This weekend, MM and I watched Nova: Marathon Challenge, which asked and subsequently answered the question, What happens when you take a group of novice runners – some overweight, all fairly sedentary – and train them to complete the Boston Marathon?
I never watch Nova. In fact, I rarely watch PBS (with the obvious exception of the Chicago show Check Please!). Luckily I subscribe – or somehow my email address found its way on – to about 20 different running e-Newsletters, so I found out about the program through the Internets and quickly set the Tivo. Tivo comes through per usual. Thanks Tivo. You’re the best.
Within about three minutes Nova had me hooked. Of course, I’m a sucker for a “triumph over the odds” story, and being one of those people who went from nada to running distance races as a lifestyle, it’s always inspiring to see people like me, particularly Betsy who arguably had the most physical barriers to running, but eventually became the fastest woman on the Nova team after dropping 40 pounds during training. See? Aren't you inspired?
Watching Marathon Challenge also made me wish I had a more of a quantitative record of my fitness level when I first started running. Sure I have this blog, which I started about five months after I took my first steps. That’s qualitative. I want numbers. Specifically, I want this number:
VO2max, theoretically, is the volume of oxygen a person can consume in one minute as he or she exercises at maximum exertion. In practice, it's measured by hooking up test subjects… to a breathing apparatus and having them run as hard as they can. In endurance sports, you rely on oxygen to convert the fuel you get from food into energy for your muscles. VO2max is usually expressed in terms of body weight (milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight), so merely losing weight can improve your score over time.Who even knew something like that could be measured?
Finally, I have a new idol. This woman – I think – has the career that I may someday want.
If you’re interested, you can watch Nova: Marathon Challenge online.
Do it. Do it.