Have you ever said you’d do something but then the years simply slipped away before you could get there? It can happen so easily – one minute you’re home with babies; the next you’re holding your newborn grandson wondering where the thirty years in between went.
When my fifth grandchild was born, I became possessed with the need to finish something I’d dreamed of long ago. Before I share with you what it is, I ask that you withhold judgement of this goal because you’ll probably think I am completely bonkers, or one of those “extreme” people who operate on a different time zone to you. I’m not like that, not really. I’m quite ordinary, in fact.
Some 38 years ago, when my own firstborn came along, this thought popped into my head: “I am going to run a marathon one day.”
Who knows where the idea came from, perhaps it was the aftermath of a long labour, the euphoria of being a new mother, or my competitive streak coming out. Either way, it didn’t last. Life rolled on and low and behold, I was 60.
It’s been a busy decade for me, with a new grandchild every year or so, holidays to plan, a husband to boss around. Then there was the diagnosis of breast cancer; minor, thankfully, but cancer nonetheless. I realised I wasn’t so invincible after all.
Out came the competitive streak – think you can knock me around, life? I don’t think so.
Next thing I know, I’m lining up to compete in my first triathlon. Then, just months later, I’ve booked myself in to do an ironman competition. By now, my family definitely thinks mum’s gone round the bend. Although I’d always been a swimmer, I’d never run more than a kilometre in my life, and was 100 per cent hopeless on a bike.
A triathlon involves a four kilometre swim, a 180 kilometre bike ride and then, to cap if off, a full marathon. Aside from the swim, it was next to impossible, definitely not the sort of thing a 68-year-old grandmother of five should embark upon.
But, you know what? I did it. And then I did it again. And again! I competed in the world championships and came third in my age group (65-69), finishing the race in 17 hours. Next year, I’ll go for gold in the 70-75 round, although there is some tough competition there and I’ll need to knock an hour off my bike time.
When people ask me why on earth I am doing this, I tell them about the last two miles of the world championships in Kona, Hawaii, and the tears that were pouring down my face as thousands of people cheered me on for that gruelling last run.
I also tell them this: “You don’t stop because you get old, you get old because you stop.
Go on, challenge yourself with something, however small, and DO IT – and then challenge yourself with something new again!
Are you inspired by this story? What goal are you working towards right now?