The second remarkable woman is Diana Nyad who I have been following since she first started swimming long distances, way back in the day. When she turned 60 she decided to chase an old dream she had never been able to realize, that of swimming from Cuba to Key West, Florida. Her first attempt was 35 years ago and over the past three years she has made three more attempts but each time she had come up short. This time however, she did succeed and was able to make the swim in 52+ hours, faster than she thought was possible. The obstacles were immense and for once, the stars were in alignment for her and all went well. When everything was said and done she swam 103 miles as the crow flies but 110 on the water, all without the benefit of a shark cage. At age 64. Remarkable.
So what do these women have in common and why are they capturing my imagination? Anish was a book worm and not a athlete growing up, nor did she even exercise until adulthood, while Diana was a competitive swimmer and a life long athlete, so that isn't it. The length of the difficulty was different for both, one taking two months and the other under three days. One was on land, the other in water. On the face of it the events are very different but there is something happening here and I've been captivated - I guess what pulled me in is that they are so tough! Not tough in a mean or aggressive way but somewhere inside they were able to preserve through long and difficult journeys, were able to keep their eyes on the goal and focus. Extreme focus. Mental toughness. This is what has me enthralled.
At age 61, soon to be 62, Diana's feat gives me hope that my body might be able to withstand the physical challenges I will face if I decide to hike the PCT in 2014. Anish shows that mental toughness can help keep one focused over a longer time, in her case 60 days but for me would be closer to 141 days of walking.
When Diana staggered out of the water yesterday she was barely able to speak due to a swollen mouth and tongue but she did manage to say the following words..." I want to say thre things. First, We should never give up. Second, you are never too old to chase your dreams and third, this might look like a solitary sport but it takes a team." Words to live by.