A Victory Lap Lifestyle – Profile #1

I enjoy learning about and sharing stories of real people doing interesting things. These stories serve to remind me what’s possible when you live intentionally and make healthful lifestyle choices. We can learn from these people and use them as inspiration, if they can do it, there is no reason why we can’t do it too!

Here Is A Story About Carol And George

I shared in a previous blog that I started swimming again after a five year hiatus, as part of my goal to get back to a healthy lifestyle. There are several lanes in my community pool with people of all capabilities swimming at their own pace. I swim in lane one, the slowest lane and that is where I met Carol for the first time. When I think about Carol, she reminds me of the energizer bunny.  I used Carol as my pacer and I worked hard to keep up swimming behind her as she goes up and down the pool. After a while my arms hurt and my breathing becomes laboured, but Carol just keeps on going and going.

Carol has grit and grit is what gets you through life and she has it in spades. What really makes me smile is knowing that Carol is 78 years young (she has 16 years on me) and when I think about that it motivates me to show up at the pool for every class. How can I ever whine about a workout being too hard when Carol is always prepared to lead the way?

Carol joined masters swimming over 40 years ago and while not overly competitive in swimming she describes herself as competitive by nature. Carol took early retirement in 1999 to be able to spend time with her first granddaughter Irene. Carol remains active with a multitude of interests and activities including tennis, pickle ball, a good card game, bicycling, reading, gardening and a couple of camping trips each summer. I am getting tired looking at this list. Oh yes, Carol and her husband George also take an annual trip to Florida.

Carol Has Created A Great Lifestyle But Wait Till You Hear About George 

George owned his own business until 2010, when he sold his company with an agreement he would help transition the company for 6 months but after 7 years he is still working 2 1/2 days a week.

Fifteen years ago he discovered the world of triathlons when he turned 62, and he was hooked. Since then he has competed in 8 Ironman races completing 5. An Ironman race if you do not know involves swimming 4k, followed by a 180k bike ride, and finally a 42k run all on the same day without a break. A remarkable test of endurance! George still tries to do a few shorter races each year to stay in shape.

In 2007 George had the opportunity to go to Tanzania with a friend to work on a hospital. The hospital was located at the 4000 foot level of Kilimanjaro so being George he took advantage of the opportunity and planned a climb to the top. All in all it was a 7 day trip, 5 1/2 days up, 1 1/2 days down. Now that’s what you call an adventure!

Not long after another opportunity to return to Tanzania materialized and this time Carol accompanied George. They worked at local schools in Moshi, repairing buildings and building desks for the students. After the work was done they celebrated by spending a week on safari in the Serengeti.

In 2014 George was feeling a little antsy so he talked his oldest granddaughter Sarah into traveling to Spain with him to walk the Camino de Santiago. It’s an ancient pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of faith, discovery or a personal challenge. (Kind of sounds like doing an ironman if you ask me) The distance from the French town of St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago Spain is about 800K (500 miles). You walk at your own pace with most completing the journey in about 35 days. George describes the walk as physically and mentally demanding, but also incredibly rewarding, getting to know a country and its people as you walk. An added benefit you also meet interesting people on their own journey from all parts of the world and everyone has a story to share.

Unfortunately Sarah was unable to complete the walk due to an  injury, so after taking her to Portugal to fly home, George  returned to Leon and on May 31 after 30 ½ days walked into Santiago Spain with a group of friends made along the way. George really knows how to squeeze the most out of an adventure and spent a week before the start in Barcelona and added a week at the end to allow him to explore Santiago.

Currently George is studying Spanish in anticipation of doing the walk again with his other granddaughter Irene when he turns 80.

Ps: As luck would have it while writing this article I received the April edition of Zoomer magazine in the mail. In the article “Scaling Back” by Leanne Delap they compare the cross-sectional MRI of a thigh for a 70 year old triathlete vs the thigh of a sedentary person of the same age. It’s a real eye opener and it’s easy to see the difference between the healthy lean red tissue of the triathlete    and the ugly white fat deposits developed by the couch potato.  Now you know why I’m considering doing my own triathlon in three years when I turn 65!

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2 thoughts on “A Victory Lap Lifestyle – Profile #1

  1. Scott Cameron Reply

    Great story and very inspiring!!! I’m 58 yo and after 41 years in the Alberta oil and gas business, my wife of 38 years and I are starting our Victory Lap on July 1st. I’ve read every book by Ernie Zelinski and I’ve just started in on the Victory Lap Retirement book- can’t wait to get more great ideas.

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      Enjoy your Victory Lap Scott! When you read VLR you will discover that Ernie’s book ‘ How To Retire Happy Wild and Free” helped me find the courage to finally escape from a high stress job that was affecting my health. At each seminar I do on VLR I give away a copy of his book to whoever admits they are facing a similar situation.

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