Tag Archives: Lessons for a Strong and Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50

Katy Okuyama – Dont give up. Just keep plugging at it and you’ll get it.

Katy Going for it at Chuns Reef on the North Shore

The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book, “Lessons for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50.”

Katy Okuyama is a 53 year old surfer who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and who has passion for not just surfing, but food too. Katy’s grandfather and father were both grocers and Katy has carried on the passion for good food that was passed to her, through her work as a natural and organic food broker. While surfing doesn’t go as far back as her family’s passion for food, Katy has been surfing since she was 16 years old. Her older sister and older brother both surfed, and Katy took over her brother’s surf board when he went away to college and was immediately hooked. She tried to give up surfing in college, so that she could focus on her studies, but the ocean’s call got to her, and she returned to surfing. Katy loves the ocean and feels that its ionic effects keep her energized, and she hopes to be surfing when she reaches 90 years old.

I’m very excited about the progress on my book, “Lesson for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50.” I’m in the process of refining and editing, and have enlisted editorial help from my friends Sharon Pearson and Karen Hart. I’m confident that they will help take my ideas and rough hewn writing, and make it an enjoyable read.

I very much feel that the next three months will be a watershed for my book project and my 50-K Active Challenge project. I’ll hopefully have exciting news to report on both fronts in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned and Dream Big!

If you have not entered the 50-k Active Challenge T-shirt photo contest or voted yet, go to www.50-k.net.


Bob Radocy – Today is the first day of the rest of your life

The following is a brief profile of one of the over 50 athletes that I interviewed for my upcoming book, Lesson for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50.” To get email updates on future profiles, subscribe on this site.

Bob Radocy loves lifting and staying strong


Bob Radocy is a 60 year old archer and skier who lives in Boulder, Colorado, and who runs a company that specializes in creating prosthetics for people who have lost limbs and who want to do a sport or physical activity. Bob has been active his entire life, playing baseball in high school and hunting with his father. In 1971, Bob was in a tragic car accident, where he lost his left arm, just below the elbow. Bob’s background in physical education as well as engineering, enabled him to create a prosthetic for himself that allowed him to re-engage in activities that he enjoyed. He went on to found TRS Inc., which designs and manufactures prosthetics for active people. Bob’s says that he’d rather design a prosthetic to enable someone to run, not walk; to shoot a bow and arrow, not use a knife and fork. His work in designing prosthetics has helped thousands re-engage in activities they love, which include kayaking, lifting, climbing, running, archery, among other activities.

Bob loves being outdoors, whether it’s hiking, running, being on an archery range, or just witnessing a sunrise.  Bob told me that he feels that one measure of the richness of one’s life, is the number of sunrises you see.

A few updates on athletes I’ve interviewed. Sandy Scott will soon receive a Teschner 703 time trial bicycle as part of his sponsorship with Teschner. Sponsorship at 69? Sandy, you rock!

On my trip to New York for Thanksgiving, I read Myrna Haag’s (https://50athletesover50.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/myrna-hagg-%e2%80%93-on-a-mission/)  new book on nutrition. I really enjoyed it and learned quite a bit. My wife and I are going to try and adopt some of what Myrna discusses in the book. You can find her book at http://myrnahaag.com/pages/buybook.php.

Speaking of books; if you are trying to find a good Christmas gift for someone who wants to be active later in life, get them a copy of my first book, “Dream It, Live It, Love It,” which contains 10 interviews with athletes over 50. They are sure to be inspired. http://www.wisemediagroup.com/product_p/don10.htm

I recently uploaded a 9 minute video to Youtube, featuring some of the athletes I interviewed for my books. I’ve had great feedback on it. If you enjoy it, tell others about it. http://www.youtube.com/user/donmcgrathclimbs#p/a/u/0/gbYtdut0CGs

I recently wrote a chapter for my book where I discuss what  strong, healthy life is. It became crystal clear to me that being healthy isn’t good enough. Being healthy means being absent of illness. Will you settle for that. Repeat after me…”Hell NO.” Lead a strong, healthy life.

“Skating was such a blast when I was a kid, running around on skates with my sisters and my dad… then to come back to it later in life, was like discovering it all over again, but in new ways.”

The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book, “Lessons for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50.” To get an email update for future posts, subscribe on this site.

Suzy Devers In-line Skating

Suzy Devers is a 57 year old ice and in-line speed skater, who lives in Louisville, Colorado, but grew up on the East coast where she ice skated from age 5 with her sisters and father. Suzy played other sports through the years, and in her 30’s began in-line skating for fun and exercise. Suzy’s love for ice skating re-emerged at age 52, and had her looking for a pair of speed skates for ice. It was hard to find equipment for ice skating in Colorado, and her quest put her in touch with a skating coach in Boulder, Colorado. The rest is history, and she went onto race in-line skates on the road, indoors, and on a banked track; as well as ice, at a multitude of distances.

Suzy loves the variety of the various forms of skating she does. She also loves how it connects her with the fond memories of skating when she was a child.

This past week I reconnected with my runner-self. My current active passion is rock climbing, but I was a competitive runner for many years. This past week, I was visiting my family in New York, where climbing was not accessible, but running was. I ran several times to help get my blood flowing and get in a some sort of workout. My first day in New York, I ran a four mile loop around Collin’s Park; a run that I had probably done 1000 times. When I started, my lungs and legs rejoiced in the oxygen rich air of sea level. I felt as if I was ticking off six minute miles, just like I used to, but I knew I was probably running much slower. Regardless, I felt great. I charged up the hill at the back of the lake, floated over the turtle backed roads and uneven slate sidewalks, with visions of the runner I used to be flashing through my mind’s eye.

As I ran through the neighborhoods of my youth, I reflected on the denim and flannel town that taught me so much. It is where my family, friends, teammates, teachers, and coaches lived. It’s also where I grew to know so many people.

As fatigue began to grow, starting in my feet and traveling up my legs, to eventually engulf most of my body, I began to consider stopping to see some people I used to know. While it would be nice and give my body a chance to recover, I realized that I am now an outsider, looking in. Knocking on their door would be like intruding on their life, to just end up running away again. So, I kept on running, passing cats in windows, new buildings, and houses that differed in my memory only in the color of their paint.

As I rounded a corner and headed down Sacandaga road, the road I used to walk every day as I went to high school, fatigue began to retreat, and my legs regained their spring. I felt again the runner I was. I passed the house I grew up in, which is in much better shape than when I moved out. I thought it ironic that my old house was in better shape, while I was in worse shape. The run completed, I relished the sweaty afterglow.

A few days later, I ran again up in Northville, New York. When I finished that run, I thought about how running was my first active love. I thought how the past couple runs reconnected me with my first love. It reminded me of that photograph we all might have in the basement, packed away in a box, of our first girlfriend or boyfriend. One that probably looks nothing like them today; one that might be crumpled and faded, but that when we see it, reminds us of the cool feeling of a first love. While I can’t be the runner I was, I can still connect with what it was like to experience that first active love.

Sid Howard – If you don’t hold your head up so high in victory, you won’t have to hold your head down so low in defeat

The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book, “Lessons for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50; Dream It, Live It, Love It.” To see future posts, subscribe on this page.

Sid running the World Master's Championship 1500 meter








Sid Howard is a 70 year old track, cross-country, and road runner who lives in Plainfield, New Jersey. Sid was a talented runner from the start, and excelled in high school track and cross-country until the 11th grade. Sid told me that he also excelled at being the class clown, which led to his not making the grades he needed to stay on the team. He rediscovered running at age 39, when his son told him about a masters mile race being held at a nearby school. Sid was shocked that they had races for people who were done with school, but signed up. He’s been racing ever since and recently won the gold medal for the 1500 meter event at the World Masters Championships in Lahti, Finland.

This week, I’m enjoying a much-needed break from work and visiting my family in my home town, Scotia, New York. Time to reconnect with family and old friends, and remember my roots. It is a great feeling and brings back tons of great memories and emotions. I hope everyone is taking stock this week in all we have to be thankful for.

I’m very excited to see photo contest entries start rolling in for the 50-k Active-Life T-shirt contest. http://www.50-k.net/contests. Don’t delay getting your shirt and submitting your photo, the December 17th deadline for voting will be here before you know it! I’m sure $300 or an iPod would come in handy in time for the holidays.

I’ve had a lot of compliments on my last post about being over the hill. https://50athletesover50.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/50-k-photo-contest-and-what-hill-are-you-over/ I’m glad people have enjoyed it!

More good things happening

don mcgrath Take The Challenge

Don Urging People to Take The 50-K Active/Athlete Challenge

It is beginning to feel like that time of year when the busyness of the holidays rolls in and days fly by quickly. Next thing you know, it will be 2010. A few things are triggering this feeling for me. One is that I’m planning on traveling from my home in Colorado to my home town in upstate New York for Thanksgiving week to visit my extended family. It’s been a number of years since I’ve visited, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to the annual alumni dinner held by my former college (R.I.T.) running coach, Pete Todd. It will be great to see all my old buds.

A second trigger is that I am shooting to go to print in February, 2010 with my next book, “Lessons for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50: Dream It, Live It, love It.” I’ll have a 70% draft ready by December 4th to deliver to a few others who are contributing to the book. On the list to write sections are Dr. Nikola Medic, Dr. Vonda Wright, and Dr. Don Ardell. I’m on-track to maybe slightly ahead of schedule! With the book release getting close, I will soon be starting a campaign to engage the media to help in promotion.

Another trigger is that I just booked the first speaking engagement associated with my 50 athletes over 50 project. On April 2nd, 2010 I will be speaking to The Aspen Club, which is a club organized through the Poudre Valley Health District for people in Northern Colorado over the age of 50.  The Aspen Club has over 13,000 members, so I’m hoping for a good turnout. If you or someone you know is interested in having me speak at an event regarding either the 50 Athletes Over 50 Project or the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge Project (50-k.net), please email me at don@50interviews.com.

In news related to my first book of 10 interviews with over 50 athletes, it is now available on Amazon.com for use with a Kindle, and can be found at http://www.amazon.com/50-Athletes-over-Interviews/dp/B002VLZ04C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257887869&sr=8-1

If you read the book and liked it, please leave a review at the site above, as it will encourage others to read it.

Don Ardell, the best-selling author who I interviewed for my upcoming book and who will be writing the forward, recently shared his experience in coming back from having a major surgery in July, 2009 and winning the Triathlon World Championship in September. Read more at http://www.seekwellness.com/wellness/reports/2009-11-21.htm

For those who don’t know, 52 year old Joan Samuelson (used to be Joan Benoit), who ran the 2009 New York City Marathon to commemorate the 25th anniversary of her Los Angeles Olympic marathon gold medal, set a new NYC marathon record for the 50-54 age group by running 2:49.09. Wow! Read more at


Just Remember: “Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” -Samuel Ullman, American writer

Gene GeBauer – An athlete through dance

The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book “Lessons for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50; Dream It, Live It, Love It.” If you would like to see future profiles via email as well as get updates on the status of my book, please subscribe on this site.

Gene GeBauer

Gene Happy Tapping

Gene GeBauer is a 75 year old tap dancer who lives in Denver, Colorado and who danced professionally on Broadway in New York City for many years. Gene played basketball in junior high school, but quit the team when he discovered dancing. He’s forever grateful to Mr. Dimmit, the basketball coach, for supporting him in that decision. Gene discovered dancing when his doctor suggested it to Gene’s mother as a way to help his recovery from rheumatic fever. He remembers enjoying the feeling of moving in patterns to rhythm, as well as the excitement of getting to dance with the girls. After his performing career ended, Gene became a dance instructor, which he still does today. This past summer, Gene celebrated his 75th birthday, and past students came from as far away as New York City to celebrate the occasion and show their appreciation to him.

I included a dancer in my interviews with 50 athletes over 50 due to several people asking me whether dancers are athletes. After talking to Gene, it is clear to me that dancers can be considered athletes if they approach dancing the way athletes approach their sports. The physical demands are equal to those of many sports and the health rewards similar. After my book is published early next year, I plan on taking tap dancing lessons because it looks like fun and like something I can do for the rest of my life.

I recently realized that I have not been clear enough in explaining the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge in my writings and websites. There are two points that appear to keep people from joining; they think the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge is just for people over 50 years old and they can’t figure out what is in it for them. On the point concerning being only for people over 50, the Challenge is for ALL AGES. It was initially inspired by interviews with over 50 athletes, but the Challenge is for all ages, since we all can benefit from a more active life. I changed the 50-k.net website to make this point more clear. As for what is in it for those who join, below is what I recently posted on the main page of www.50-k.net.

“I was talking to someone earlier today and I asked if they had joined the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge. Their response to me opened my eyes. They asked me, “why should I?” I’m so close to and enthusiastic about the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge, that this response initially puzzled me. That is, until I looked at this website and realized that I really don’t make the benefits of joining very clear. Once I explained the Challenge to this person, they “got it” and joined. I realized then and their that I will never be able to explain this personally to 50,000 people. In the upcoming weeks I’ll be doubling down on making this message much clearer. This article is a start.

The benefits of joining the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge are two-fold; for yourself, as well as for the good of the nation and the world. By joining the Challenge, you improve your own health, as well as the health and quality of life of many.

First, a couple facts that may surprise and shock you. Over two-thirds of adults over the age of 20 in the United States are overweight, while over one-third are obese. Overweight and obesity are known to contribute to many diseases, so I won’t spend any time on why this is a problem and assume it is obvious. The technical definitions of overweight and obese are hard to grasp, so I hope the following will give you a visual of what this means.

I’m 5 foot, 9 inches tall and weigh 160 pounds. For me to simulate being overweight, I could strap 35 sticks of butter around my waist. Actually only 28 would go around my waist once, and the remaining 7 I would hold in my hands and my mouth I guess. If you are still having trouble getting a visual, if I stacked those 35 sticks of butter on my head, I would stand almost 20 feet tall. Anyway, it’s a lot of butter.

Now to simulate being obese, I would need 169 stick of butter. These would go around my waist 6 times, which would actually be longer than my torso – hard to picture? OK, I figured that 169 stick of butter, if glued or taped on my body would cover nearly 50% of my skin area.

As a side note, since I’m a pretty lean guy, the estimates above may actually be conservative, meaning that it underestimates the amount of butter I would need! Also, none of the over 50 athletes I interviewed for my book, were obese and maybe 1-2 overweight.

Second fact; the average 75 year old in the United States suffers from 3 chronic illnesses and is on 5 prescription medications. To give you a visual, I figure that in a year, they will take enough pills to fill a gallon bucket. In ten years, enough to fill a good sized fish tank. Very few of the athletes that I interviewed for my book, had any chronic illnesses.

The point is, that if you live the average, sedentary life that most of us Americans do, you will carry a lot of butter, and eat a lot of pills. Seriously, the average American is unhealthy, which has an affect on their quality of life and on the quality of life of the country, and maybe the world.

Join the Challenge for YOU: The mission of the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge is to inspire, support, educate, and reward people who want to lead a strong, healthy life by becoming more active. If you want to avoid the unhealthy state of being average, join the Challenge and be spectacular. My vision is that the members of the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge will come to the 50-k.net website to get motivated by its content, interact with a community using the forums and blogs, learn from featured posts and links, and get rewarded through contests and other forms of recognition. The Challenge will also be sponsoring events that members can take part of in person, furthering the support and community.

Join the Challenge for OTHERS: In 1998, the United States spent about $80 billion on obesity related health care. In 2007, we spent over $2 trillion on all forms of health care. Suppose that we all got active and eliminated obesity and also reduced our yearly health care spending by 10%. This would amount to a savings of almost $300 billion a year! Think what we could do with a budget like that to promote health and joy. A hope that I have for the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge is to get our attention (especially the media) turned to HEALTH REFORM, as opposed to health care reform. If we had more HEALTH REFORM, I believe we would need less health CARE reform.

I will be working to take this message further and strengthen it on this site and in my communications in coming weeks. I’m hoping that those who considered joining before, but wondered what was in it for them, now have a clearer picture and will join the community we are trying to establish.”

I hope that if you like what I’m trying to do with the 50-k Active Challenge, you will not only join, but help me recruit people to a more active life by becoming a foot soldier for the Challenge and ask everyone you know to join. Point them to the 50-k.net website, so they can sign up and view the various slide shows, videos, and posts. I can’t do it alone and I really believe that together, we can make a difference.

Myrna Hagg – On a mission

The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book. If you would like to see future profiles that I post, please subscribe on this page.

Myrna Hagg
Myrna Running on the Florida Beach

Myrna Hagg is a 50 year old triathlete who lives in Tampa, Florida. Myrna has been an athlete as far back as she can remember. She was on the swim team in high school and took up running in her twenties. Myrna discovered triathlons in her late twenties when someone in her town told her about races where you ran, cycled, and swam. Myrna did a local sprint triathlon and won. Her second triathlon was a half-Ironman and to her surprise, she qualified for the Kona Ironman in Hawaii. Myrna had great success in triathlons, ranking as high as 4rth nationally. Despite this success, when asked about her greatest accomplishment in our interview, Myna told me about the mission she has been on for over 20 years to help overweight people by teaching them how to view food differently and become active. Myrna has helped thousands of people break their food addictions and changed their lives.

I am inspired by people like Myrna who recognize how lucky they are and give back. I recently decided that I will dedicate a chapter in my book to athletes that I interviewed who are doing just that, giving back.

The tentative title for my upcoming book that features the 50 athletes that I interviewed is, “Lesson for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50: Dream It, Live It, Love It.” I feel that this title summarizes the focus of the book. I am trying to distill lessons that I have learned in the process of interviewing the 50 athletes over 50. It has been an amazing journey and I want to share my observations and the insights gained with the world. While the lesson came from interviews with athletes over 50 years of age, I believe that the people who stand to benefit the most are in their twenties, thirties, and forties. It is within this period of time where we need to make being active a lifestyle in order to sustain an active life well beyond 50. The athletes I interviewed have all done so and have great lessons to share.

I want to thank all of you who have been sending me email encouraging me in this project as well as in my 50-k Active Challenge project. I’m having a blast doing these projects, but sometimes like this past two weeks when I had to do some business travel, it really helped to open up my email and see word of encouragement. Please keep comments on my blog coming as well as email to don@50interviews.com.