End of a remote interest in exercise


by admin on July 14, 2010

By Art Mantell

I’ve lost my pet peeve and it’s almost like losing an old friend. Years ago I read about this 84-year-old man who swam 2.4 miles, bicycled 112 miles, then ran 26.2 miles in an Ironman triathlon. He did it all in under 18 hours and was lauded for his physical stamina. Just reading about him made me steaming mad.

Now, to my way of thinking, no man in his right mind is going to subject himself willingly to what amounts to physical torture. His effort apparently called for four hours a day, every day, of super-intense training. Four hours a day! How can the besotted soul find time for television or making new friends on the Internet, I asked myself from my recliner armchair, drink in hand and remote at the ready.

You see, this went against everything I had believed in. I believed that your body had only so many moves in it and when you reached your limit, off you went – either up or down or somewhere. In keeping with this belief, I did – and do – virtually nothing physical on a day-to-day basis. Before this old fart of a marathoner came along, I was smug and superior about the exercise-ably insane. Whenever I drove past roadside struggling wannabe marathoners, their faces contorted in pain as they pushed themselves  unmercifully into sweat mode and, I thought, into an early grave, it was consoling. I felt smugly superior as I edged into my dotage.
Then the news that some nutbar was running and swimming and biking extraordinarily and living to tell the tale. My smugness vanished and I worried myself to the point I almost signed up with a phys ed club. My belief in benign neglect was a thing of the past. I worried about my lifestyle and almost converted.

Last week came redemption, again in the form of a newspaper story: Scientists had broken the gene code or something that revealed that a human’s life expectancy is governed by passed-on genes. If one has long-living parents, then that’s what one can expect – unless one is hit by a truck or something catastrophic takes one out.

So, reinvigorated on the slothful life, I Googled my ancient bete noire and found out that he was now known as the late Norval Davey. Seems the octogenarian triathlete managed to live only a year after his stunning endurance feat. The story says he died of liver cancer, but I suspect he went when his time came – just as the latest theory expounds.

And here’s an ironic footnote.  Norval Davey, oldster exerciser extraordinaire, lived in a housing development called “Leisure Village.”