NYT has coverage today of Diana Nyad, a woman in her 60's who is planning on swimming from Cuba to Florida. 103 miles. That's my swim across Lake Washington, repeated approximately 73 times!
There are a few things I find remarkable about this story.
One is the focus on her as a woman in her 60's. The claim that older athletes may be better distance athletes. The idea that the wisdom and experience of age, combined with years of base building, can make the slightly older athlete a better endurance athlete. I've always thought of myself as someone with more endurance than speed. It may be that my parents gifted me with more slow-twitch muscle fiber than fast-twitch. My lineage of Russian and Turkish Jews does not breed sprinters. As I approach 40, I would love to age into a practiced endurance athlete.
Another focus of the story is on her saftey in what are assumed to be shark infested waters. Having just finished Fearless Swimming for Triathletes (review coming in the next week or so), I know that the incidence of shark attack on humans is very low. There are things they will do for Diana to make it lower, but in general, this is not her biggest risk. It plays well in the media, however, and that is probably part of the reason for its coverage.
Finally, the article mentions that she will eat "predigested protein." This just sounds icky to me. So I turn to the source for all things- google! Turns out that body builders use this, and the "predigesting" is done by adding the right enzymes to the protein, not a human or some other animal having to re-regurgitate it. Phew! It isn't as icky as it sounds.
I wish her luck with the swim, it will be interesting to see if she can make it.