I didn’t need to look up the etymology of the word “milestone” to guess that they were originally, quite literally, stones placed to mark miles along a road. (But I did. They were lol.)
I hit a milestone last Saturday when it was my 50th birthday, but it was only yesterday that someone used that word to mark the event. It physically takes you back a bit….not like a jolt of electricity, more like an awkward pause as your brain wrestles with a problem.
Fifty? I’m fifty?
That can’t be right.
There is no possible way that is correct.
I don’t know what age my brain thinks that I am, but it most definitely does not start with a five!
That brain hiccup happened once more, this time on the actual day. We were standing in the kitchen when my mom pulled out a 50 candle. I’m not usually a slow processor, but there were several long blinks as I stared at the number.
Oh my god, I’m fifty.
I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, there is always someone who is going to say, “Oh I wish I was still <that age>” and someone who is simultaneously thanking their lucky stars that they aren’t <that age> yet.
I think the best comment I got was from a colleague who said, “Didn’t you turn 50 two years ago already?” I’ll be honest, that one did hit like a jolt of electricity!
For the most part, I don’t put a lot of stock in these milestone ages, or obsessively count any age for that matter. There were multiple years in my 30’s that I’d have to do the math to remember how old I was! I think age is a social construct that was invented at some point to celebrate the rare accomplishment of growing old. It’s just a number and doesn’t define who I am or what I am capable of doing.
I have not taken the number for granted either. My cousin Lisa, who I have written about a lot here, is never far from my thoughts or the fact that she did not get to see her 49th birthday, let alone her 50th.
So I make short work of any commiseration I might be feeling about the number and carry on.
I’ve also written frequently here about running. It’s a flexible metaphor that can apply to a lot of topics! The first time I told someone about my goal of running a half-marathon was four years ago. It was scary to say it out loud, but sharing that made it seem more believable. But it seemed like every time I would get closer to pursuing it, I’d end up with a different injury that sidelined it.
Or a global pandemic would hit and throw everything off track…
This past year, the goal of running a half-marathon became something I was ABSOLUTELY going to do before I turned 50. Because I can guarantee that each year that passed where it didn’t happen, it was only going to get harder and harder.
Even up to a few weeks ago, despite having signed up months in advance and committed myself to the distance, I wasn’t sure I could do it. The same chronic injuries were popping up and creating new ones in their wake.
If you know me at all, I am a bit stubborn. I don’t like to quit. And although I am getting better at it, I sometimes find it difficult to admit when I need help. . .but I did. . . two different chiropractors, a podiatrist, and a couple visits to Brainsport for shoe advice later.
Sunday morning, the day after my birthday, I got up and ate breakfast at 4:30am. I tried to sleep a little more on the couch, but finally gave up and got dressed. There’s not much to write about the run itself. It’s one foot in front of the other. Repeat.
Because I’d gotten help (and did the damn stretching exercises) I was almost pain-free. I didn’t have to walk. I didn’t quit.
I did have to do the last 7km right into a 30km/h wind and it felt like I wasn’t moving at all, but I was!
Two hours and fourteen minutes, and 21.1km later, I had done it.
Running a half-marathon was a milestone that happened because I had set a goal, committed to it, made a plan to achieve it, problem-solved my way through obstacles and injuries, and then slowly built up my stamina to being able to complete the distance.
Fifty was a milestone that happened because a certain amount of time had passed. A half-century’s worth of rotating around the sun.
They were very different.
And they were both important.
I hope I do get a half-century more. I’m starting a new list of milestones to hit.
And finishing a full year of teaching in a pandemic is top of the list. Hang in there everyone!
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