Published 11:17 am Thursday, October 6, 2016

By Gina Houchin

When I think of turning 80 it conjures up thoughts of warmth, apple pie, long afternoons reading a good book and falling asleep in an easy chair. The thought of swimming 80 laps or riding a bike for 80 miles at the age of 80 would not enter my mind and to do this all in one day is inconceivable! But, that’s exactly what my dad, John Houchin, did on Labor Day.

Dad has always been actively health conscious which is a fabulous trait he passed onto his children. My sister Lesley came down from Wisconsin to participate in the big event, which we jokingly called Eightythonarama. Lesley took it seriously though and designed Eightythonarama T-shirts for them to proudly wear once they crossed the finished line.

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The day was a scorcher, 90+ degrees. They started out riding 19 miles, stopped at the Wellness Center, swam 80 laps.  After swimming they mounted their bikes once more to complete the Eightythonarama. Kevin Lamb, a family friend, surprised everyone by showing up at the Wellness Center to join them for the remaining 61 miles.    

It was truly a dog day afternoon and the 90-degree heat was quickly robbing their energy. The hopes of a successful finish was feeling bleak, but their despair didn’t last long. At the turn-around point in Springfield, they had another surprise visit from friends; Russ and Margo Goodwin were waiting for them with more water, peanut butter sandwiches, and watermelon. The snacks, extra water, and encouragement from friends, helped restore their depleted energy and spirits as they returned to Danville crossing the finish line with smiles on their faces.

My dad refuses to grow old gracefully! To him, age is an intruder that requires many defenses against repeated assaults. Dad’s zest for life is inspiring and his energy encourages the rest of us to get moving. If I’m to follow in his footsteps, I need to start training now.  Dad is already talking about a Ninetythonarama.