Monday, August 29, 2005

Accenture Musings: The Day After

Suffice it to say that I’d have made my 2:30 goal if I’d been smarter about where I started in my swim wave. It took me a good 300 yards – and 4 minutes - to maneuver through the slower swimmers in front of me and gain some clear water. And a fade in the run’s last mile didn’t help, though Karyn tells me I faded because I RACED the course the way I was supposed to. No holding back, no leaving anything in reserve. Racing until that last drop of energy is used crossing the finish line and then collapsing utterly spent.

But I’m not going to regale you with a minute-by-minute, beginning-at-3:00 A.M. account of my day. No triathlon logistics, no “I did this and then I did that…” That’s not what yesterday was all about.

Instead, let’s make it about time’s passage, something I’m feeling more acutely than ever. Another effect of turning 50, I guess. Races are not just races any more. They’ve become transcendent milestones on a personal journey, another set of remarkably vivid memories added to the banks, another emotional pang as I remember days gone by.

I’ll soon forget the logistics and my quirks and foibles. I’ll forever remember the weekend spent with good friends, the absolutely pristine weather, the delicious feeling of jumping into Lake Michigan’s cool waters, flying up and down Lake Shore Drive and, finally, that amazing, cheering, stretch to the finish line. I’ll remember the perfect late-summer day that can never be re-lived.

Though I can’t claim to be aware of it at the time, what seemed to matter the most yesterday was adding another layer of personal growth and maturity to this bizarre creature called Vertical Man. Reflecting, renewing the spirit, appreciating the precious gifts of friendship, health and vitality – these, not some trivial details - are what’s noteworthy 24 hours later. Come to think of it, that’s what matters most in life too. But it’s never too much to ask a “mere sport” to help keep you centered. Why bother, otherwise?

I’ve never talked to a professional triathlete, but I wonder if they ever ponder the wondrous gift they’ve been given? In a hectic schedule's precious moments of downtime, do they appreciate the human body, with all of its capacity for joy and beauty, strength and endurance? Are they aware of just how painfully fleeting it all is? Maybe so. Perhaps I should give them more credit. But they’re all so impossibly young and these are reflections more typical of someone, well, let’s just say “more advanced chronologically."

So, yes I had a good race. I’m proud of what I accomplished and grateful to all who helped me along the way. But it wouldn’t be complete to just report on a “race” and leave it at that. The race is just a vehicle for…something more. A time machine, maybe.

What’s that you say? “Wow, Vertical Man, you get all that from a triathlon?” Oh yeah, that and a whole lot more. It’s healthier and more fun than therapy. It’s outdoors. You get to use all sorts of cool stuff that you’ve assembled at considerable cost. And the people you hang out with are so damn good-looking it adds a certain spring to your step. Sorry if that sounds a little shallow. Well, no I'm not.

ADDENDUM: I guess I'll have to stop complaining about losing weight. It certainly didn't hurt my power-to-weight ratio yesterday. My body must've known something before my brain got with the program. I'm throwing the scale in the trash and, for now, my weight is what it is.


Comm's said...

I sometimes wonder what tack to take when going over a race report or just a training event. I think you have tapped into what Wil gets so naturally, its not just the minute to minute, its the journey to excellence that has no end.

Wil said...

This is by far my favorite of your race reports! And I love that you trashed your scale - you look good, you feel good, you race good (ok - "well" English teacher, can't help it -- sorry), so who cares about the number on the dial.

OK, unless you drop under 140, then I'm force feeding you a Big Mac.

mipper said...

love this post. really amazing!

Keryn said...

You and Wil must share a brain. This is a very reflective post. Thank you for sharing the unique view of a triathlon. :)

Al said...

Your words created a great, thought provoking post. This is why I read you and Wil and the Tri Geek Kahuna. As a 55 year old, middle of the packer I do because I still can, and continue to believe that I can squeeze a bit more of the potential that is still locked in this aging body and mind and also hope for a glimpse now and then of a deeper meaning and insight. Thanks for yours!

Flatman said...

Wow, this was an amazing race for you. We can all derive that from this post! I am happy that you are so happy about racing...keep up the good, no great attitude and make next year even better!!!