Monday, July 2, 2012

The Other Olympics

Just about the time I was beginning to feel down on myself for my ROMAS disease (Rapid Onset of Middle Aged Slowness) a reminder not so gently smacks me in the face. 

"A few aches and pains are nothing in the grand scheme of things."  

I suspect many of you have been watching the Olympic qualifications.  These trials are filled with swimmers, runners, javelin throwers and scores of other human specimens all displaying amazing feats of strength, speed and agility in order to qualify for the Olympics.  One has to amazed and impressed.

One thinks…if only I coulda, woulda, shoulda…maybe I could have been there 30 years ago.  Oh, my aching shin splints…

Then, that less than gentile reminder…

The commercial for the 2012 Olympics pops up. 

You know, the one showing 8-10 athletes.  Some, without any form of physical impediment, intermingled with athletes doing the same sport in wheel chairs or wearing prosthetics or missing this or that.  The commercial concludes with a joint Summer Olympics 2012/Paralympics 2012 logo. 

Powerful stuff. 

Especially as I sit here bitching to myself about how achy, unresponsive and whiney my 48-year-old body seems to be getting.  My lot can be a whole lot more challenging. 

This commercial is inspiring to me.  It also made me feel like a big fat schmuck for my wrong-headed thinking about how it sucks to feel aches and pains as I put myself out on beautiful trails. 


I got curious about the kinds of performances the Paralympic athletes turn in.  How inspired should I be? 

I went here: to get an idea.  What I found was mind blowing.  I expected to find “great efforts”.  What I did not expect to find are eye popping times in sports of all types. 

Here are a few tidbits that will change your perspective about the “other” Olympic games.  Since this is a running blog, I focused on some running numbers. 

What was your fastest 5K?  Mine?  Somewhere around the 20 minute mark.  What if I told you a couple of Para-Olympians did it in around 15 minutes?  What if I told you Marla Runyan was listed as blind and ran a 15:07 5k?  (Dude, you just got chicked by a girl...who cannot see.)  Or if a guy with Cerebral Palsy named Kazuya Maeda did it in 12:33 in the wheelchair division?  Pretty inspiring…

How fast can you run a 100M dash?  If you clocked me, I am guessing an hour and 37 minutes would be the time these days.  However, another visually impaired athlete named Elchin Muradov did it in 10.66 seconds…not sooooo far off of Usain Bolts record.  

So, as we settle in to listen to Bob Costas walk us through the London Games, we should look to see what the other very able athletes in the 2012 Paralympics pull off.  Chances are their performance will make you quit whining about your own efforts.

Where are my Advil and Moonpies?  I need to get running!