Midlife Crisis: Big Changes

A lot of men make a change or two when they reach the half way mark in the journey we call life. Some buy red sports cars and pursue online dating services for the younger gal. Others all the sudden start saving for retirement that they have neglected to think about for the first twenty years of their working lives, that is if they have a decent job and are not wearing a headset at a fast food joint wearing a polyester pull over.

For me it was time to get into shape and get healthy. A good mushing friend told me a couple years ago that a dog team will move much faster down the trail if they are carrying much less weight. Of course that was coming from a guy that weighed a buck fifty in all of his winter gear.

This spring I started to take things seriously. I have never had a health problem accept for a nasty allergy fit or two every week in the summer. My heart ticks good. My cholesterol is in check even though I hate oatmeal, and my blood pressure only is high when I watch stupid reality TV shows about Alaska.

We re-up’d our membership at a health club in town, one that will make you about a hundred bucks poorer each month, and I started going three nights a week. I started off pretty slow, mainly concentrating on cardio. There is no need for huge muscles where I am going and I’m pretty strong when it comes to lifting what needs lifted.

My goal was to finish a triathlon this summer. But before that my daughter and I competed in the Mud Factor event in Anchorage. It was a 5K with a mud pit or two and a bunch of obstacles. It was a blast.

The first triathlon was the Why-Not-Tri in Wasilla the second week of June. They call them sprint triathlons but for my first one it felt a lot longer than a sprint! We had to swim 900 meters in the pool (up and back eight times), a 10K bike ride and a 5K run. I finished ninth in my age group. Not bad but I was not prepared for the swim at all. I should have warmed up, but me being me, I didn’t and I had a cramp the first lap.

The second triathlon started on June 26th. It was called the Midnight Sun Lazyman’s Triathlon. This is the one that I actually turned the corner in my fitness goals and probably the biggest reason for the changes that come forward of my mid-life crisis.  In this event we had to record (on the honor system) that we swim 2.2 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. I have never cheated at anything and I meticulously recorded every step using my Ambit 2 watch.

Over the next six weeks I was at the gym or on the trails at least four days a week. I became a monster in making sure I reached this goal. I did and went over in every category by several miles. All for a t-shirt and medal.

Until right up to fall training with the sled dogs I will be competing (to me that means finishing) several more of these t-shirt events including a 5k run in Wasilla and then driving six hours to Soldotna to compete in another triathlon the next morning in September.

But all of this is not the biggest change in my mid life crisis life.

In May I decided I was going to stay on the trend of fitness and I enrolled in college (again!). I decided to enroll in a bachelors of science in physical education with a focus in outdoor leadership. Why may you say? I don’t know. Just because? No, I’ll show you, keep reading…

Over the coming weeks I immersed myself in becoming a college student again. I filled out paperwork for financial aid, took placement tests and had my previous college transcripts sent to U.A.A. To my dismay, only two of my courses counted toward the core classes and I have about 40 credits that are worthless but are showing up as electives. The reason? Most of my credits were on the quarter system versus the semester system at U.A.A. No problem, who remembers college algebra from 20 years ago anyhow?

In June I found out that almost all of my educational funding will come by way of the Pell Grant, which means I don’t have to pay it back! I guess there was a reason I paid my way through college the first time working the night shift at 7-11.

In less that three weeks I will be back on a college campus. Most with people half my age. Well, not really, most of my classes are online. I didn’t have that option in the 90s.

How is all of this related to fitness? Well, it is a physical fitness degree, hello! No, really, many of the courses require four season back packing, sea kayaking, ice climbing, swim tests and more. The end goal, in less than four years, for me to get a job teaching. What for? To save up for retirement like that guy I talked about in paragraph one.

So to come full circle: one has to be in good physical shape in order to work in a tough career for more than the next twenty five years (I will be 67 at that time) so that I can have enough in retirement so that Michele and I can rent and RV to that condo on the beach.

See its not a crisis at all. It is a well thought out plan with an end goal in mind. Isn’t that what life is all about anyhow?

Gotta run, I have a cord of wood that needs stacked and its not getting done by itself…