As the title suggests, this is the musing of a fitness pro on the recent – actually, today’s – graduation of his second daughter, third child, and last child from high school. with one already living on his own in Los Angeles, another having just completed her first year of college at Bates, and will soon to be going off to college at Occidental. I can honestly say that, at least at this level of life, I’ve completed my first marathon – the marathon of getting your kids out of the house, out of basic schooling, and on to the path they now have the authority to take and make for themselves. It didn’t kill me, and I’m not so sure it’s made me stronger, or a better person, or a better dad, even. It has provided a sense of accomplishment, joy, and pride that; even if whatever control or influence I once may have had in their lives was a self delusion; I have done that part of my life. From here on out, as I’ve noticed with Lydia, the rising sophomore, I’m dealing with adults, capable of making enough of their own mistakes and taking enough responsibility for their choices and actions that somehow I am simply the dug out, the bench, the locker room, or the whirlpool of their lives: there to be where they can return to rest, relax, contemplate, chill, recover and, if they so choose, get some advice, guidance, and support. This first marathon is over.
As in keeping with the themes for this blog – fitness, exercise, and health – my inspiration and messagestems from this article in the Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/is-marathon-running-bad-for-the… marathoning, or long distance training of any sort – cycling, skiing, etc – fulfills many purposes in the lives of those who undertake its challenges. Longevity of life should not, however, be one of those purposes for most folks. That is, getting in shape to do these kinds of events is a purpose of its own right. Competing is for a purpose that goes beyond the getting in shape. Longevity, as compared to well-being, stamina, weight -management, fitness, or lifestyle choice (leaving a smaller carbon footprint?), is not a guarantee when one assumes the rigors of training and competing in most any sport but maybe and especially of an endurance sport. Not that you may not live, really live – with vigor, adventure, challenges, accomplishments, etc – a long time. It’s just that perhaps the only people who might expect to actually live longer may be those who have a condition or disease or precursor to either that can actually be altered by the training and even the competing. Thus, if one is very overweight and developing or develops aspects of heart disease – hypertension, high cholesterol, pre- or type 2 diabetes, for example – then assuming a very active and eventually very vigorous lifestyle can not only reverse the dowward course of one’s health but also enhance one’s likelihood of living longer, not just better. Of course, there’s no real way to ensure that any days, weeks, months or years are a result of said training or competing; with modern medicine being so capable of keeping so many alive for so much longer than in previous eras, who can really know if it was the running or the luck of the draw?
That’s the message of the article above: we are all going to die, and there is a good chance someone is going to die watching a marathon, and maybe someone actually running a marathon will be doing so on his or her day to die. The difference is in what many of us, esp those of us who do stay fit via exercise, will attribute to a higher quality of living – of having had more years of life during the years one’s been alive.
How does this relate to watching my daughter walk across the stage, getting her diploma? Well, I’ve worked my ass off for years getting her to this point. I did it not to win any medals, any honors, or rewards beyond the simpe reward of watching her and my other children grow up to become who they are whenever they decide to stake that claim. I’ve done the training, the competing, and now have finished the first big race of parenthood. The rest is theirs to complete. Yes, I’m going to be a part of it, paying bills for at least 4 more years, but I’ve done my marathon. time to hang up those shoes, time to grab a cold one, and time to be happy and proud that I’ve run the race and they have won.
Just four more years and I can say I’ve run my second marathon……..