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You've been served

Training with the Priority Health Run Camp has been just the inspiration I needed to face the impossible: 26.2 miles and turning 40.

You're 40?

Since I turned 40, I've decided to run a one-woman revolution by completing a marathon in 2014. I refuse to have a mid-life crisis or a pity-party. Aging is not a crime but a blessing. Each mile I train reminds me of how amazing our bodies can be and what can be accomplished through perseverence, stubborness, and perhaps a bit of crazy. Sure, I fantasize about a Caribbean vacation, but what's that compared to completing 26.2 miles?

The Rapidian is proud to present the winning essay from our Gazelle Girl writing contest. Amy Lardie will be racing in this spring's Gazelle Girl, and we wish her the best of success!

As of January 2014, I became a member of the 40-44 year old demographic. This has not necessarily filled me with excitement. People lie about being 39 for the 10th year in a row. Wrinkles are to be defeated with the latest cream. Gray hair—you don’t really see it anymore. Women must be seen as youthful and sexy regardless of their age, not because of it. Aging has become criminalized, and now I’m guilty.

So, I’ve decided to put 40 on notice. I’m going to run my first marathon. True, most people have a party or take a trip to celebrate turning 40, and I’m choosing to abuse my body mile after mile over the next few months. While this may seem unconventional, I’ve got my reasons.

I’m running because I want to challenge myself. I’m going to do something difficult, terrifying and exciting. I’ve run a half-marathon, but I’ve yet to complete a 25K or a marathon. This means I will need to set goals and stick to them. This means meeting my running group when it’s snowing and 14 degrees outside, sliding through the slush. This means dragging myself off the couch to shred my core with Jillian Michaels, all for that 26.2 sticker on my Jetta. It will take commitment and perseverance, qualities that are gorgeous whatever your age.

I’m running because the 10:30-11:30 group is waiting for me at the Y. In the past, I’ve tended to run by myself. All those lonely training miles had me doing battle. I found myself running with a chorus of negative voices in my head. “Your butt probably looks goofy in those running pants. Seriously, a 40-year old in spandex? Gross.”

After joining the Priority Health training group, I’ve realized that I don’t have to do battle alone. First, I’m not the only one in spandex, so there’s safety in numbers. Second, I now have a support group on the road with me. I may get passed by another runner, but when I do, she often has a word of encouragement. “Keep going. Good job.” I take a deep breath and find a few more miles, silencing the negativity that often swirls in my head.

I’m running because I’m angry at being indicted for aging. I’m angry at myself for buying into the wrinkle-free, taut, fake images in the media. Victoria's Secret models sashaying down a runway, in angel’s wings mind you, shouldn’t define beauty. True beauty is found in kindness, curiosity, laughter, achievement. It is not in how you look but who you are. It is not in what you wear but in what you do. Through training, I’m starting to view my body not as an enemy to be loathed but as a vehicle capable of amazing feats, accomplishments more profound than mere sexiness.

Mostly, I’m running because I want to celebrate 40 as a milestone. I’m running towards a better version of myself, a version that is more accepting of my body and its capabilities, a marathoner’s body. So 40—you’ve been served. Tell your friend 50 I’m coming for her, too.

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