Bill and his former relay team were being honored with a Hall of Fame plaque and I tagged along to meet his brothers and dad for the first time.
The track meet itself was exciting and reminded me of watching a cross race...the action was pretty straightforward and I was transfixed.
I have never played sports...it's been established here that I failed gym in high school and was required to take phys ed every day my senior year (and twice on Thursdays) in order to graduate. Even that was a close call and I squeaked by that last semester, days before graduation, only by agreeing to do the calligraphy for the football team's certificates. I hated sports, I hated gym.
Volleyball? I used to turn around, facing away from the net (or stand with my arms crossed, only moving to dodge away from the ball).
Basketball? While I was a pretty hardcore Sixers fan, when it came time to show my (5'2") stuff on the court, I'd "forget" my uniform and be relegated to
The mile run portion of our fitness test? That was awesome...I would walk, sullenly, the opposite direction of everyone else along the perimeter of the track.
Clearly, I was most secure in the art studio/darkroom/english class/library, while Gym only confounded my surly high school self and brought out the worst in me. I can't believe how lousy my attitude was, yet I can totally believe how lousy my attitude was.
Needless to say, I certainly didn't attend any track meets, or any sporting events for that matter, when I went to Henderson.
Initially, getting to know Bill, I couldn't quite grasp the enormity of his past running accomplishments...I didn't know the specifics of his events, let alone the intricacies of running 800 meters solo vs a 4 man relay team vs a 100 meter sprint. As far as I could tell, you just run like hell around the track until it's time to stop.
Clearly, over the years I have gained an appreciation for fitness and athleticism through my own love of cycling. I have so much more respect for athletes and for sport itself, having finally tasted competition/victory/defeat for myself. It's taken a long time, but I get it now.
This year, more than ever, I have been transfixed by the Olympics, much like I was transfixed (and inspired) by that track meet at Henderson two years ago. Although I've always been into some aspects of the Games (gymnastics when I was a little kid, for sure) and can recall some of the more noteworthy, storied Olympic moments (I don't know why I remember Mary Decker's fall in '84), I never made a point to watch every night.
However, The London Games have found the three of us winding down together at the end of each day with swimming, diving, gymnastics, cycling, power lifting, boxing, track and field, whatever we can catch that night. While I constantly ply Bill with questions about running (what are their shoes like? how come they start in that position? how do they train for that?), Max is busy admiring the girls (and their "tight, shiny suits") on the balance beam and uneven bars. I also believe it's no coincidence that my son has become incredibly brave and confident in the pool these past few weeks. We've witnessed records being broken and seen some ridiculously badass displays of strength and skill in all kinds of disciplines. I like that my kid is curious and excited about sports.