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Getting older and wiser
Kim Cowart showing off her favorite marathon finisher's medal after finishing her own 40th marathon on her 40th birthday. - photo by Kim Cowart
My circle of friends is getting older. It happens. Our conversations often revolve around the shock of it all. How can we have sons and daughters getting married when we just graduated from high school yesterday? We are living a real-life sci-fi movie!

While many greet birthdays kicking and screaming, I have long believed I was an old soul just waiting for my body to catch up with my spirit. I like getting older. I am proud of my age. Birthdays are always a reason to celebrate. I mean, the alternative isnt too great, is it?

Let me break down why getting older is so rad.

1. Besides allowing myself to use words like rad," I love racing in a new age group. Every five years, I get to be the youngest in a new age group, giving me a chance to kill it at races! Now that Im 40, not only am I in a new age group, Im in an entirely different category. Masters domination!

2. I measure my performance less by the standards of others and more by my own. My best is becoming good enough. Im not 100 percent there yet, but Im beginning to realize that my race really is my race. I can still come out on top even if I dont come in first. My success doesnt have to come at the expense of someone elses.

3. I am more comfortable in my skin. Gone are the days of longing to be taller, thinner, faster and stronger. I work hard, train hard and race hard. I am who I am. I have learned to accept my bunions and callouses. Maybe Im just too tired to care, but it sure feels liberating not to be controlled by my appearance. My self-worth isnt wrapped up in numbers or sizes but in my relationships and contributions. The women who have had the greatest impact on my life, well, their size and shape are inconsequential. I doubt Malala worries about cellulite. Why should I?

4. I couldnt care less about fitting in. I dont fall prey to the latest trends or fads in running or fitness. Im not afraid to try new things, but Im also not afraid to admit when its not my jam. Yep, I just used jam in a nonfood way. I have no guilty pleasures because I take no guilt in pleasure. I know what I like. I know who I am. I can now admit that when Fight Song comes on during a run, theres no dirt in my eyes. Those are tears. I feel things, and I am not ashamed.

5. Its the quiet moments that mean the most. Ive run some incredible races. The Berlin Marathon. The 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathon. Ive even won a couple small races. But one of my most cherished memories is running around my neighborhood with my daughters biking in front of me to a local bakery. Wed each buy a cookie and sit and watch the ducks before running/biking back home. Simple, special and significant.

6. Perhaps the biggest change has been about perspective. With age comes experience, and while I hope I have a lot more experiences ahead, sadly many of my friends dont. A few have passed away. Some after illness, a few due to accidents, a couple due to poor personal choices. All have made it clear that life is finite. We need to make the most of the time we have.

Medals and awards are fun. I like them a lot. But gone are the days when they are my carrot on a stick. I am grateful for a healthy body that can run and bike and play today. It would be a shame to waste that gift. So I wont. Nor will I waste time worrying about how I stack up or fit in. I can run a lot faster if I get rid of all that useless baggage. Time to let go and fly.