For some reason known only to them, the folks in charge of the NBC Olympics broadcast decided to start their Sunday evening coverage with the Marathon. The whole 26+ miles, 2 hour and 20 plus minute Marathon.
I'm not a runner...anyone who has ever seen me wouldn't be surprised by that little revelation. Once upon a time, during wrestling season, I used to run a few miles a day. It wasn't fast, and I didn't enjoy it..but I did because it was the best way to work up a good sweat. If my high school had had nicer ellipticals or stair masters, I probably wouldn't have run at all.
I say all this to get it out in the open that long distance running, and the mind set necessary to succeed at long distance running is totally foreign to me. Watching these women destroy themselves for over two hours today, I kept having flashbacks to a Stephen King short story called 'Survivor Type', which appears in his collection Skeleton Crew. Don't worry, I'll wait for you to find it and read it before I continue.
So...'Survivor Type' follows an unfortunate ex-doctor(we know he's unfortunate because he is in a Stephen King story) who is reduced to running drugs to make ends meet. Things go south for the doctor when he is shipwrecked on a rock-shoal of an island, with minimal supplies, and 200K worth of heroin. The story is written as exerts from the doctors journal as things go from bad to worse. One of the overriding themes from the book, which the doctor learned during his trauma medicine days, is that sometimes, no matter the skill of the surgeon, it all comes down to one thing:
How Badly Does the Patient Want to Live?
That HAS to be the same way it is for these Olympic Class Marathoners....who wants to win the most? Don't get me wrong...you have to be in good shape to make it the first 5 miles, and insane shape to make is to the 10 mile point...but as some place, the mental becomes more important than the physical.
How else can you explain voluntarily doing something that has you falling to your knees and vomiting less than 5 feet after you pass the finish line?