Ida Keeling, 102-Year-Old Record-Breaker: “Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down”
If you knew you could guarantee living a long life, what do you think you would be doing in your eighties, nineties, hundreds? Would you still actively dedicate time to the hobbies you have now? How vibrant would your social life be? Do you think you would still have the strength, energy, or confidence to stay physically active? Despite a long and hard-fought battle, we know of one individual who has some amazing answer to those questions – her name is Ida Keeling.
How Idea Keeling Left Aging in the Dust
Today, 4-foot-6, eighty-three-pound Ida Keeling is 102-years-old. Even at that age, Ida proudly takes only one prescription drug, stating she is “not a sickly person.” She actually rides an exercise bike, lifts weights, and runs up and down the hallways of her apartment building or on a treadmill.
Ida Keeling was not always a runner, though. Her daughter, Shelley Keeling, is the one who actually got her to start running – at the age of sixty-seven. While it seems like an incredible feat (it is), it came after incredible hardship. The kind of experience that knocks you down for life.
In 1958, her husband died from a heart attack at only 42-years-old. But what really triggered a downward spiral was when Ida’s two sons, Donald and Charles, were killed in gruesome drug-related homicides two decades later and only three years apart.
Losing her two sons was the last straw. Ida’s blood sugar spun out of control and hit dangerous levels as high as 206/106. Unsurprisingly, she quickly hit rock bottom in a fight against depression that seemed impossible to win. But God, she believes, had a different plan for her life.
Running Towards Recovery
While Shelley works as a lawyer and real estate investor, she also volunteers as a high school track coach. So, it makes sense that she convinced her mother to take up the life-changing exercise. To offer some encouragement, the mother-daughter duo ran a race together in Brooklyn, New York.
“I ran the 5k I think, and I felt better. Good Lord, I thought that race was never going to end, but afterwards I felt free. I just threw off all the bad memories, the aggravation, the stress. And I thought, since I felt so good and I was coming out of a hole, I’ve been running ever since.”
Shelley, her loving daughter, could not be prouder of her mother.
“The biggest thing with my mom is that she never lets anything get her down. If somebody said to her, ‘I’m going to put you in a box and you’re never going to get out,’ she’s say, ‘Just you wait.’”
It’s true – just listen to Ida speak!
“You see so many older people just sitting around – well, that’s not me. Time marches on, but I keep going.”
Ida’s track record speaks for itself!
As if completing a 5k race at the age of 67 wasn’t impressive enough… “I was pretty fast as a girl,” said Ida Keeling. “What makes me faster now is that everyone else has slowed down.”
- 2011: At 95-years-old, Ida set the world record for running 60 meters at 29.86 seconds in her age group.
- 2012: Ida set the W95 American record at the USATF Eastern Regional Conference Championship at 51.58 seconds.
- 2014: At 99-years-old, Ida set the fastest known time for a woman of her age in the 100-meter-dash at 59.80 seconds at the Gay Games.
- 2016: 100-year-old Ida Keeling became the first woman in history to complete the 100-meter dash in 1 minute and 17 seconds.
Simple and Sound Inspiring Advice from Ida Keeling
“Get up off your back end and keep moving,” says Ida. “That’s all.”
“I absolutely refuse to tolerate drama. I just don’t have time for people who live only to cause trouble.”
“Just find the nice, kind, supportive people and bring them into your circle. Let the others find God in their own way and in their own time.”
Now at 102-years-old, Ida Keeling is showing no signs of slowing down. Ida is even sharing her inspiring story in her memoir, Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race Against Time which is set to come out in February 2018.
Until then, she continues to inspire people young and old to live a great life. And, in her humility, says: “Now I am just chasing myself – there’s no one else to compete with.”
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