Jens Voigt Puts a Healthy Spin on the Midlife Crisis

Jens uses middle age to fuel his passion for competition.As I write this I’m sitting on the plane on my way home from Bali, Indonesia—a trip of firsts for me. Not only did I participate in my first triathlon, I also experienced my very first open-water ocean swim. Though I only did the sprint distance—a 500m swim, 20m bike ride, and 5km run—I was proud of my finish time of 1:09:21. It was a close second place finish that left me 9 seconds behind the winner.  

I was living in the moment and don’t remember every second of the race, but here’s how it went down. My swim took about 12:30, my bike ride was 32 minutes, and finished the run in 22 minutes—with a few minutes of transitioning between sports. I was 19th out of the water, but after the bike ride I caught up with the lead group. When we started the run, I was maybe 5 or 10 seconds behind them. I managed to pass some of the other athletes to finish second in the end.

After successfully finishing my first triathlon, I was on a high on endorphins for about two hours, chatting and smiling to everyone. There were 225 starters, and the top finishers were awarded ]vouchers to spend at a local bike shop. Of course, I gave the prize back and asked them to donate it to a local kid. After all, I wasn’t in it for the money—I was in it for the experience. Funny thing was I was still able to walk normally and felt better than I have in a long time. I felt alive.

Does this mean I don’t feel alive when I’m not suffering and pushing my body to new limits, or when I do daily chores such as feeding the rabbits, or walking our dogs, Linda and Lilly? No, of course not. My life is great, I have a wonderful family, an incredible wife and six beautiful children. I mean, who would have thought that my life would be like this when I was a young amateur bike rider just starting out in reunited Germany with a meagre $3000. You might think I should be happy and relaxed, but my need to stay active and constantly be challenged plays into the element of addiction; this element where you need to prove yourself to yourself.

Why did I run 4 marathons this year? Why did I participate in a fun race during the Cyclo-Cross World Cup last month in Waterloo Wisconsin? Why did I finish a triathlon earlier today? After looking at it from all different angles and different perspectives there is only one honest answer: I’m in the middle of a midlife crisis. And I’m embracing it wholeheartedly.

But hey, at least my kind of midlife crisis is better than going out and buying a red Ferrari, right? And, nevertheless, I’m damn proud of my second place finish! Hell yeah.

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