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What happened with me?  Age is just a number – but be careful.

20 years ago in 1997 I was playing squash at the Charlottetown YMCA. In the change room, three friends arrived in their run gear – laughing, having fun and were now going for a swim. I asked why. This was the day I became aware of triathlon, and the last day I played squash.

Shortly after that I registered for Spudman – an Olympic Distance Triathlon in Prince Edward Island National Park. My wife begged me not to. She thought I may die, or at best – just be way too exhausted to be any help with our two kids under three and our Sea Kayaking business.

I did the race – loved it, and since that day – 90% of my workouts have been outside in nature with friends/training partners.

Two years ago I decided it would be fun to qualify for the Worlds ITU race, and race with Team Canada.

A year ago, I qualified at Challenge Penticton taking 2nd place in the age group in a time of 6 hours and 30min. (37th Overall).

Over the past 20 years, I raced lots, had great training partners, and did pretty well as an age group athlete. I have loved training and racing was the icing on the cake.

I would wake each morning and excitedly get out the door to meet a friend each day for a swim, bike, run or ski. We varied the intensity of each of those works outs … and I loved them all.

I recently turned 50.  I’ve been cranky.  I approach workouts as a chore, and just get them done – ‘out of the way’.

Until this very moment, I was thinking it was just the aging process. However, I think I know what changed!!!  I’ve been training alone.  For whatever reason, I haven’t sought out regular training partners. I hate training alone!

Back to yesterday’s race – the  ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championships.

I dreamed of being on the podium … visualized running strong. I finished 9th in the age group and 77th from 821 (not including Pro’s) in a time of 6 hours and 47 minutes.  I was 16 minutes slower than last year.   My swim 4 minutes slower, My bike 1 minutes slower, my run 10 minutes slower – and my transitions 2 minutes slower.

I was a whole 37 minutes behind the winner of my 50-54 age group.  Even if I raced equivalent to last year – I would have been 4th this year & 5 minutes off 3rd. It was a strong international group – as I knew it would be.

I gave everything I had yesterday, and had the best day I could based on my training the past year. I’m grateful for my health and to have made it to the start and finish line.  It was great having five days in Penticton with not much to do but hang out with my wife and adult son, visiting old friends.

I’ve heard “Age is just a number”.  I believe this. However, I think we need to be aware what age does to us.  As kids, we naturally seek out other kids to play. As we age, we get selfish with our time, our plan, our own schedules.

For the past 20 years, the sport of triathlon has been about play. I’d meet friends and have fun. When it turns into Training … for ‘training’ sake, it becomes less fun. I recognize that the past year I ‘trained’ … without the play.

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