Two remarkable events over the past few weeks have quickly changed the way I think about getting old. While I have spent much of the past year bemoaning my aching bones and battling one injury after another, two remarkable individuals have completely reconstituted the optics of aging.
Earlier this month, 49-year-old Jamie Moyer, starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies, became the oldest pitcher to ever win a Major League Baseball game. In doing so, Moyer not only impressed the sports world but the rest of the world as well. You see, Jamie Moyer is not your typical pitcher. Having spent a career bouncing from team-to-team and supporting his teammates in any way he can, Moyer has made a living off his cunning, somewhat whimsical approach to the art of pitching. In this day and age of powerful big men beating hitters with radar-gun-busting fastballs and devastating breaking balls Moyer is an averaged sized guy who baffles hitters with a fastball that is about the velocity of your average middle school kid and a command of the strike zone that reminds one of a secret service sharpshooter. Whether Moyer wins another game or not is immaterial. What does matter is that in his own unique and adaptable way he has re-defined aging.
Meghan Arbogast has done much the same thing over the past few years in ultramarathon running. Nicknamed The Queen by her Oregonian brethren, Meghan truly has performed majestically over the past few years. In addition to breaking age-group records in every race she has run, The Queen has also established a seemingly permanent spot in the Western States top-10 and represented the United States on the international stage in true royal fashion. Last year at the World 100K Championships she broke the 50-and-over World Record and just last weekend she re-broke her own record by an astounding ten minutes. And, all of this from a woman who is smart, down-to-earth, and incredibly humble.
I have gotten to know Meghan over the years and I know that she is an amazing person. In addition to her running accomplishments, Meghan is a devoted mother, a committed friend, and, a little more than a year ago, she became a widow. In the midst of her incredible training regimen and her active personal and professional life, Meghan supported and sustained her late husband Brian’s battle with a chronic and fatal illness. Throughout a more than year-long struggle, Meghan maintained incredible composure, powerful compassion, and deeply ingrained inner strength. I, for one, happen to believe that Meghan’s temperament and character have allowed her to weather this tragic experience with grace and dignity and, in the process, these experiences have not brought her down they have lifted her up. What we are seeing on the roads and on the trails, I believe, is not unlike the Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Last spring, a few months after Brian’s death, The Queen joined a bunch of us at the annual Michigan Bluff Training Camp a month before Western States. As usual, her fitness was second to none and her attitude going into the race was positive, contemplative, and focused. On our final big workout, The Ice Cream Sandwich Run, we set the goal of running from Foresthill to Cal 2 (approximately 8 miles) in under 75 minutes. We also were striving to do this after running 44 miles through the Canyons first. It was clear to all of us who would lead the run. Leaving Foresthill Meghan surged to the front and set the pace. Through the winding Cal Street Trail Meghan bobbed and weaved, gliding the downs and powering the ups all the while never breaking stride. As I was running behind her I could not help but think of myself as a lumbering bear chasing a sprightly gazelle. About halfway through the run I looked at my watch and realized we were five minutes ahead of pace. I told Meghan this and she said she would slow down. She didn’t. We finished the workout in 69 minutes. I couldn’t help but wonder if the journey Meghan had taken to get to that point gave her wings!
There are many sources of inspiration in this wonderful sport of ours. But there are few as grounded, thoughtful, smart, and transcendent as The Queen.
AJW Taproom’s Beer of the Week
This week the Beer of the Week review will be presented by the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar, Bryon Powell.
AJW assigned me to review Park City, Utah’s Polygamy Porter. I’m not very good at assignments, whether from tapmaster, headmaster, toastmaster… or just plain old master. However, with my two beers of the moment – Yuengling Lager and Racer 5 IPA – having been recently reviewed, I will yield to his authority and share a hometown brew.
Wasatch Beer’s Polygamy Porter is the most sessionable porter I’ve ever consumed. It won’t wow you with bold or complex flavor nor leave you laying in a litter of peanut shells on floor of Main Street PC’s O’Shucks and that’s this beer’s beauty. The dark brown brew is smooth with only a mild porter flavor. Normally, I’d enjoy, but want to call it quits with any microbrew porter within 24 ounces. This past Sunday, I enjoyed two 24-ounce “schooners” of Polygamy Porter back-to-back and could have enjoyed a few more.
Now, 48 ounces of beer would usually leave my a bit wobbly, but this truly a “Utah beer.” That is, it’s 3.2% alcohol by weight. What most folks overlook is that Utah “3.2 beer” is actually 4.0% alcohol by volume (ABV), the much more common measure of alcohol content. To give you a comparison, Guinness Draught is 4.2% ABV, while Sam Adams Boston Lager is 4.9% ABV. Some might take offense at this slightly less potent potable, but if you even come up from sea level to 7,100′ for some beers, particularly after a good run on our killer trails, you won’t notice, let alone mind, the difference. You may even think to yourself: Polygamy Porter, why have just one?
Call for Comments (from Bryon)
- How do these two athletes inspire you?
- What other beyond-the-normal-age-range athletes inspire you?
- Eligible for your AARP card? Share your own stories of adventure, achievement, and inspiration, whatever they may be.