DEAR ABBY: I am a 55-year-old female who competes in triathlons for fun, fitness and health. I consulted my doctor because I was having foot pain. When I told him I was a runner and was preparing for a marathon race, his response was, "At your age, you could hardly call it a race."
I was shocked. I repeated the insulting comment to my husband, who has never supported me in this nor attended my races. He replied, "Well, you don't actually consider yourself an athlete, do you?"
I am so offended that I want to dismiss both my doctor and my husband. I just finished a race with 5,000 women. Every one of them was fabulous and serious, no matter how old or what they looked like. It was the spirit of the sport that mattered. At what age does one stop being an athlete? -- OLDER ATHLETE, EUGENE, ORE.
DEAR OLDER ATHLETE: When one becomes a couch potato -- perhaps like your husband. According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th Edition), an athlete is "a person who is trained or skilled in exercise, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina." And whether your husband chooses to acknowledge it or not is beside the point.
As for your doctor, I'd say his attempt at humor was demeaning, and he should practice his profession only if he's wearing a muzzle. I wouldn't blame you if you "laugh" your way to another doctor who practices preventive medicine by encouraging, and supporting, his patients' fitness regimens.