Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 49 - Heroes

Watching Lindsey Vonn win the gold medal in the women's downhill last night was pretty cool. I don't know if you caught it in any of the coverage, but apparently she's had some injury problems.

Ok, that was sarcasm... doesn't always come out in type. How could you possibly watch any of the coverage of that event and not know that she's come back from injuries, including a nasty bruise on her shin.

Not to be cynical, but I'm thinkin' the bruise was a little blown out of proportion to create some drama. Would a bruise, on a shin, really keep a world class athlete out of her dream race? An athlete who typically goes down the side of a mountain in what is essentially a barely controlled fall? Could it really affect her performance? Maybe, I guess.

My point is, that we had her story of perseverance beaten into our heads. And it's a good story.

Same for J.R. Celaski. He's the 19 year old short track speed skater who damn near cut his own leg off in a crash last fall during the trials.Slight exaggeration, but his skate did cut deep into his thigh and he needed a tourniquet to stop the blood, which was pooling all around him on the ice.

A bajillion stitches later and his first competitive skate after all of that mess is his first Olympic heat for the 1500m. In that event he ended up getting a bronze medal (thanks in no small part to the Korean doof who took himself and his countryman out of 2nd and 3rd place on the last turn).

He's also the same kid who, last night, pulled one of the coolest moves I've ever seen in any sport in his first heat for the 1000m. He had the door slammed right in his face by this "veteran skater" with about 2 laps to go. Our little hero, with is rebuilt thigh, didn't let that stop him. A lap later he stunned that same skater with a juke-and-dive, or hook-and-ladder, or some incredible move that deserves a cool name, on the last turn that got him around the older dude and  into the next round. I can't do it justice, but rest assured that it was lightning fast, perfectly timed, and absolutely decisive. The "veteran skater" didn't have a chance against this plucky young product of good emergency medicine.

Again, we heard all about his comeback from a devastating injury, including numerous shots of his parents, who were also there when he sliced the bajeezus out of himself. Inspiring stuff.

Earlier today I attended my son's "Wax Museum" where the kids dress up as famous people (for this class they were all from Indiana) and tell passers-by interesting facts about their person. (My son was Tecumseh, and he rocked it!)

Another student was Wilma Rudolph. You wanna talk hero? The woman had polio and fought it off to become not only an Olympic track and field champion, but also an icon for the sport, and for america, and for women.

Kinda makes that bruised shin look a little wimpy, doesn't it.

I was thinking about these three stories on my run this afternoon. All three of these people overcame their injuries to do what they loved, and happened to be really good at.

Here's my theory... they are just like us. We breath the same air, eat food, sleep, get up in the morning and do our thing. NBC wants us to think that Celaski and Vonn are super-heroes because of what they have overcome. Wilma Rudolph, she may have been a super hero, but she was also human.

These three just didn't let anything keep them from being who they wanted to be.

The drive that took these three to their goals exists in each of us. The world tries to beat us down, tell us we can't accomplish our goals because of this or that. Too often, it's our own inner voice telling us not to even try.

My inner voice kept me (mostly) off the roads for over a year. It's a loud, strong voice, and it recruits rationalization and fear and self-loathing to help keep you down. I also had people in my life who, for their own reasons, told me it was time to give up running.

Don't listen to anyone else. Don't listen to the doubting inner-voice. Listen to the desire to feel better, to do better, to be better. Be your own hero.

Good running,

Numbers: 4.5 miles through a lot of slush and slop.