Four generations of Anita’s family participate in the Niantic Half Marathon and 5K. Anita (second from right) with her father, daughter, and two granddaughters
Anita Tudisco, age 59, Breaks the Mold by taking up competitive sports later in life, including learning to swim at age 58 to compete in triathlons. To support Pfizer’s Get Old effort, PfizerWorld will profile colleagues who Break the Mold by challenging the preconceptions of age and strive to have a better quality of life at every age.
Pfizer launched Get Old in June 2012 to further its work on Imperative 3: Earn greater respect from society. The goal is to inspire and activate people of all ages to reconsider what it means to get old and to change perceptions about aging at every stage of life.
Today, Anita Tudisco, Associate Director for Development Operations, Worldwide Research & Development, explains why she got involved in competitive sports later in life and who inspired her to challenge herself.
How do you feel you Break The Mold?
I started getting interested in sports and being more active later in life. I was in my late 40s when I began participating in sports I had never tried before.
How do you challenge preconceptions about age?
When I started running, I wasn’t looking to compete. But when one of my neighbors suggested that we run a 5-kilometer race together, I thought I could probably do it. So I actually ran/walked my first 5k at the age of 53. Once I’d finished and hadn’t come in last place, I really got the bug. I started feeling more competitive and wanting to go to that next one and see if I could beat my previous time.
It just kept adding on. I started competing in 10ks. Then there was a 20k. From there I entered a half marathon, which is 21.0975k, then duathlons, which are races that combine running and bicycling. Next I started to consider triathlons, which are made up of swimming, running, and bicycling legs. But the big obstacle was that I didn’t know how to swim, so I learned.
What is your advice about how to embrace your age?
I think the first thing is that you’re never too old. I think you can always start something new and move to the next level. It’s about taking it slowly, one step at a time, and not quitting. I think the key thing is that you have to have the determination that no matter how hard it seems, if you don’t quit you’ll be able to do it.
The other thing is that I feel I can’t lose; I can’t place last. So I think a little bit of healthy competition is very helpful.
What do you expect to do next to embrace challenges without regard to your age?
My next adventure is going to be a Dirty Girl obstacle course in Boston. This is something one of my friends has been doing and telling me about, and it sounds like a lot of fun. One of my colleagues here at Pfizer wants to do one to celebrate a big birthday she has this year, so she’s invited a bunch of women to join her for this event. I’m looking forward to that because it looks like a lot of fun and it’s something totally different.
Whom do you admire and what have you learned from them?
My dad is also somebody who breaks the mold. I look to him as a mentor, and his outlook is he’s never too old to try something new. He’s 86, and I figure if he feels that way, I certainly can also start something new at my age.
So he’s the one who really is the key to my getting past my fear that I can’t do something. For him it’s never “I can’t.” It’s “when?” When are you going to compete? When are you going to take that next step? What are we going to do next? He’s always looking for new adventures, and he brings me into his new adventures.
I pass them along as well. Last year, my dad, me, my daughter, and my granddaughters ran together in a 5k.