Sunday, March 4, 2012

THE RACE: Athletes I'd Like to Have Drinks/Dinner With...

You know that cocktail party question "What famous people would you like to have dinner with?"  Well, I was thinking about this the other day, but in the context of athletes because athletes - as opposed to "regular" people - seem to be the topic of conversations amongst my circle of friends.  So I started thinking about what five athletes I'd like to have dinner with...but I had a hard time limiting the list to five. So I came up with ten athletes (alive or dead) who I'd love to have drinks/dinner with...And let me say, I think it'd be a wild evening!

  1. Lance Armstrong:  Of course he's got to be on the list.  If you're not inspired by Armstrong's story, you have some synapses misfiring.  Not just a cancer survivor, but a survivor of a particularly hellacious cancer.  Then, he won seven Tour de France titles, started the Livestrong foundation for cancer survivors and their families, started the yellow cancer band craze (of which I've bought probably 100 over the years), and, oh, now has transitioned into triathlons.  He took 2nd place at the 70.3 Ironman in Panama this year (his first big professional race) and has three other 70.3's planned for this year.  He plans on competing in Ironman France and is hoping to qualify for Kona.  Not a bad resume and life story, huh?  I'd love to ask him which is harder - the Tour de France or Ironman - and find out what motivates him.  Plus, he'd be a blast to have at a party!  
  2. Mark Grace:  My all-time favorite baseball player.  Number 17 played for sixteen years for the Chicago Cubs (my favorite baseball team) until he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Good-looking, fun-loving, and a consistently amazing first baseman, he holds the record for most hits and most doubles in the 1990's.  He's one of those rare players who played with the same joy he had as a kid and always managed to get a laugh out of people on the field.  And I have to admit that I have all of his Cubs baseball cards, including one of his little league cards.  I think he and Armstrong would be the lifes of the party.  I'd love to ask him how he managed to keep his childlike spirit.  
  3. Brendan Brazier:  Vegan and former professional Ironman triathlete.  Brazier has written the book - literally - on a whole foods, plant-based diet and how it can improve your health.  I'd love to pick his brain about vegan food/nutrition and endurance training.  
  4. Bethany Hamilton:  The teenage surfer you probably know because of her shark attack in Hawaiian waters that took her left arm.  The movie Soul Surfer chronicles her attack, her recovery, and her rise back to become a professional surfer. What impressed and moved me about her story was her faith.  Even at such a young age, she put her faith front and center to get her through.  She's truly an inspiration for young and old.  I'd love to ask her how she maintained her faith in the face of such tragedy and find out what it took for her to overcome her situation.  
  5. Brett Favre:  My all-time favorite favorite football player.  Favre, like Mark Grace, was that rare combination of childhood joy and unflappable skill.  Favre holds the NFL record for most consecutive starts, which is a feat given the beating that football players take.  I'd love to ask him how he fought through the pain to muster the strength to start each game.  
  6. Jackie Robinson:  The first player to break major league baseball's color barrier.  How could you not want to talk to him?  The courage it took for him to step into that barrier-breaking spotlight, the death threats he received...all just to play the game he loved.  I'd want to know how he withstood that pressure and hatred.  
  7. Louis Zamperini:  The subject of the best selling book "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand, Zamperini was a 1936 Olympian in the 5000m, and then two years later set a collegiate record for the mile distance which held for 15 years.  He later joined the Air Corps as a bombardier during WWII.  His plane crashed in the South Pacific and he and his fellow survivors withstood 47 days floating in the ocean on rainwater and hand-caught fish.  They were then picked up by the Japanese and he was held for nearly two years where he was repeatedly beaten.  He eventually returned home to a hero's welcome.  Zamperini, now 95 years old, is an inspirational speaker - and inspiration barely begins to describe him.  He embodies the true meaning of endurance and I'd love to ask him where he found the strength and resilience.  
  8. Mirinda Carfrae:  Ironman world champion and kickass professional triathlete.  Most professional triathletes - unlike a lot of other professional triathletes - seem like "real" people, and Mirinda seems like one of the "real-est."  She's spotted at other Ironman events supporting her boyfriend, Tim O'Donnell (my boyfriend got a picture with her before his Ironman Texas, and then he saw her wandering through the crowds at my Ironman Arizona).  I'd love to find out how she manages to keep it real...And find out she developed her awesome run form. 
  9. Martina Navratilova:  I was a huge tennis fan growing up and the ongoing battle between Navratilova and Chris Everett dominated the headlines of the day.  They both took women's sports to the forefront and showed what tough competitors women can be.  Navratilova won 9 Wimbledon titles and 18 grand-slam singles titles; but, her toughest battles weren't fought on the tennis court.  In 2010 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and in 1981 she came out publicly about her sexual orientation - both of which are difficult things for a person to go through publicly.  On every level, she epitomizes grit and endurance, and I'd love to know how she always manages to ace any obstacles in front of her.  (She's also been cast on Dancing With the Stars this season, so I'd totally want to know what goes on behind the scenes on that show!).
  10. Scott Jurek:  Last, but certainly not least, is vegan ultra-runner Scott Jurek.  His calm, low-profile demeanor coupled with his spirit-like running form make him a running God.  I'd love to talk to him about how to transition into ultras, foot-strike, and vegan nutrition.  
What athletes (alive or dead) would you like to have for dinner/drinks...You don't have to come up with 10...

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