I hadn’t really planned on watching the Olympic Marathon Trials. We don’t have cable, and while our Internet connection works fine for day-to-day stuff, for livestreams it’s…lacking. As fortune would have it, though, late Saturday morning I found myself at home with nothing urgent to do. I eyed my computer. Okay, I said. I’ll give this a shot… I pulled up the NBC Sports website, found the Trials livestream, clicked, and got cozy on my dining room barstool.
And proceeded to turn the thing off after 10 minutes of exasperatingly spotty viewing. I took the dog for a walk instead.
After we got back and she had sprawled out for a nap, though, a restlessness tugged at me. All you sports fans know this feeling: the clawing desire to witness, if only through the grace of technology, an extremely exciting event transpiring in your sport, as it’s transpiring.
TV was out. The livestream was out. Which left…Twitter. Sound goofy? Not when you have superbly speedy, top-notch tweeting to follow. A huge THANK YOU to Runner’s World, SaltyRunning.com, Women’s Running, and Oiselle; your Twitter teams kept me better-informed than I could ever have imagined.
But let’s get to the point of this post.
I “tuned in” just as the men’s race had finished, with about three miles to go for the women. Reading the latest tweets about the race(s), my pulse quickened. I refreshed my feed, read more tweets, refreshed again. Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg had the lead! Desi Linden was fighting! Kara Goucher was fighting!
Read. Refresh. Read. Refresh. My heart began to pound. It was an ugly, hot day for a marathon in LA, but those women were out there FIGHTING. Fighting the heat, fighting 26.2 miles, fighting their own tired selves.
Read. Refresh. I was pacing around the dining room. I choked up and kept pacing and kept reading and refreshing, until the end. I wiped my nose and eyes and took a deep breath.
This is the good stuff. This is what sports, and being a sports fan, is all about. Moments that take us out of ourselves and show us what the human spirit is made of, when athletes aren’t trying to be role models or spokespeople or even eloquent interview subjects; when they’re quite simply pouring every atom of themselves into their effort. It’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s not particularly witty or thought-provoking. It’s not even what I would call “heart-warming.”
It just yanks at the very core of you, that’s all.
And what a blessing to witness something like that.
Women’s Running posted the photo below, which pretty much sums things up. It shows Amy Cragg (1st place) and Shalane Flanagan (3rd place) right after Shalane’s finish. The two are training partners. If I had a daughter, I would show her this photo. This, I would tell her, is beauty. This is giving 100% and then some. This is friendship. This is the result of having faith. This is not caring who’s watching. This is femininity at its absolute finest.
Photo Credit: Ryan Bethke