Olympic Marathon Fever

The Olympics were a huge deal when I was growing up. Regardless of whether or not it was the Summer or Winter Games my mother and I always sat down after dinner to watch what happened that day whether or not we knew the sports. (Side note: my mother actually got to see some of the events during the 1972 Olympic Games in Sapporo. Apparently while watching the luge she spent most of her time warming herself by a fire and then running to the guardrail to cheer on the athlete.) We’d always root for Team USA but we also rooted for the UK (my father’s native homeland) and Colombia (my mother’s birthplace). I was always inspired by the people who had made it so far, getting a chance to compete and seeing their own national pride. But the one thing that my mother loved the most about the Olympics were the Opening and Closing Ceremony. I swear there is a VHS tape somewhere with the opening and closing ceremony for the 1992 Lillehammer Games and 1994 Barcelona Game. Why do I still keep it? Because you never know when you’re going to be at a dinner party when someone is going to request to see it; but not on just any old format, on VHS!

I always loved the swimming and gymnastics events. Growing up I was a pretty good swimmer so I actually understood the skill that was required to be so fast. I always wanted to be a gymnast so to see those kids do all those flips and performances was always amazing. However, out of all them I always loved the track & field events. The awesome thing about the track and field is it comes down to being the fastest human being in the world. How many people can say that?!

Now that I’m planning on running my second marathon I’m a little more excited over the people that are competing and seeing how well they do on a mentally killing course. Preparing for a marathon is never easy and three of my running inspirations will be there: Paula Radcliffe, Kara Goucher, and the first timer Gladys Tejeda.

Paula Radcliffe

Paula Radcliffe

I first saw Paula Radcliffe run in the NYC Marathon back in 2007 when she flew by me in Harlem. I took a picture of her and she was going so fast that my camera only captured her as a blur. Seeing her running the course and looking so strong was the first time that it entered my head, “maybe one day I can do a marathon”. Her movements were so controlled and she looked as if it was effortless. She won the race after just giving birth to her daughter 10 months prior. She gave birth to her son in 2010 and according to an article in The Daily Mail she was training 14 miles a day when she was 5 months pregnant. Proving that women can be the greatest marathoners.

Now gearing up for London it’ll be interesting to see how she does. She’s won the London Marathon years ago but she hasn’t done well at the Olympics. In Greece, she hit a really bad wall and didn’t finish the race, while at the Beijing Games she came in 23rd. She’s nearly 40 and has been training for London, however a few injuries have started to creep up on her now, so the question is: will she compete? I hope she does and  she can finish in the top 3. I mean seriously, here’s a woman who has won several marathons but not the Olympics! She needs the win. But if the Olympics don’t work out I hope she runs NY this year because then I can say that I ran with her.

Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher

Kara made her marathon appearance in New York in 2008 and placed third. She did it again in the 2009 Boston Marathon. Yeah, pretty impressive. After running the Nike Half  Marathon last year I decided to pick up her book, best decision ever! Although I’m not training as intensively as her, she talks about things that I haven’t thought about, like what I’m going to do when I’m pregnant, recommendations for fuel and reminding me that no one ever sleeps before a race. I pick up her book at night, before I go to bed, to give me inspiration for when I do my trainings in the morning. A little read to get me motivated.

I’m eager to see her do well. She’s been an inspiration and relatively close to my age I appreciate her wisdom. I think she can really take this race head on and come home with a medal.

Gladys Tejada

Gladys Tejeda

If you’re looking for an inspirational story, just read Gladys Tejada’s journey. This will be the second time she’s ever SEEN the Olympics and her third marathon race EVER! Yes, her third marathon race! She qualified for the Olympics on her FIRST race in Seoul and won the bronze in the Pan American Games. I read her story online yesterday and spent half the day picking up my jaw from the floor.

A girl from a small village in the Peruvian Andes, she never thought about the Olympics until four years ago when she saw it on TV for the first time. She’s been training in the Andes mountains in her village so you know she can handle the endurance for sure. To imagine a girl who has worked at a flour plant, the daughter of farmers taking on the Olympics for the first time is what the Games are all about.

I’m really hoping she gets a medal but with so many marathoners who have been training for decades it’ll be tough. It’s going to be interesting to see how she handles it, but I have strong hopes for her to finish in the top 10.

The marathon race isn’t until Aug. 5th but I can’t wait! Wishing all the best to the marathoners, swimmers, gymnasts and athletes. Go Team USA!

What events are you looking forward to? What country or athlete are you rooting for? Did anyone else still have recordings of the ceremonies like I do, or is it just my crazy family? 

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