World’s Fastest Man

For two brief years in high school I ran track and cross country. In track I ran the half mile and anchored the mile relay. While I was not fast enough to make the leap to varsity, this began my love for track and field.

The title, “World’s Fastest Man” goes to the world record holder in the 100mm dash. As of yesterday there is a new WFM, Usain Bolt also known as known as Lightning Bolt. (Bolt, is that a classic name for a sprinter or what?) He blew away the leading USA sprinter.

Usain is from Jamaica, also home of the man he replaced as WFM, Asafa Powell who did not race yesterday due to an injury. The Jamaican Olympic trials should be must see viewing.

In world class sprinting the margin between having and losing the world record is minuscule. Bolt’s official time of 9.72 seconds was .02 seconds faster than the prior record. Amazing.

One Man’s Amazing is Another Man’s Insane

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63 straight days of running marathons. 1650 miles. Amazing or crazy or both. At least he did it for a good cause.

As reported on NPR, Ultramarathoner Tim Borland set out last year with a goal for 2007: call attention to ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), a rare degenerative children’s disease that combines the symptoms of cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and cancer.

No day off. Marathon after marathon. 7,000-8,000 calories burned a day. Oh btw he ran most of them pushing a jogging stroller with different children who have the disease.

Amazing what someone can do, will do, for a cause. Tim Borland, my latest hero.

Awe Inspiring

This from the Chicago Tribune on October 11, 2007

3:23:14

Amy Palmiero- Winters, 35 Long Island, N.Y. Doctors told her that she would never run again after her left leg was amputated below the knee following a motorcycle accident. Since then, Palmiero-Winters — who competed in track and cross-country in high school and college — not only resumed running, but now competes regularly in marathons and triathlons. She hopes to inspire people with her example. “When you see someone who’s overcoming a challenge, maybe something you didn’t think you could do becomes a little more attainable,” Palmiero-Winters said. “It shows people no one can say what you can and can’t do. You’re only limited by yourself.”

There was a picture of this inspiring woman in the paper which I have not uncovered. It shows her at the end of the race with her “running leg” a piece of metal bent in a half circle.

First of all recognize that her time was outstanding for anyone with two good legs. Second, overcoming the loss of a leg to participate in marathons and triathlons is not just inspiring but awe inspiring. Apparently a person determined enough can do anything!

I will keep searching for the picture. Not just to share with you but to keep with me for those moments when a little reminder of possibilities is needed.

Found one from last year’s marathon

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The Mental Aspect of Winning

Tyson Gay of the U.S. won the 100 meters at the world track and field championships earlier this week. He finished in a blazing 9.85 seconds missing the world record by .08 seconds. It took longer than .08 seconds to read “.08 seconds”. One of the people he beat was Asafa Powell of Jamaica, the current world record holder. Powell was the betting favorite to win the race. He led for the first 80 meters.

Both of these men have the talent and physical tools to win. It was what was inside their heads and hearts that distinguished them in this race, not the strength in their legs. 

It was Gay who proved more adept at fighting off the nerves. “I was nervous but I spoke to my mother and she helped me calm down,” he said. (Presumably before and not during the race.)

“I tightened up. I panicked. I lost it,” Powell said.  “I felt Tyson coming on my shoulder and I panicked. I don’t normally do it but I panicked and Tyson got the better of me. I knew I was in great shape and ready to go but I made a huge mistake in the final.” (I think he panicked.)

There is a minute difference between a world championship and another disappointing finish. The mental aspect makes the difference in all parts of life. Attitude, being able to deal with pressure, and keeping your cool are often what make a person successful.

I find it particularly fascinating when the mind impacts what is often thought of as a purely physical act. Such as running unbelievably fast. Congratulations Tyson!

btw. I love track. I ran track in high school until my parents subtly pointed out that I either needed to be good enough for a track scholarship or I may want to get a job to help pay for college. I consulted the stopwatch and had a job within a week.

A quick post script. This morning Tyson won the 200 meter race in 19.76 seconds, a record time for the world championships. He is only the third person to win the sprint double in the history of the world championships.

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Adults Do The Darndest Things

While biking this weekend I passed runners wearing numbers, signifying a race. The odd thing was that I would see only a few runners at a time. Something else was odd. I would pass some relatively slow runners only to see faster ones behind them. And as I rode further and further I kept seeing them. Was there a marathon going on?

At one point I saw a sign for the Great Midwest Relay.  So I checked out the website.  I may bike a lot but these people are nutty. This relay race started in Madison, Wisconsin continued east to Milwaukee, took a right turn (south) and ended in downtown Chicago. A distance of 190 miles covered in 2 days by teams of 6 or twelve. I did the math. Each member of a 6 person team runs 31.7 miles.

The allure is that most of the running is done along bike paths through scenic towns.  By the time I saw these runners Saturday morning they were in their second day and in the last 25-30 miles. More power to them.

It actually would be fun to do this with a group of friends. Too bad my running days are long behind me.

What kooky things will someone think of next? Biking across Iowa or something? 

ps. Just above Chicago on the map is Evanston, my hometown.