But it was Kevin Polin's story, "Pulling the Trigger at 40," and his quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon that most inspired me. Why? Well, first of all, you should know that I'm not 40. Heck, I'm not even 30. Not for another 6 days at least. Nonetheless, there was a lot I could identify with in Polin. Here's how he described himself:
Like Polin, I'm not a thin runner. I weigh in somewhere between 190-195 lbs. Ideally, I should weigh around 180-185.
As I approached my 40th birthday, I reflected on these questions and also on my so-called athletic achievements: over 30 marathons (12 in one year), two 50-milers, two 100-milers, half a dozen triathlons, and a few mountaineering expeditions. But looking back at my race photos, I noted that I looked distinctly overweight in several of them, especially in a couple of triathlon photos where a definite paunch was hanging over my tight triathlon swim trunks. Yes, I had done a lot of running over the last 12 years, but had I really given everything I could to training, even just for one race? I didn't think so.
. . .
I wanted to give everything I had to a training plan to see what this 40-year-old body could do. I had plenty of excuses to avoid the challenge, including three young kids and being constantly on the road with my consulting job, but I wanted to give it one big push since it occurred to me that a personal-best time is more likely earlier rather than later in your running career. For the first time in my life, I even changed my diet and paid attention to what I was putting in my body. Even more astounding: I moderated my pub drinking! I was a regular at one of Atlanta's well-known pubs but quickly discovered that I could still make appearances and say hello to everyone even if I limited myself to just three pints once a week. I even experimented with long runs and drinking and found that I could still do a decent early-morning long run after consuming four pints the previous night. Three pints was better, but five pints tipped me over the edge and made it difficult to even get up early enough for the run. So I made it a point to tell the barmen that four pints was my limit, and they and my friends began to respect my self-imposed limit.
I'm also busy with my working life as an attorney, and the pace is only going to quicken when our first child enters the world in about 6 weeks or so.
Also, I don't pay enough attention to my diet. I'm good about 2 of the 3 bigger meals I eat in a day. (I also tend to eat a couple of snacks at the office, but they're usually almonds or a Kashi bar.) While I tend to eat a healthy breakfast, I usually give in to temptation and gorge on junk for lunch or dinner. Way too much junk. I know it's counterproductive and it negates the time I put in at the gym or on the trails, but I do it anyway.
Oh, and I like cold beer and a nice glass (or two or three) of wine. Which is fine, except when imbiding takes precedent over training. I've definitely had those mornings, like Polin describes, where getting up early is hard enough, let alone running.
So what does all this mean? Am I going to give up Tommy's burgers and Mexican food? Am I trading merlot for prune juice?
No. Not a chance.
But I'm going to try to make a conscious effort to pay attention to what I put into my body and how it affects my overall physcial well-being. Maybe even drop a few pounds.
(Of course, I'm already making an exception for the annual golf trip with the guys planned in two weeks. But we'll just call that a four day, momentary lapse of reason.)
In closing, I'm reminded of a quote I read a few months back in Outside magazine:
"If it's potato chips in, it's potato chips out. You eat garbage, you're probably going to perform like garbage."