Radiolab’s “Limits” episode literally explores what happens when the body, mind… and science are pushed to capacity. I’ve subscribed to several free podcasts since I started taking the bus in June and this is definitely one of the best 60 minutes of talk I’ve heard in a long time. (Hear it after the jump – or flop, in this case…)
Let me assure you that I’m not advocating that you literally push yourself to death, but it’s fascinating to see what happens to people who toe that line. After hearing this episode (originally aired April 16th), watching a guy’s head gush blood in a UFC fight on TV, and keeping tabs on the Ford Ironman Louisville this past weekend, I was inspired to share these phenomena, particularly the podcast embedded below in three parts. Radiolab rarely disappoints, but just hearing Julie Moss begin her inaugural-Ironman story in the first few minutes is gripping.
Limits of the Body (embedded audio):
[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/radiolab/radiolab041610a.mp3|titles=Limits of the Body – 31min]
There are a dozen other people and things I could mention about this episode, but I was particularly captivated by the head-voices and hallucinations of some of these competitors. While Moss’s voice told her, “Get up,” as she was collapsing just yards from the finish line, Patrick Autissier’s told him to “Stop” halfway through the Race Across America (30% longer than the Tour de France and solo racers finish in half the time with no rest days or stages). In the podcast, Physiologist Dr. David Jones tells you how to trick the voice in your head that tells you you’re exhausted.
The second segment is equally intriguing. We hear about “Mr. S” from the Soviet Union in the 1920s whose memory seemed to have no limits…
Limits of the Mind (embedded audio):
[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/radiolab/radiolab041610b.mp3|titles=Limits of the Mind – 17min]
Limits of Science (embedded audio):
[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio.wnyc.org/radiolab/radiolab041610c.mp3|titles=Limits of Science – 11min]
In case you’re considering subscribing to some podcasts (iPods and iPhones aren’t the only devices that can play them), OnPoint and Diane Rehm are my favorite “cutting edge news context” shows; KEXP Music that Matters and The Album Project are respective weekly and semimonthly new music compilations; NPR Music Reviews does something similar about once a month, but they also have short 3 to 9 minute album reviews several times a week; Savage Love is a weekly sex advice call-in show – nuff said. The iTunes Store has all of these for free.
This is my 2000 Philly Marathon finish line picture. For me, it was a once in a lifetime experience (my knees couldn’t take another one), and certainly 3 1/2 hours that I’ll never forget. Hats off to the pros who compete in Ironman competitions (a back-to-back-to-back 2.4mi swim, 112mi bike ride, and 26.2mi run) month after month – and to my Uncle John: my original triathlon inspiration.