In light of the fact that fully 3/4 of the team is now in the "masters" category and the decades of intense training and competition are beginning to take their toll (both physically and mentally) the team is very slowly and very gradually transitioning to a new sport, despite the deep misgivings of Mr. Byram.
O'Toole, Sattler and I are now proud members of Chess.com, an enormous online community of chess players where you can partake in "chess training" sessions, read up on the latest openings and gambits, see how the best chess players in the world are doing in international chess tournaments and challenge someone on the other side of the planet to an online chess game. The site even assigns you a ranking (based on a formula only a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician can explain).
We've found that there are many parallels between competitive running and chess. Chess is challenging, even grueling at times, it takes some training to get good at it, there can be an addictive aspect to it, it has a long and interesting history and it satisfies our competitive nature. Also, similar to our early-morning joint running workouts, we've begun a little ritual of getting together at the local Starbucks on weekend nights for some chess games and hot chocolate.
In fact, you can compete in chess much more often than in running; if you have an internet connection you can engage in international chess competition within a couple of mouse clicks. In fact, the three of us (Mr. Byram will be joining us shortly, I'm sure) are currently in the middle of an online intra-team 3-man chess tournament.
The other advantage of chess over running, and the one that's most compelling to us older runners, is that it's a no-impact sport. It doesn't strain any achilles tendons, pull any hamstrings, or blow out any knees, which means we can compete in this mental sport for decades to come.
Don't get me wrong, we won't be retiring fully from running anytime soon (at least Mr. Byram and I won't). But when the joints blow out on a permanent basis we'll make a nice, smooth transition into a much less painful sport and then dominate the local chess scene, assuming there is one. In the meantime we'll continue to sharpen our physical and mental muscles.