I couldn't bend over the sink to brush my teeth without having to support my upper body with my elbows. I couldn't turn, I couldn't do anything. And no, I didn't go to the doctor. That's another story for another day. But I did ice it, and I did spend several consecutive days doing agonizing yoga poses that weren't ordinarily agonizing. I felt 100 years old.
So I've suffered through a few bike workouts, I've even raced a short sprint tri. I felt great during and after the race, even the next morning. But the aches crept back in my back. And they haven't gone away entirely. As I sit and type this, my lower back feels tightly wound.
And now, smack in the middle of my half Ironman training program, I have missed several key workouts in an effort to get better and feel stronger, so that I can tackle the hell that comes in the back half of the training program, not to mention the 8 hours of hell that will come on race day. I took 4 days off from training, luckily during a recovery week. Yoga had become a daily routine again, and I realized that it never should have stopped being part of my daily routine. And ice is my new best friend.
I'm finding that my social media does little to make me feel better. Friends are training hard and strong, and I feel soft and weak. Others inadvertently post comments about getting out there and killing it and crushing it and getting it done, as if I don't want to be doing those things. I'm trying to tell myself that I have to live with this body for the next 40 years or so, and one damn race is just a speck in the grand scheme of things. I am jealous of people who can bend over and pick something up from the floor and not think twice about it.
But I am getting better each day. Those 4 days with no workouts (other than my yoga) were long and frustrating and riddled with guilt, but I am ready to face this week with mew eyes, a stronger back, and the determination to move forward in my quest to be half an Ironman. So if those 4 days off make me look weak, so be it. My body was screaming out to slow it down, take it in, and enjoy the ride at a bit slower pace. The finish line at Ironman 70.3 Augusta will be there, and so will I.