I've had this in my head for a couple days, but haven't had time to get it down. For those who missed it, and shame on the media for making this no more than a passing mention, a promising young US marathoner, Ryan Shay, passed away during Saturday's Olympic marathon trials. This is an incredibly sad story for a lot of reasons and I think should serve as a good reminder to all of us that we're not invincible.
I was that athlete that for a long time that assumed I was the picture of health and fitness. I did something athletic 6 or 7 times a week, I raced regularly, my resting heart rate was below 40, I never got sick... there was no need to go to the doctor... nothing to see here. When I turned 30, I promised myself I'd go just because it had been so long and it was the right thing to do. Once I finally got around to going about 6 months later, my blood pressure was something like 180 over 115. There's a very good chance that I was well on my way to being that distance runner that just dropped one day without warning. My wife hates when I say that, but there's some family history to back up the fact that it definitely could have happened. Fortunately now I know and things are well under control. Now I'm in no way trying to say that Ryan Shay was irresponsible with his health because all reports are that it was quite the opposite. He knew about a heart condition, but was cleared to run because they thought they understood the reasons for his enlarged heart. Who knows if they missed something. Now it's probably not worth arguing about whether they did. The point is though that being able to push your body as an athlete does not mean that your body wants you to. The best you can do is not just assume everything is fine and make sure you know. Be proactive about your health and your body because knowing what's going on is never a bad thing.