Sat in my recliner this afternoon while my wife napped, and watched on the tube, the Ironman, on the Big Island of Hawaii.
For those of you who don't know, this is a race, starting with a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bicycle ride, then a full marathon, 26.2 miles. Seventeen hundred entrants, I believe.
So happened we were on the Big Island on vacation one time they ran this thing, back in the eighties. Saw them trudging across the lava fields as we drove around in our rental car. My. Look at that.
I thought they were crazy then, and I can't say my opinion of their sanity has gone up much ...
But here I was, snuggled down in the leather with the dog on the chair next to me and the cat on my lap, and came the stories about some of the runners:
A vet from the Iraq war who was recovering from major chemotherapy for testicular cancer.
A mother of four who works two jobs and who got hit on her bike once and broke all kinds of stuff.
A racer who got into a collision with another cyclist during the race and was hurt bad enough that he could only limp the entire marathon at a slow walk.
A woman with a broken foot who got through the swim and bike okay, then strapped on a walking-cast style boot and continued on with the marathon.
And my favorite, Lew Hollander, an eighty-year-old man from Bend who still works as a motivational speaker, and who was running his twenty-first Ironman, having finished them all.
None of these folks were in the running to win. A couple of them barely made it under the wire for the midnight deadline, after fifteen or sixteen hours doggedly going at it in the hot and humid Hawaiian climate.
But they all finished, which is passing amazing.
And sitting there, I thought, Well. I have no excuse for not staying in shape. Not if guys old enough to be my father are running in the Ironman and finishing.