Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Sweat and Tears
This picture was taken on the last day of camp last year. Needless to say, this run resulted in a few tears and lots of sweat!
Much has happened in the world of endurance sport in the past few weeks. Big questions are being asked out loud. These are the same questions that have been asked in whispers but now more leading edge conversations are happening in the world of sport. I find that exciting. I have my opinion and will share it.
We are always evolving and so is sport. At one time, running a marathon resulted in death. Pheidippides ran the distance and died. However, this year there were over 22,000 participants running with me at the Boston Marathon despite the BAA's best attempts to get us to defer our entry as a result of an untimely heat wave. When I did my first Ironman in 2005, the total participants were 1400 and now the average total number of athletes racing an Ironman is close to 2800. What this tells me is that sport is evolving. Athletes have so much information available to them as a result of science and what we have learned about the body.
In the early 1700's one of the leading causes of death was by consumption or commonly known as tuberculosis. In 2009, the total deaths in the U.S by tuberculosis was 529. Science of the human body and the medical community seems to be very leading edge. As a result of the evolution of science, more now is know about the human body than ever before. Diseases are cured as well as drugs discovered that benefit the body not diseased; hence the doping trend.
I am most interested in what happens in the head and in the heart to motivate someone to engage in sport. On some level there is a deeply personal decision to test one's self that drives competition. All the EPO and Testerone in the world is not going to get my butt off the couch and on the bike or in the pool. Eventually, all athletes must ask themselves why am I doing this. What lies in the answer is what I believe moves us from being the spectator to being the athlete. Somewhere along the way, most athletes that I know have decided to see what they can do whether it is mentally, physically or emotionally. At some point, we want to see if those fears are real. At some point, we want to see if we can take "it".
Before I knew the athlete that resides inside of this body, I knew I loved a dare. To really get me to do something was to say I couldn't. I didn't always take the honorable route. (If you've read my blog you know my familiarity with Cliffs notes - God Bless Cliff whoever he is) I didn't always follow the rules nor did I chose challenges that were smart. If you grew up in Corpus Christi in the 80's you may remember a time when there was NOT a sign on the Packery Channel bridge that said "no jumping" and you may have even been a part of us that helped create the need for that sign. So far be it for me to risk my fancy glass walls by tossing stones.
As I took on one of Coachies alter ego "Wooding" workouts last Thursday that left me with tears in my goggles, I was completely aware of why I do sport. Started out seeing if I could do it and well lets just say I will get another chance. Still I walked away from the pool with a "Oh yeah- watch me! This aint over yet" attitude. I was well aware of the effort it took between my ears to decide that I was going to get this!
In 1986, I had a doctor that looked at my crooked and then broken spine give me a list of things I "shouldn't do". Running was one of them. Based on what the docs knew then - he may have been right. In 2008, I had another doctor tell me just the opposite as he put a rod in my back. He was the one to sign me up for my 4th Ironman. How times have changed! Ten days ago another "doctor" looked at the xray of my feet and tell me I should "think about walking when I am 80" and 7 days ago yet another doctor told me that he could fix these up and I would be back up and running. Science is always evolving. Sport is always evolving. Humans are always evolving. One thing is certain - evolution sometimes requires sweat and tears.
So what now? My hope is that those with the most intimate knowledge of what science can do for sport and what sport can do for science come together. That no athlete is faced with denying what happens in the heart with some sweat in order to get to the finish line. That all athletes get the chance to "cry in their goggles" to know that they are alive and on the leading edge all on their own! That is where one experiences one's creator. This is what I believe. For now... off to have just one of those experiences on my bike, in my living room and all on my own create a little bit of sweat.