Stories like this make me want to be a better woman, or at least embrace the future with optimism. It’s the story of Kathy Martin, 60, record-breaking elite runner. Forgive my inelegant link, but it’s an inspiring story of a “real” person with a job and obligations in the day-to-day world who is just quietly breaking records in the master class of athletes.
I am not an athlete although I do enjoy and appreciate movement and have a special admiration for natural athletes and folks who are experts in their sport. Being the devious and lazy thinker that I am, I thought I might have a lock on becoming a “late in life” athlete. You know, those folks who get the biggest rounds of applause at 5K races just because they look “old” but can still pass the out-of-shape? My thought was that if I keep up with speed walking all I need to do is survive to age 70 and I’ll be the medalist in my class. Well, folks like Kathy Martin are making that harder for under-achievers like me to recognize my late-in-life athletic dreams.
Or maybe not.
Because we’re finding out that the human body is capable of incredible things, and if we put a some effort and energy into ourselves we have a pretty good shot at maintaining, or even improving, our fitness level. Our beloved Aunt Belle broke a hip in her 80’s and still went to physical therapy to regain her strength. Well, a funny thing happened from all the upper body work her did to regain her stability: she got a rock hard set of biceps at age 89! OK, so she couldn’t hear all that well, but she sure could hear us when we asked to her to “Show us your guns!” And she would proudly flex for us…. wearing her lovely short-sleeved “model coat.” For those of you who have no clue what a model coat is, please see below.
But there was another aspect to Aunt Belle that may have played a part in her stellar recovery. She was one of the most optimistic, forward-thinking (in both personal philosophy and in how she viewed time) people I ever met. Her apartment was always the gathering place in her neighborhood. And it has been documented that elders with social connections retain more of their cognitive skills and suffer less depression than solitary elders. All of these things give me hope that I can age with dignity and humor…. unless I start wearing these model coats. Well, at least I’ll have the humor part covered.