The Olympic Games happen every four years. And every four years, since I was a small child sitting on the couch next to my mom cheering for gymnastics and following the swimming with my dad who was a swimmer in high school, nothing much has changed for me whenever they roll around. Until this year.
I still watch – with my own children sitting next to me now – cheering on the women’s gymnastics team and hoping they win gold; cheering and appreciating amazing performances from top gymnasts from all over the world; cheering on our swimming team; watching the diving; watching volleyball in all its forms; and being fascinated with glimpses of other not-so-popular sports when there is prime time coverage. But this year something has changed.
This year, I’m also watching track and field events.
Four years ago, I was not a runner. Four years ago, I was overweight and unhappy with my life. Four years ago the only thing I didn’t watch in the summer Games was the track and field. I even remember being irritated with Hubby who ran track in high school wanting to watch.
Now, I’m a runner. And I can’t get enough of watching the amazing athletes. And I’m answering questions and correcting the misconceptions from my daughter about ‘why they are running so slow’ because it’s fifteen hundred meters instead of one hundred. I’m appreciating the difference between a sprint, a middle distance and a long distance and am inspired and awed by those who do multiple events.
I guess one could extrapolate from this that it only takes four years to fundamentally change your life. Thank god I have the Olympics to measure the distance I’ve come from that other girl who ran the corners and walked the straights hoping just to pass the required mile in P.E. class in junior high. The one who took dance the next year so I wouldn’t have to run. Who drove aimlessly through parking lots as an adult looking for the closest spot so I wouldn’t have to walk so far. I like my new life and how I feel and appreciate how much effort it has taken me to get here from there. I’m strong. I’m fit. And that makes me powerful. And although my body isn’t perfectly chiseled, and there are always setbacks along the way that constantly test my will, I’m still active and I’m still a runner. That fact alone means I will live longer and feel better than that old girl I used to be. More Olympics to watch that way, too!