Sunday, September 4, 2011

Crumbling Will or Smart Racing - Today's Harriman Trail 10 Miler

There's a scene in the fantastically campy 1985 bike racing movie American Flyers (montage) where Kevin Costner's character - in leather hairnet, mustache, and the twilight of his pro career - shows his younger brother a video of the imperceptible moment in a previous year's stage race when he lost his drive - where he essentially handed the win to someone else.

I was thinking about this scene on-and-off this morning as I made my way through the Harriman Trail 10 Miler.  While on paper I had a great race - finishing 5th overall and only a handful of minutes down on the winner - I was left wondering about my will - not to win, per se, since that's rarely a chance I have, but to suffer and to excel.  

What really brought this issue into relief for me was the lead woman who paced off me for much of the race.  Now, she was suffering, and to a much greater degree than I knew I was. Yet she hung in there, huffing and puffing, right on my heels, until the last couple miles, where she barely lost contact.  

Despite a few surges, and a few tests, I just couldn't put myself through that today.

And maybe it was simply smart racing.  A hard, uphill 10 miles is on the edge of my fitness with the reduced miles I've been putting in, and one of my main goals was to race hard but also not to blow up and have the wheels fall off.  So I was constantly doing the self-checks - taking stock of all the sensations to make sure I had the legs, lungs, and energy to finish well.  

I accomplished that, which feels great - but not without concern that something's changed inside, that I've turned some corner when it comes to the will to excel, that I've become Kevin Costner in American Flyers.  The horror.  The horror.  


Gretchen said...

I think even the contemplation of this question indicates that you haven't lost any will to excel. Sounds like this wasn't one of those races that you'd been training for all year with big expectations, yes? You had worthy goals and you nailed them. I'm going to go with "smart racing."

You also get extra awesome points for referencing American Flyers and Heart of Darkness in the same post. I love this blog.

Stacy said...

Ditto Gretchen's comment. You had a great result yet are hungry for more? That's all to the plus. I'm happy your running is going so well.

Hank Dart said...

@Gretchen and @Stacy, thanks for the feedback - literary and motivational. It's been a good season, for sure, so maybe I'm just getting greedy for more. Plus, when you get a chance to write about bad Kevin Costner pictures, you have to grab the opportunity.