The New York Times (to my surprise) did a very nice article and video this morning on a local running hero: Matt Carpenter. Be sure and watch the video.
Practically the first thing I heard about Matt was that he always won the Pikes Peak Marathon: 13 miles up, 13 miles down.
Local runners regard him as a freak of nature, which science has shown him to be:
"In part, Carpenter has owed his prowess to his physiology. His resting heart rate has been measured at 33 beats a minute, lower than those of Michael Phelps and many astronauts. In a test at the United States Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Carpenter’s VO2 max, a gauge of the body’s ability to process oxygen, registered at 90.2, perhaps a record high for a runner. (Only Bjorn Daehlie, a Norwegian cross-country skier, has scored higher. Lance Armstrong recorded an 81.)"
We know members of Matt's infamous Incline Club (the name is taken from a nearly vertical slash above Manitou Springs where a cog rail line used to run). Including a woman who placed second in the Pike's Peak Marathon and goes to my parish. The club motto: Go out hard; when it hurts, speed up.” Nothing like running up Pike's Peak in January to get the ol' blood flowing.
For most bloggers, especially Catholic bloggers, from the low-lands, this sort of stuff usually sounds like pure masochistic voo-doo. If not bordering on mortal sin. If we were athletes, we'd wouldn't be spending our time in front of a computer screen. Or buried in books or in movies. When was the last time you read something about ultra-marathons around St. Blogs? Food? Yes. Drink? Yep. All too often cigars. But hardly ever physical activity - unless it is someone else's activity - like watching professional football.
I'm still no athlete, but after 7 years in Colorado, I now serenely regard the sort of high level amateur sport that I once regarded as impossible or absurd as normal. Men and women in their 70's routinely ski, run marathons, climb mountains, snow-shoe around here. You watch that and find yourself thinking: "Maybe I, fourth generation couch potato that I am, could do that too."
Time to get going. Need to clean off my snow-shoes before I head to the gym . . .