As I write this, the Summer Olympics in Rio are almost over and I feel like I need a vacation.
It seems like only yesterday that I could easily endure two weeks of massive night time Olympic viewing in television (and even an hour or two in the afternoon on a day I felt particularly motivated) and still have some energy left for the eleven o’clock news.
This year the challenge to relive those days of my youth was a tough one.
I had been preparing since the last Olympics in 2012 where I felt more winded than usual after watching the women’s 4×4 four hundred meter relay.
I used to have no problem hanging in there after this event to watch the discus throw, even if it was taped and I already knew the results. But I turned off the television the second the last American runner crossed the finish line first.
I knew I wasn’t in my prime Olympics watching shape any longer and realized that if I was to even have a chance of making it all the way through to the last medal contest on Friday evening of the second week, then I’d have to start getting into shape then.
Of course, life got in the way early on…well for the first forty-six months anyway, and I put aside any thoughts of Olympics training. It wasn’t until I started hearing the news stories about the Olympics (Zika virus, polluted water, crime in Rio) that I realized it was closer than I had imagined and had let the opportunity to be in the best Olympics watching shape I had ever been in slip by.
Still, I live by the motto: “If you want something bad enough, there is nothing that can stop you from having it. Except, of course, that person that wanted it more than you.”
So, in mid June I went on a massive Olympics watching training regime so I could make it all the way to the Closing Ceremonies, something I had never done before even when I was in the prime watching shape of my mid-20s and early 30s.
I explained to my wife that I might be tough to live with for those next two months.
Basic house chores, interactions with family, friends and neighbors and the nightly pursuits towards the betterment of our own lives, would have to go on hold.
One positive aspect of all of this was that we already had the training equipment – A Netflix account.
The goal was to binge watch as many television series as I could through June and July. Eight to midnight each night and even the occasional 3-6pm in the afternoon shifts if I felt it wouldn’t take too much out of me.
It was a brutal training.
Every night at 8pm, I would take my place on the couch, a bowl of popcorn, maybe an apple and some peanut butter crackers for protein. I also made sure to have plenty of fluids on hand.
At first I knew I was going to have trouble. I made it through the first four episodes of Breaking Bad that first night but fell asleep on the couch halfway through the fifth.
What if that happened during the last set of five of an indoor volleyball match and I missed the outcome?
I’d have to kick it up a notch.
It wasn’t easy, but no matter how tired I got, I kept bringing myself around to consciousness when I felt myself dozing off. I was hard on myself, but I wasn’t going to be a quitter.
I made it through Breaking Bad and about thirty other television series and was finished training about three days before the games were to begin.
I needed to take a break before the start of the Olympics.
I decided against watching the opening ceremonies. I realize some who found out later might put an asterisk next to my achievement if I made it to the end, but I’d take my chances.
I am proud to say that I sit here today to write that I did it. I did have a few moments where I drifted out of consciousness but they lasted no more than five seconds, well within the Olympics watching rules.
The Closing Ceremonies are going to start in a few hours and I, in the spirit of gamesmanship, will stick it out.
In the meantime, I am off to watch the ending of the Timberman Triathlon right down the road from me.
I haven’t trained for this at all this year and I am only hoping my neck can hold up long enough, constantly turning left to right, to watch the athletes pass.
I’ll cheer them on even though I know that very few of them, if any, accomplished what I did at this year’s Olympic Games.
Visit Brendan’s website at www.BrendanTSmith.com