Old bitch. New tricks.

I’m turning 40. Other posts have mentioned that I’m turning 40. It’s come up a number of times, the occasion of my turning 40.

So anyhow, I’m turning 40. It’s been on my mind a bit. I’ve been considering whether some pursuits are best set aside, for example, marathon running. I’ve been running for 20 years and I’m likely near my mileage limit. My body is noisier when I move, with new cracks and creaks, but I want to run for another 20 years. I’ve been cutting back on the miles and mixing up my routine to spare my joints.

I fear sliding toward complacency and laziness. I’ve had thoughts like, “Eh. I’m almost 40, entirely a ‘formerly.’ Why all the effort? Pass the ice cream and elastic waist pants. Let gravity take its course. It’s only natural.”

That bad attitude is contrary to my type-A, over-achiever nature, but this milestone has caused me to look back too much and focus on what I’ve lost.

A recent article in the Science Times gave me the ass kick I need: Diana Nyad was preparing to swim across the Florida Straits, from Cuba to Key West. She would cover 103 miles in 60 hours. She would never leave the water. She would not use a shark cage. Diana attempted this swim once before, when she was 28. That was in 1978. Diana is 61 this year.

Sixty-one years old. More than 20 years older than I will be soon. Swimming non-stop in shark-infested waters for almost three days. And here I’m thinking of hanging up my running shoes because of noisy knees?

Hell no.

Yes, many things in my life have come to an end. Many I’ll miss: the ability to stay awake beyond 9 p.m. Non-visible leg veins. The optimism of life seeming endless. My fertility. Anticipated motherhood.

Others I will not miss: crippling self-consciousness about inconsequential things I can’t control (farewell hours lost battling unseen body hair). Corporate America and cubicle culture. The drive to please everyone but myself. (News flash: People will always complain and I will be miserable.)

I might not have the energy of my younger years, but I have more strength and unstoppable determination. My life is beginning all over again in many ways. The changes scare the hell out of me, but this boricua does not back down.

I’ve set new goals for myself, to shake things up and keep life interesting. The first one requires me to hit the pool weekly. I don’t plan on swimming shark-infested, open waters (yet), but 40 is too old for the doggie paddle to be my best stroke. This mamacita is ready to learn all kinds of new tricks.

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