Saturday, January 30, 2010

The beauty of losing

New season. New sport. A new way to lose.

I've always been a relatively average triathlete, and after several years of spreading that mediocrity amongst three sports I have decided to put all of my efforts into one activity. My plan is to focus on cycling for this next season and see where that takes me. I mean, it's simple math. If I am a 5 out of 10 in three separate things and I spend the same amount of time training each week in only one thing... Well, presto. 15 out of 10.

As I found out this past weekend at the Tour of New Braunfels, this may not exactly be the case. I was, what cyclists commonly call, pack fill. Kind of towards the front, but ultimately not a factor in the results. Basically, a mirror of my triathlon career. That's OK, really... I would like to share with you all a little secret that I stumbled upon some years ago. It's something that has kept me coming back to the sport. A ridiculously simple way of looking at things, and one of the easiest ways to build speed... Get dropped! Get lapped! Run, ride or swim with people faster than you and when you ultimately fail, get excited! Not every day, but certainly put yourself into that situation occasionally. Don't ever fear it.

Losing a wheel and not have anything left is a beautiful thing, because we are never more alive. Drooling, slobbering, form out the window. Or maybe in silence, watching the group in front of you drift away. To be at your absolute maximum. To push beyond that, even for an instant and then crack spectacularly is the secret and basis for not only truly knowing who you are, but also for figuring out how to last a second, an inch or lap longer. Go out and get dropped. Come back, get dropped again. Repeat.

Endurance sports aren't about overnight success. We may sometimes trick ourselves and certainly some people have a natural inclination for the sport, but ultimately it takes time... It takes years... It takes flippin' forever... It's really not a thing for the impatient, I guess. The key is to embrace losing and secretly savor the feeling. It's better than doing taxes, or grocery shopping, or watching TV. In fact, it's better than pretty much most things.

I'm a dude. I haven't cried in a decade at least. I laugh at awkward times and don't really ever get angry. There are so few venues in our society that allow us to reach the bottom of everything we are, both physically and mentally. We just don't really have that opportunity very often. So when it comes along, savor it. With each loss we get a little faster, a little wiser, and we learn to better appreciate our victories.

In other news, I just purchased a sick (that means awesome, you squares) new Felt road bike. It's pretty much gonna change my life forever. Above is a picture of the lovely beast.

It's sorta like I'm Avatar, and my bike is that big bird thing that the Avatar guy jumped on to get respect from all of the other Avatars. It's how I'm going to unite all the Cat 5 cyclists at my bike races. Inevitably, they will proclaim me their leader and escort me across the line... Or maybe I'll just keep learning how to be an awesome loser on a shiny new bike. Either way, I'm having a blast.



Coach Tammy said...

Sick post! ;)

Steve said...

Dude, you're awesome. Love the post.

Anonymous said...

Been thinking about this a lot...
and maybe it's your amateur hair that's holding you back.