Sunday, August 1, 2010

The 2040 Project Begins

In April 2010 I participated in the Ochsner Ironman New Orleans 70.3 triathlon. If you’re not familiar with a 70.3 triathlon it consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run, totally 70.3 miles. As I lined up for the swim start I looked to my right and saw a rock star of tri world, Sr. Madonna Buder. I was awestruck and it made my week when she smiled and said “God bless you” and “have a good race.”

Sr. Madonna has completed over 325 triathlons, including 36 Ironman distance races.

Did I mention that Sr. Madonna’s race age was 80?

Sr. Madonna first began running at 46 at the encouragement of a priest. She competed in her first Ironman distance race at 55. As Sr. Madonna blew by me on the bike, many thoughts raced through my head. My initial emotional reaction was of disappointment in myself. I mean I was getting my butt kicked by an 80 year old nun. Thank goodness for my ability to reframe. After acknowledging my emotional reaction, I let my head take over and reframed. Gone was my shame and disappointment, replace with feelings of admiration, hope, respect. Instead of being ashamed, I was now inspired. I was 45. In 30 years, I still wouldn’t be Sr. Madonna’s age. In fact, I’d only be 75. Wouldn’t it be cool if I actually was still active when I turned 75?

Sr. Madonna Buder at the April 2010
Ochsner Ironman New Orleans 70.3
Race Age 80
What would it take for me to still be competing and stretching boundaries at 75? What would I need to do physically, mentally and spiritually to reach 2040 with the passion, athleticism and joy that seems so evident in Sr. Madonna? Sr. Madonna didn’t start running until mid-life and I witnessed what she was doing 30 years later. Instead of a slippery slope to death, the next chapter of my life can be as fulfilling, as exciting as the first half. I couldn’t choose whether I aged. I could, however, choose not to rot.

The 2040 Project was launched. From here forward, I would commit myself to focusing on all the possibilities of the future, to embrace with enthusiam all that is mid-life. The 2040 Project is not limited to a singular athletic event (though when I get to 2037, I’d like to select one). The goal of the 2040 project is to eat healthy and exercise, not for some short term gain (though I’ll get that too), but because if I’m going to be active at 75, I better start today. The 2040 Project also means avoiding burn-out, having plenty of positive relationships, being smart about how hard I play or push. To reach 2040 in optimal condition requires watching out for all aspects of my life: body, mind and spirit.

Some have already told me that 2040 is too far for them, that 2030 is more reasonable. Well, that’s great too. In fact, none of us are guaranteed another moment, much less another 30 years. I understand. Should my time come sooner than later, I believe that my life is already improved by imagining that my life is not half over, but half begun.

This blog will be a travelogue on my journey to 2040. Like any travelogue, it’ll be a place to record the adventures of my fellow travelers and myself. Here, I can track our progress as well as set backs and be accountable. I can share stories about people who redefine what “midlife” “old age” and “growing old” is all about. As a scrapbook, it can collect information on places, people and things that inspire. It can also contain other resources and suggestions for making the passage more enjoyable.

I hope you’ll join me on the journey. It’s going to be one exciting trip!


  1. I am so excited to be an integral part of Team 2040! YOU inspire me Lizzard and I'm for realsies! I plan on training by your side for at least the next 30 years... by then our competition should be shaking in their orthotics when they see us coming! (if they can see us coming) Love you and so glad the blog is up! Video documentary will begin soon!

  2. Lizzard, you will be 85 years old one day but I can never imagine thinking of you in "old age" or "growing old." Your spunk, zeal for life, positive attitude, and overall ability to make anything fun will always keep your mind, body, and spirit YOUNG. You inspire ME and I'm so thankful to be establishing so many positive relationships with you and my new fellow Fitbirds!

  3. This AMAZES and INSPIRES me! I'm in!

    I spent time with Sister Madonna in the lobby of the hotel at Ironman Coeur D'Alene this year. She was volunteering, not racing. She sat on the floor with us, chatted, told her race day stories and sprang up off the floor to grab her backpack and move on. When I am 80 I want to be able to do THAT.....go about my life like I do now. It will be hard work and will take diligence and commitment. It's a challenge I look forward to Lizzie!

  4. I hope I'm drafing off your swim in 2040 - I'll be 83. You're an inspiration. I can't wait to read about your adventures.

  5. She is such an inspiration. I am writing an article on her and am wondering if I could get permission to reuse your photo.

    Please contact me at Impowerage (at)

  6. Kelly, I'm sending an email to the photographer today and will give her your contact information. Liz