15 June 2004
I must’ve followed my coffee cup around the house ten times a couple weeks ago before I finally admitted defeat. There was no way I was going out in the pouring, 40-degree rain to get in my long run for the week. Even though I’m registered to run in Grandma’s Marathon here in Duluth, MN coming up on the 19th, I couldn’t summon up the studliness to venture outside. Dejected, I tromped down into the basement and tried to salvage something by jumping on the treadmill for a half hour or so.
Steve Prefontaine, well known distance runner from the 70’s supposedly said, â€œTo give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift.” This actually gets me out of bed at 6 AM. On a Saturday. But it won’t be the reason that I actually finish the 4 x 4 minute intervals later this year. The reason is in my gut, not in my head.
The cycling game has been pretty inspiring of late. I used to ride (don’t anymore) but I follow the sport like the mad Italian tifosi (cycling fans). A couple years ago, Tyler Hamilton, American cyclist, came in 2nd in the Tour of Italy after he’d wrecked earlier in the race. Turns out he had a broken shoulder. In the 2003 Tour de France, Tyler won a mountain stage with a broken collarbone. The press figured that this collarbone thing was a publicity stunt because there is no way impossible for a guy to ride the whole Tour with a broken collarbone. He actually had a press conference to show the x-rays. Yup, broken. I’m infinitely curious as to whether this kind of strength is in me.
I remember when I was a Nordic ski racer in high school, we would go out and do intervals. I think we actually called them â€œrepeats.â€ This was 1985 or so in Plymouth, NH and there was a guy from Middlebury College jumping into our workout with us. I think he was dating a girl that lived in town that used to be on our high school team before she graduated and went to Middlebury. We were going around a 1k loop as fast as we could and I seem to remember us doing about 10 of them. My coach was there with a clipboard and a watch. On just one of the 10 times around, I looked at the clipboard and I’d actually beaten the college guy. And he was from Sweden. And about 6 feet tall. Hey, man, I’d arrived and I couldn’t resist rubbing it in.
â€œHey, Ebbe, I beat you on one of these laps,â€ I said.
â€œYes, but I have a broken leg.â€
Turns out, he’d been double poling the whole way each time due to a fracture in his lower leg that he was trying to work around. There’s some motivation.
Everybody knows Lance Armstrong’s story. He stared right into the maw of Mr. Death. Look what he’s like now. What did he see?