“Everything slowed down. Everything became quiet...That's why I labeled it the perfect race.” --Apollo Ohno, speaking of his gold medal 500m skate in Torrino
Tonight, Apollo Ohno races for the last time at the Vancouver Olympics. As a runner myself, most people would think the Winter Olympics aren't my thing, but as far as I'm concerned—racing is racing. I feel the joy of racing whether the athlete is wearing skiis, skates, Speedos, shoes, or even if the athlete is a horse!
I still remember watching my first Olympics. It was the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. The Olympic bug bit me hard!
I remember Whitney Houston's song “If I Had One Moment in Time” played constantly during the coverage. I had been running for 2 years already at the time and, like every kid, dreamed of standing on the podium with my gold medal someday. I've been in love with the Olympics ever since.
Rather than watching the Olympics thinking that I'm not there with a medal around my neck, I remember the exhilaration that is racing and how it has touched my life. No judges. No style points. Just you, your competitors, and a clock.
When I watch Apollo Ohno, Lindsey Vonn, and so many others, I can still feel the adrenaline at the starting line, the thrill of the chase, the wind in my hair. This magic never, never dies. For those of us who have been blessed to experience the joy of racing, we know the primal instincts that take over. We know what Michael Jordan means when he talks about “being in the zone.”
Running is racing and racing is running.
Running is racing and racing is running. Of course there are variations, but our sport was the first “sport.” Running is still the #1 defense mechanism used by wild animals to survive attacks. Running is like breathing, like blinking—it's in our DNA and flows through our veins. The root of sports is ultimately human survival—who is the strongest, the fastest, the most agile, the most coordinated, and so on. These are the skills that kept us safe and fed since the beginning of time. Running and racing are both at the very heart of our most basic animal instincts.
Call me a “running nerd,” but all of that flashes through my brain and lingers in the memory of my cells when I watch the Olympic Super G or Short Track Speed Skating. Like I said, that magic never, never dies. Once you've tasted it, you never forget. Perhaps the fact that the Olympics is as primitive and ancient as racing or running itself brings out the joie de vivre even more. One thing I can say for sure is that watching the Olympics for me is the only time that sitting on the couch is exhilarating!