Blog: The Fitness Zone
When I was young, modelling myself on my elders, I imagined a kind of pipe and slippers existence when I got older.
By "older", I meant the age I would be when the new century came around (if I lived that long), by which time I would have been 51.
How things change. When it comes to exercise, the expectations of my father's generation are not those of mine.
Fitness is no longer the domain of the young. My most active years in triathlon started when I turned 55, when I could finally spare the time to train and could find the money to travel (even if it was an extravagance).
I never did very well, but race goals gave me the incentive to continue a vigorous exercise programme, provided many good memories and introduced me to many fine people, who became my friends.
It was inspiring following the various Nelson triathletes all over the country last week in long distance races.
No matter what their position in the field, memories of the preparation for the event and the experience of doing it will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
In the tight-knit Nelson triathlon community, people support each other hugely and when they leave this region, we still claim them as ours.
The holy grail of triathlon is the Ironman World Championship at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
You can't just enter, you must earn your place among the more than 2000 starters at one of the qualifying races around the world.
Birth is an accident, but as far as I'm concerned I had all the luck, being part of the baby boomer generation.
My parents' generation had serious things on their minds - war and the aftermath loomed large.
Sport was something you grew out of. Even rugby players were old by 30. Besides, there weren't many sporting options then.
I grew up in the land of milk and honey, learning to play rugby with the old Rival club down at Trafalgar Park, and learning to swim at Riverside Pool, before moving on to a multitude of places in New Zealand.
At high school in Whangarei, I discovered that I could swim and run quite quickly, but in those days few people utilised those skills once they left their schooling behind.
Graeme Sellars and Stuart Hague have been runners for decades. Yvonne Shaw has been a race walker, who recently turned to running and completed her first marathon in Christchurch in June.
A year ago, the trio decided to test their boundaries and complete a half ironman. None of them have been swimmers or cyclists, so it's been a steep learning curve. In two weeks they'll be put to the test in the January 4 Tauranga Half Ironman.
As their training has progressed, they've learned a lot about the sport of triathlon and the people within the vast triathlon community.
"I used to look at half ironmans and such on TV and thought it was just for elite athletes, but now I know that it is mainly just average people getting out of their comfort zones and giving it a go," says Yvonne.
They've found triathlon training a more complex business than simply training to run, and all of them have taken on coaches, with Yvonne and Graeme getting guidance from Nige Burgess, and Stuart following the advice of Jon Linyard.
Sunday morning, 8am. Things weren't all that promising.
I was sitting on the boot sill of my car, a wonderful 1993 Toyota Sprinter wagon. For those in the know, that's a Japanese import version of a Corolla.
Who'd have known I'd still have it after all these years. I'd sell it, but it's not worth much, even though it's only done 120,000km. That statistic alone means it's going to go for years yet, even though the paint is starting to fall off.
My frugal upbringing means I won't be able to part with it until the wheels fall off - I could be 90 by then.
None of that was going through my mind at the time. I was too busy shivering.
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