Some of us see turning age 60 as a milestone that marks the beginning of the end and bemoan our lost youth. A big challenge for us -- an adventure even -- is to get across the room to our chair before the paper plate embarrassingly crumples under the weight of our very generous servings of birthday cake and ice cream. As for goals for the year, we may have at the top of our list, getting to more of our grandkids' soccer games, hitting the links more consistently, and losing a few pounds (one of our more unrealistic goals).
Others have more ambitious goals to help celebrate this landmark birthday. Tiburon, California's Vito Bialla definitely belongs to the second group of folks. In 2008, Vito celebrated 60 years on planet Earth by taking on three major athletic challenges. First, however, he warmed up with a few smaller races, such as the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in June. In this race he swam 1.5 miles, biked 18 miles and then ran another 8 miles -- all in an impressive 2 hours 50 minutes 49 seconds.
Then it was on to a little more challenging events. In July, for starters, Vito tackled the 135-mile Badwater ultra-distance footrace across Death Valley where summer temperatures consistently hit 120 degrees Farenheit. Besides the running-shoe-melting, blister-forming heat the runners have to contend with, there is also the 13,000 cumulative feet of vertical ascent and the leg-pulverizing 4,700 feet of descent as participants cross a couple of mountain ranges. In all, these athletes (boys and girls, can we say masochists?) go from 282 feet below sea level at the start to the 8,360-foot elevation at the finish -- the portal of Mount Whitney. Vito, competing in this young athletes' challenge with its most taxing of conditions, completed the run in 41 hours 48 minutes, well within the 60 hours allowed for completion.
Needing to cool off, next Vito headed to England for a little late-summer swimming. There he captained a 5-swimmer relay team that double-crossed the English Channel -- swimming in relay fashion approximately 44 miles. All his team did was beat all the competing teams, turning in the fastest time of 2008.
Not content with the accomplishment of these two outstanding athletic feats for a man or woman of any age, this 60-year-old capped his year off with the Ultraman Championship on the big island of Hawaii in November. The Ultraman consists simply of swimming a mere 6.2 miles in the ocean, biking 261.4 miles and running a double marathon (a 52.4-mile footrace). This mega triathlon makes the extremely challenging Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike race and 26.2-mile marathon run -- 140.6 miles total) look like child's play in comparison. Vito completed the 320-mile, 3-day stage race in 33 hours 27 minutes 35 seconds.
Vito Bialla, entering his seventh decade, successfully completed three of the toughest races on the planet in a single year. You may be wondering why this very busy executive with two businesses to run and three children to raise with his wife, Linda, would put himself through such torturous races at what some would call an advanced age for an athlete. First, it's not the constant struggle mile after mile that we might envision; often, during a long swim, bike ride or run, a well-conditioned ahtlete, such as Vito is, can get into a "zone" or "flow state" where the body goes onto auto-pilot, the mind is elsewhere and as a result, there is very little perceived effort. This is a very pleasant state of being, what has been termed "runners' high," among other descriptions. During these times there is no struggle or cumulative exhaustion experienced.
Second, the sense of accomplishment and relief at the end of an arduous, taxing race can have the participant on an emotional high for days or weeks afterward. Further, having done what most believe to be impossible or too dangerous or just plain foolhardy, is very mentally and emotionally rewarding. It's not, in other words, necessarily, just one torturous mile of pain after another, as we might imagine. Vito Bialla, at age 60, is enjoying these ultra challenges, these exciting adventures where he is breaking ground for those of us with a little less tread on our "tennies." The question is: What could you do that would be more rewarding -- more exciting than what you are currently doing? Would a little out-of-the-box challenge, a new, exciting adventure spice up your life, as it has Vito's?
And now I'd like to invite you to claim your FREE Fitter After 50 / Fitter for Life e-newsletter when you visit http://www.FitterforLife.com
From Ed Mayhew -- the author of Fitter After 50, Fitter For Life and other books, CDs, videos and articles on how you, too, can make falling apart as you age merely an option -- NOT a mandate. Why not make the rest of your life the BEST of your life? http://www.FitterforLife.com and http://www.amazon.com/Age-Blasters-Steps-Younger-You/dp/1598589083/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276528674&sr=1-1 (click here for paperback or Kindle editions of AGE BLASTERS)