Mo and Me

The Olympics are over and Mo Farah and I are tired.  For two straight weeks I was up late watching people win medals. 

I am spent. 

I was full-on invested in the London Olympics this year, A to Zed.   Could not resist the media pull, and it was Ryan Seacrest, for goodness’ sake—I watched anyway.  I was cheering for Phelps.  I was sad for Jordan, elated for Gabby.  Loved the bit when that little Katie Ledecky started the 800 meters “too quickly” according to those close-talking announcers.  Missy Franklin, Serena-all-giddy, Allyson Felix.  David Boudia out-of-nowhere.   It was fun.  But there was a lot of water polo.  And if I hadn’t caught the opening and closing ceremonies, NBC would have had me believing that the Olympic participants were all US residents.

Maybe that’s why I liked the Mohamed Farah story so much: British Somali, crazy fast at the finish, wins at home in front of a princess, his big-disbelieving eyes, trademark move—arms in the shape of an “M” on the top of his head.  The fact that Rupp, his training partner and friend, won silver in the 10,000 meters was icing.  And at the end, on the track, when Mo hugged his daughter.  Come on. 

Before the race I said, “Wow!  10,000 meters.” 

Caroline said, “What?” 

I said, “They’re gonna be running for a while.” 

Lexi asked, “What time are they going to go home?”

I thought, they’ll certainly be going home a lot sooner than I would be going home if I were running this race.

 But it didn’t come to me until after Farah’s victory that a 10,000 meter race is, well, a 10K, and I sometimes run 10Ks.  In fact, I had fairly recently run one on June 2–the Zooma in Annapolis. 

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There were stark differences between the Olympic 10K and mine. 

Mo and his pals were running quickly.   His race began.  There was a commercial break.  Then three laps left. 

If my Zooma had been televised, there would have been pledge breaks for fundraising purposes, a 1-800 number flashing on the bottom of the tv screen, Ed Asner and Gavin McCloud cameo appearances.

While I did technically “train” for my run, much of the race-day preparation involved creating an iPod mix featuring 34 songs.  The average American song length is 4-minutes, so I was comfortable entering the “race” with 136 minutes of fresh music to get me through.  The first song?  I kid you not, Linkin Park: “Waiting for the end to come, wishing I had strength to stand”… spinning guitar, teasing piano, pounding drum, driving. me. methodically. forward.

It seemed like it took all morning.  This was my day’s event.  I got there at 7 a.m., and afterwards, it was lunch-time.  My husband and daughters met me at the finish like I’d been abroad. 

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I was at my in-law’s last weekend.  The Olympics were still pulling us all in, but I managed to get out for a jog.  I felt I had barely exercised since June 2—my summer opening ceremony—and now the closing, a few laps around the local track. 

I couldn’t help but think of Mo.  I couldn’t help but be him.  Nearby workmen painting a shed didn’t seem to notice my speed but I was fast. 

I’d actually spent more time untangling my iPod earbuds than I did running, but I finished.  I walked a victory lap.  I tested out trademark moves:  an “M” for Mommy on top of my head?  Usain’s lightning bolt? 

Lexi had come downstairs that morning, her hair freshly combed, a clean dress on, and I noticed as I followed her into the kitchen that she was slowing down a bit.  She looked away from her dad and grandma who were seated at the breakfast table.  She pushed her hair behind her ear, smiled slightly, poking her tongue to the side of her cheek.  Then she made her entrance.

That’s her trademark move, I thought.  Of course.  She’s been looking for Princess Kate on the telly for a fortnight.  She’s got this.  She can’t help but be the princess.

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The London Olympics, the first my girls will remember—upon reflection, that is why I’ve been so invested this year.  Criticism and cynicism aside.  It’s been an experience watching talented kids compete, with great success or not, with my own girls, developing interests, asking questions, processing,  sitting right there on the couch beside me. 

I had missed what Bob Costas said about Phelps not marching in the Opening Ceremony.  Lexi explained,   “Because he’s swimming with his friends tomorrow and he doesn’t want to be sleepy.”

One morning at their Grandma’s the girls woke up kind of late and groggy.  Caroline whispered to Lexi, “Let’s play the Quiet Game—you’re the United States of America and I’m Maryland.” 

We worked through that one….quietly; she decided on USA vs. Russia. 

Still deciding on our trademark moves.


One Comment on “Mo and Me”

  1. Daniel Foley says:

    Katie, I enjoyed this read. First, and foremost, I really do enjoy the sport of the olympics and did watch more this year than in years past – b/c NBC had several channels. I enjoyed watching the pommel horse, volleyball, and some basketball. I missed diving and swimming, unfortunately. Now, I gotta get a new iPod mix going so I can get off the couch for a walk……


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