I’ll admit it.
Up until this year, I never watched the Olympic marathon with interest. If it was on while I was watching, I’d deal with the coverage. I didn’t get it. At all.
This year? I had three alarms set to make sure I was up to watch. Now I get it.
(Sadly, having been on the other side I realize why NBC is showing fluff like interviews with skiers rather than the entire marathon.)
For me, the saddest part of this is that Paula Radcliffe had to withdraw because of a degenerative foot problem. Word broke on this last Sunday. And my heart absolutely broke for her. In Athens, she had a meltdown – both physical and mental. In Beijing she had a stress fracture. London should have been her coronation.
Her entire statement is here.
But for me, the heart of it is this:
“My sport is a beautiful sport, it gives so much fun and enjoyment, I believe helps me to be a better person and I have been very fortunate to experience some great success and have so many beautiful and happy memories.
“However, the downside is that it can break your heart and spirit many times over when your body is simply unable to match what your heart and brain want it to do.”
Paula, you are truly the best and an amazing athlete! Thank you for what you’ve done for the sport and for life!!
I’m typing this as I watch on NBC (frustrating…we’ve had cut aways to see an interview with a skier (last I checked that was a WINTER sport) and talk about tennis – but I can’t seem to find if the BBC has online coverage, and the online coverage link I did find doesn’t want to work with Chrome and on Safari it’s all pop-ups and jiggly ads, so I can only cross my fingers that I haven’t permanently damaged my computer). Desi has dropped out (it’s debatable if she should have even started, and hopefully she hasn’t done anything to ruin her career in starting it and running as much as she did). Yamauchi from GB has also dropped out. It’s rainy and/or wet (exactly why I don’t cancel runs for just rain…I’m not an Olympian, but when I do race I’ve paid a lot of money to run and/or to get there, and I’m not going to not run just because it’s raining).
Looking at it now, I can see both sides – I remember how I would watch if there was nothing else on (and honestly given the coverage NBC is providing I can understand why people wouldn’t want to watch) and can see that. And yet now, being a runner and having run a marathon (and in training for two more), I understand the beauty of the sport as well as the heartbreak.
So yes, while I’m pulling for Kara and Shalane, I’m also pulling for Freya Murray who replaced Paula. I cannot imagine having a week to fully mentally prepare for the race of my life (she knew she was the alternate and there was a chance, so theoretically she’s been preparing physically for just in case). But no matter what, this is the beauty of the sport writ large.
Go women! You are all winners!