Luskin: Vermont to Vegas challenge

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(HOST) Two Vermont companies – Cabot Cheese and Concept2 – are sponsoring the Vermont to Vegas Challenge for proeple over fifty – and commentator Deborah Luskin is taking part.

(LUSKIN) Las Vegas has never been high on my list of places to go – until an email slipped through my spam filter in May. It invited all "Boomers, Zoomers, Red Hats, Seniors, Silver Foxes and Really Cool People over 50" to participate in a virtual challenge. All I had to do was log the hours I walked, ran, rowed or biked from mid-May to September. One-hundred-and-eighty hours would earn me a chance to win a trip to the AARP National Convention in Las Vegas next October. Never mind that I’ve never given any thought to attending the AARP Convention, or that, while I am a Boomer, I’m not a Zoomer (whatever that is), would never wear a red hat, don’t qualify as a senior, am not a silver fox, and have never been nor ever expect to be cool. I am, however, over fifty, so I qualify.

I was already exercising; I didn’t think this would be hard. Or maybe I just didn’t think.
Until I started this challenge, I was rowing four or five mornings a week, and on days too rainy to row, I’d at least think about taking a walk . I was pretty proud to see that I was averaging ten hours of exercise a week – until I stopped to do the math.
By mid-June it became clear that I needed to clock over thirteen hours a week if I was going to cross the Continental Divide. This means I have to walk, run, row or bike 1.8 hours every day for the rest of the summer. I’m not sure I can do it, but I’m going to try.
"Why?" you might ask – and it’s a good question.
For one, I already log my rowing miles. Every season I aim to row five hundred miles; one year, I actually did. Clearly, I find challenges of this sort appealing. And this one is no exception. When I enter my time on the Vegas Challenge website, my place in the field of thirteen hundred participants is recalculated. Exercising ten hours a week put me in the top three hundred. Now that I’ve ramped up my time, I’m in the top two hundred. I don’t know why ranking motivates me, but I admit that it does.

Then, there are the much-touted benefits of exercise, some of which I’m experiencing: better energy, better sleep and weight loss. The contest, remember is for people over fifty, when energy, sleep and weight control can become difficult – at least they are for me. Like most people, the general health and well-being I took for granted when I was younger now requires an effort to maintain. I’m hoping that all this exercise will pan out with an improved cardiac profile. I am slowly adjusting to the fact that women are statistically at higher risk for heart disease than for breast cancer.
But the real reason I’m doing this is because it just might allow me to wend my way to Las Vegas and still spend the summer in Vermont.

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