New York Times’ health blogger Tara Parker-Post created quite a stir on a blog post last week. It’s rare that someone speaks out about the presumed physical inactivity of cancer survivors, however, Parker-Post sifted through a recent study to ascertain, “Obesity and physical inactivity are linked with a lower quality of life among cancer survivors and may increase the risk of the cancer coming back or death from the disease.”
The Well blog quickly drew over 100 comments, many from cancer survivors. The majority of the comments were complaints that cancer survivors and those recently diagnosed should not be concerned with calorie intake and overall fitness. Parker-Post responded with “The Well Podcast: Cancer and Exercise.” It is an eight minute podcast with “Leslie Bernstein, a noted cancer and exercise researcher from the City of Hope cancer center in Duarte, California.”
Wow! I would be ecstatic to have 119 comments for any of my blogs, but at what price? Where should Parker-Post have drawn the line? It seems like people are always so eager to attack. Are those who have cancer or have survived cancer a protected class? Isn’t obesity a factor in most diseases? Don’t we know enough about the effects of poor nutrition and lack of activity? The truth hurts. I run almost every day. I’m still overweight. Running and weight training make me feel great. My problem is Papa John and Grandma Shearer (potato chips) make me feel great too. With bad genetics, I am a walking time bomb. I have lost fifteen pounds since I started Weight Watchers and I continue to work on what goes in my mouth.
My point is this: Don’t attack people who are stating the obvious. I am genetically built for heart disease. I have high blood pressure. Maybe not as swift as cancer, but both are killers. Why wouldn’t I want to do all I can to prolong my life? Maybe Parker-Post won’t motivate many, but she might make a difference for a few.
This past Monday, a 29-year-old Kenyan, Robert Cheruiyot, bested the field of 25,000 runners to win his third consecutive Boston Marathon and his fourth overall. Cheruiyot’s story is inspirational. Overcoming extreme poverty and abandonment as a youth, he became the first Kenyan to ever win four Boston Marathons. I am captivated by his story of triumph. However, I am even more intrigued by an article I read in the New York Times about cheaters.
The Boston Marathon is one of the most difficult marathons to enter. After running became hip in late 1970’s, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) implemented a strict qualifying system. The race has a narrow start and can’t handle as many racers as other marathons. And with stricter rules, come the cheaters.
According to BAA spokesman, Marc Chalufour, some runners qualify for the race and sell their starting spots. The BAA checks sites like eBay and Craigslist for culprits. They recently caught a sale on eBay. They also count on runners to blow the whistle on those not running the straight and narrow. A major problem with those purchasing starting spots is the field is set according to qualifying times. This means a fat hack runner like me, who runs three miles in the time Cheruiyot runs eight, can purchase a spot in the front of the pack. Since I’m twice the size of some of these runners, I may cause some major problems at the beginning of the race.
By limiting the number of qualifiers, the Boston Marathon has become the most prestigious running race. It is the Tour de France of running. By the way, Lance Armstrong ran this year’s race in 2:50:58, more than 40 minutes behind Cheruiyot. But aren’t cheating and capitalism what we, as Americans, stand for. If you can sell a grilled cheese sandwich that exhibits the imprint of Jesus Christ’s face on eBay, why couldn’t you sell your starting place at the marathon? Look, I run local races and I can’t stand those snobby, skinny runners that finish the race and run back on the course and soon pass me on their warm down. Because a stout runner like me could buy a spot in the front of the pack at a race like this, makes life seem a little fairer.
Politicians cheat. Corporations cheat. We know professional athletes cheat. Why can’t the average guy have some fun?
I am so tired of hearing about athletes gaining an unfair advantage. The entire winter was dominated by Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Capitol Hill. Not too long ago, I anticipated trades and acquisitions. Who would my beloved Yankees add to the roster?
Now, the Germans are upset because they can’t wear their Speedo LZR Racer swimsuits. It seems the suit offers an unfair advantage. Swimmers wearing the suit have only broken 22 world records since it was introduced in February. I guess you can call that an unfair advantage, but who cares? Let them wear the suit at this year’s Olympics. No one took John Belushi’s “Little Chocolate Donuts” away after he shattered world records in the decathlon.
Look, I swam in high school and had to sport the traditional Speedo swimsuit. You know the one. George Castanza (You remember the Hamptons) would have cringed at the thought of popping out of the pool after a race in that suit. Nothing can scar a young swimmer more than putting your “shrinkage” on display in front of female swimmers and fans. I swam faster, so I could put my warm-ups sooner.
Of course the real problem here isn’t the suit. The problem is money. The German swim federation can not break its deal with Adidas, which runs through 2009. German swimmers are now devastated. According to a Yahoo article, German Coach, Orjan Madsen, said the swimmers are now psychologically damaged. They will not be able to perform as well as they could with the suit.
Once again, big business and special interest are ruining the true spirit of competition. Believe me – I think it’s great that the federation can sign a $6.2 million deal with Adidas, but who really benefits? The swimmers are amateurs. They are not making money to swim. The Olympics was one of the only competitive arenas not tainted by big money contracts. I guess that arena is shrinking!