I competed in a masters swimming meet this morning, and swam a 200 yard butterfly in 2:17.3 seconds. Five years ago, at age 55, I swam the same event in 2:04.9. Granted, I was wearing a tech suit, but even without it, I would have been in the 2:06-high range, which means I'm roughly ten seconds slower now.
It's as if I compressed ten years worth of deterioration into five years.
Nevertheless, everyone congratulated me after my swim, as if I'd done something admirable. But there was a whole different feel to it. Five years ago, I still vaguely resembled a college swimmer -- if you squinted your eyes and didn't look too closely at the time.
Now, at age 60, people are applauding the old guy for simply finishing the race. Much in the same spirit that they would clap for a 4-year-old who can recite the alphabet. Or a dog that can walk on its hind legs.