By Calvin W.
When I hit my mid-life crisis, I knew it was time to do something different. Like those who might also be prone to them, I’d been living my life in a conventional, painfully routine way and I had to shake things up. I was at a resort on Hainan Island at the very bottom of China and it was the 4th of July, 2012. I walked out onto the beach…never looked back and…
Wild and crazy, huh? Actually, I’d done a little running a couple of years before for a few months, was with my tennis-playing young Turk nephew on a family trip, and only did 2½ miles, but it really was pretty radical for a guy who’d done little more than play a little Ultimate in college.
Upon my return home a few days later, I found a route in the neighborhood up the street from my house and started running a one-and-a-half mile loop a few days a week—close enough to home to bail out if an injury struck or if I just ran out of steam. When that didn’t happen and I started increasing the mileage using a few daisy-chained 3 mile loops I mapped (mapmyrun.com), I really cut loose and started fantasizing about…
Nine months later (I know! Nine months, start to marathon!), I finished the 2013 Garden Spot Village Marathon in Kinzer, PA, in 4:24:22. A personal record as the old running cliché goes. Not terribly long after I started I discovered the Wednesday 6:30 p.m. running club at Jenkintown Running Company. There I really cut loose and started…
Craft beers, to be specific, IPAs to be precise. Yep, it turns out the group was a drinking club with a running problem. With pizza when the numbers are right. Ooh, hold me back. What was great about the JRC RC was the motivation of meeting people who also wanted to move. And it turned out to be a really likeable group of peeps. The pizza and beer helped.
The group’s been around for years, but we really upped the ante by organizing with the help of Drew, a store associate. One order of business was to adopt a real name. You heard it here first, folks, we’re now the JRC Growlers. We’ve historically started at 6:30 p.m. and we pace from 10 minutes and easier up to a blistering 7 minutes per mile for the overachievers. We typically run 6.5 mile distances. Join us and help shape the future of the Growlers!
For my longer Saturday runs, I graduated from running solo to enjoying the companionship of the Shawmont Running Club (check out Facebook) most Saturdays. (Saturday distance runs are also in the cards for the Growlers, so stay tuned.)
If a mid-life crisis really is the abrupt realization of a life lived routinely and the urge for radical change, then running provided the change I needed. It provided challenge, new relationships, and new experiences, both moving my legs and working my bottle muscles. Since I started, I’ve run 10 more marathons—5 of them Garden Spot Village—dropped that first personal record to 3:49:51 (Steamtown Marathon, 2016), made a host of new, fascinating friends, picked up that taste for IPAs, and started drinking coffee (not because of the beer). I’ve also developed the discipline of negative splitting—i.e., finishing faster than I started—and managed to shake off more than one injury (happily nothing major) as my body has gotten stronger.
My wife of 31 years also figures into my mid-life crisis…
Following in my footsteps, she started running again for the first time since high school as the goalie for the field hockey team.
Calvin Wang has been an assistant professor and the sciences librarian at Arcadia University since 2005.
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