Tuesday, October 14, 2008


you know that many things will happen on race day.

the starting gun will go off, the crowd will surge en masse, and you'll be struggling through a seething mass of bodies all lunging for space to move. once you've done that, you'll be buffeted by waves, a random assortment of arms and legs, the glare of the sun, and the throbbing whistling bubbling hissing of the water, all acting to make you lose your sense of direction. you'll swallow water, choke, and also flail.

once out of the water, you'll be staggering to regain equilibrium, just to get balanced on the bike, and even then, there's going to be potholes, and cracked pavement, and glass and rocks and chips and stones and nails and random collateral debris, with the refuse of bottles and wrappers and drinks and food of other competitors, all serving to make an obstacle course of miles. you'll have flats, you'll lose tires, you'll even crash.

and when you get to the run, things will hurt. the shoes won't fit. the clothes will chafe. the ground will feel like a sledgehammer. and your digestive system will be looking to give you payback for everything you've done today. and things will just go on and on and on and on, all adding to make for a very long time exposed outdoors. you'll slow, you'll walk, you'll stop, you'll even vomit.

and none of this includes the other things that will happen. the course the elements the people the day. hot and cold, wind and rain, sun and fog. and everything feeling like it's uphill and many mountains to go.

but for all this, in spite of all this, you also know something else: that you will go on.

you'll swallow water, thrash in the waves, but you'll get your bearings and find your way. even if it means stopping to look every other stroke.

you'll get a flat, crash onto the road, but you'll collect yourself and get back in the saddle. even if it means you're riding on rims packed with dirt and leaves.

you'll slow you'll walk you'll even stop, but you'll catch your breath and start again. even if it means you're taking it just one step at a time.

you'll face everything, but you won't quit. even if it means you're on hands and knees and gasping and tired and sore and weak and in tears, and doing nothing more than an agonizing imperceptible crawl.

because you also know one other thing, and it's one of the few things that makes any difference in this world--or any other--and it's one of the great truths of life:

there is only one finish, and it is ahead, and there is only one way to get there.

and it is forward.

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