Age is just a number

Posted on Sep 6, 2019, by

Guest blog by Marybeth Kuester

I truly believe when you stop moving, you start aging. My name is Marybeth Kuester, I’m 80-years-old and I am running in the Orthopedics and Sports Institute Relay Marathon at this year’s Community First Fox Cities Marathon Presented by Miron Construction.

People tell me all the time they can’t believe I’m getting around so well or that I’m as active as I am for my age. This year marks my second time participating in the Fox Cities Marathon event. Last year I signed up for the relay and organized a team of several of my elderly friends to run with me. It was their first race ever and an incredibly proud moment for all of us.

I’ve been a part of numerous races and activities such as Granny Basketball contests, strong-man contest, baton competitions and much more. I attend a local gym on a regular basis and take spin classes, weightlifting and yoga for balance training, and I keep up with many of my younger counterparts.

How do I do it? I have developed a certain outlook on life. I believe self-confidence, setting goals and striving to achieve those goals is the key to success. I am a big goal-setter. I’m always pushing myself to the next best thing or at least to my limits. I think my drive stems from being born in a pre-Title IX era.

For those who don’t remember, Title IX was a federal civil rights law that required gender equality in all parts of publicly-funded education. When I was a little girl, there were no female sports. My sister and I competed in baton-twirling competitions, we were pretty good, but we couldn’t participate in any sort of team activity because that was strictly for the boys. When I got older and Title IX was passed, I was able to participate in several sports in my post-graduate career at University of Wisconsin Madison.

I think I had a lot of pent-up frustration from being left out all those years because I became active in sports very quickly after Title IX passed. I loved the feeling of getting medals and having something to show for my achievements.

I hear all the time that I’m just blessed with good genes, but I don’t think that’s all of it. While, I’m sure genetics play a factor, I choose to keep going and stay active. I’ve always been this way.

Whenever I hit a challenge I work that much harder to overcome it. An example of this is when I took up skiing with my brother-in-law at 50-years-old. I didn’t like having to turn away from certain runs because they were too difficult. I trained and trained until I was able to do those difficult runs, and I got hurt doing one of those runs. I dislocated my shoulder, but instead of giving up on something I worked so hard for, I went back out the next day with my arm in a sling and kept training.

Again, just a few years ago, I was forced to slow down after my doctor spotted a melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer, on my face. After surgery, I was told not to do any strenuous activity. However, I refused to just waste away and feel sorry for myself. I walked for two hours a day, every day to keep moving. Now I’m back at all my old habits and I’m preparing to run the Fox Cities Marathon Relay this fall.

I don’t want people to look at me and say “oh, she’s such an inspiration.” I want to actually inspire people to make a change in their lives. Don’t let a few hurdles keep you from doing something you really want to do. I’m living proof that age is just a number. Get up, get moving, get active and stay young. I’ll see you at the start-line!

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