You have heard the phrase that life isn’t fair. Well, now death isn’t fair either. Well, now that I think about it, maybe it is.

I have been feeling my age lately. I am in my early forties so it is not unusual that I have been experiencing some new aches, pains, and ailments. Things just don’t work the same way any more.

This feeling that age is beginning to get the better of me is exacerbated by recent changes in my lifestyle. Just two years ago I was in the best shape of my life. After several years of triathlons and marathons, I fulfilled a life long dream. For one year I trained for and eventually completed an Ironman triathlon. For the uninitiated, that is a triathlon that consists of 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, and 26.2 miles of running on one glorious day.

I was in great shape back then, I could go out and do a 15 mile run or a 100 mile bike ride on a whim. But life changes. Training at that level is quite time consuming and sometimes in life you really do have to make choices. After one year of 15-20 hrs per week of training, we had our fifth child on the way. There just wasn’t time for advanced training and racing. So, in order to dedicate more time to the family I agreed that I would stop racing for a while.

But for me, the race was everything. Don’t get me wrong, on my best day I was only a middle of the pack kind of guy and I have never been anywhere near a podium. But I loved races. I loved the feel of them. I loved thinking about them. The races always kept me motivated. I would no sooner finish one race than I would sign up for another. I needed the races to be me focused, motivated. This is the problem with me. I need that focus. But I had to choose and the races had to wait. But with no race to keep me motivated, I eventually stopped training altogether.

Now, two years later and I am 40 lbs heavier and I find that when once I could run 10 miles and be fresh as a daisy, now I breathe heavily when I go up the stairs. To tell the truth, I have been feeling rather down about my rapid physical decline. Just when I thought that I couldn’t feel any lower, Padre Pio has managed to make me feel even worse.

Blessed Padre Pio has been dead almost as long as I have been alive yet he still looks better than I do right now. How is that fair? I mean look at the guy! I lay around for two years and I am a mess, he lays around for forty years and he looks great. Oh sure they used a little wax to help with the skin tone, but who couldn’t use a little makeup now and then.

My wife and I have been talking about the need for exercise. Moderate yet steady. She agrees that I need to start getting back in shape. Maybe I will never be where I was two years ago, but it is time to start training again. If you don’t use it, you will certainly lose it and I am not ready to lose it yet.

Yet, Padre Pio’s pulchritudinous physiognomy precipitated some pondering. Why is that he looks so good after forty years? The answer seems obvious. When he was alive, he exercised his soul. He prayed, he fasted, he was obedient, and he loved. He did all the spiritual exercise necessary to get him to the finish line. So when his race was finally over, he received a reward much greater than any Ironman medal.

So, this week as I dust of my running shoes and take the first creaky steps back to physical fitness, I am also going to dust of my rosary and take the first steps toward better spiritual fitness as well. I am motivated again, I just realized I have a very important race for I which I need to train. See you at the finish line.