After Life Comes Death…

by Jeff Solomon

Wow! What a compelling and inviting title! Some may feel it’s depressing, but the reality is that it’s true. The key is to make the most of your time while you are living. Living, of course, is everything we do before death. Most of us hate the thought of death and dying. What’s worse is considering the circumstances that lead up to death. Sorry, I know this sounds gloomy, but we can control how we live.

As we get older, we see our parents aging and passing away. That’s hard! Pet owners go through the pain of losing our four-legged family members. That’s hard! As we get older, we have more pains as our physical bodies age. That’s hard!

The beauty of life is that before we die, we get to LIVE LIFE, and that’s where the fun comes in. We have a choice of how we live. Who we hang out with, what we do for work and pleasure, what we eat, and how we take care of our bodies.

From an old motocross racing injury, I ended up being somewhat disabled from a bad break in my ankle when I was young. For years I had bone on bone pain and walking was a challenge. My activities were dictated by how much pain I could tolerate. A day out was a challenge.

Ultimately I opted to have ankle fusion surgery, which changed my life. This is a big surgery. I was so terrified that I waited ten years to do it. As hard as that recovery was, years later, I am so thankful I did it. I got my life back.

A couple of years after my ankle surgery, my wife started hanging out with “running people.” She would often invite me to join her, but it was always a no for me. I didn’t see how I could be a “runner.” Even though I wasn’t excited about it, one day I decided to go to one of the Thursday Runners Lane “Fun” Runs. I never perceived running as “fun.” As I recall, I took one of our dogs and did a walk. I was more focused on hanging with the dog and taking sunset pictures but did “jog” a bit.

It’s odd stepping into a group you have nothing in common with, and where you don’t know anyone. As it turns out, these are very nice people. They are welcoming to everyone regardless of their fitness level. Of course, I was uncomfortable being a bit out of shape, wondering how I could fit in.

After a few times, it became clear that I could like what was happening in this group. I started to look forward to these scheduled runs. Initially, I could barely go a mile. I figured that was far enough. As time went on, I could go farther; and I was amazed at how well my fused ankle held up.

There is a unique dynamic that goes on in the running community. My wife and I are members of the Santa Clarita Runners, and a fun spin-off group with a few friends, the SCV Misfit Runners. With the encouragement of these people, I started to go farther, and have since done many races, even though “race” is not the correct word for me. I am very slow and embrace slow. I’m moving, and many people aren’t.

The Santa Clarita Marathon is special to me. I started with the Mayor’s Walk, then did the 5K and have since done two half marathons. 13.1 miles is a long distance for an old guy! If I can do it, I think anyone can do it. I ran the inaugural 10K in 2018 and will do that “race” in 2019. 6.2 miles is a comfortable distance for me at this stage of my life.

It’s been a privilege to be an “Ambassador” for my community’s biggest race for the last few years. I’m a champion for it! It’s nice to invite people of all ages and fitness levels to be a part of this event. If you are in striking distance of beautiful Santa Clarita, CA, November 2 and 3rd, 2019 we invite you to join us. It is a great event.

Moving will help EVERYONE. Walking is always good. Not only is your body moving, it’s also a productive time to think…and for dog people, you know they love to go for walks!

Many people are doing challenging physical events at all ages. My friends are doing Ragnar, Spartan, Triathlons, and ultra-long runs. While I did do a grueling mud event, for the most part, they are not for me. My goal is to avoid injuries that can shut down activity for a while. I want to keep moving.

Heading into Bridgeport on a Saturday morning run, I snapped this picture. What a great illustration of youth and age. I’d be happy to be doing what this senior couple is doing at this point in their lives.

Let’s consider this tweak to my title. How about; Before Death Comes LIFE! That statement is also true. How we choose to LIVE LIFE is up to us.

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