I woke up early this morning and got to watch Lance Armstrong win the final time trial of his career. It was a stirring moment for me - and to see him surrounded by his kids at the finish line did my dad's heart good as well. It made me feel like getting on a bike and riding for miles - up hills and down narrow lanes. Then I remembered I live in Oakland, not Paris.
It wasn't the first time I have been moved to fits of athletic pursuit. The first time I saw "Rocky" I went straight home and started lifting my older brother's weights. I even talked my father into putting a speed bag up in our garage. After a month or two, it started to collect dust. I became obsessed with running after "Chariots of Fire" - hearing Vangelis' score in my head as I pounded through the surf in slow motion. I still run, but now it's on the mean streets of the East Bay, and the soundtrack is more often Green Day than Vangelis.
I saw another form of exercise on television this week. I was watching "Rescue Me" - a wonderful piece of adult drama on FX if you watch TV - and watched the main character, an alcoholic played by Denis Leary, stand outside a liquor store. Abruptly after that, he was buying two big bottles, taking them home, pouring and drinking out of large glass tumblers. Then he was in a bar, drinking still more and nuzzling up with a woman who he eventually coaxes into the men's room for a quick trip around the horn. More drinking, then the trouble starts and then, magically, he's back outside the liquor store - shaking his head and walking away.
That scene reminded me of how incredibly hard it was to drink - at least the way I used to. It was a form of exercise - just a debilitating and ultimately empty form of working out. I was glad when the show was over that I gave that up. I could wake up early this morning and see Lance take the yellow jersey one more time. And then I went for a run - I listened to Green Day.