“Someday you will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.”
Recently, one of my triathlon reads posted a compilation of inspirational quotes, mostly geared toward endurance athletes. Dane Rauschenberg’s spoke to me more than most of the others. I recognize the simple truth that there are the born athletes (the Lance Armstrongs and Paula Newby-Frasers of the world) and then there are the rest of us — we who work a little bit harder to turn out even a short-course event.
But each of us who stands on a beach at 7:58am, surrounding by 30 other people in neoprene and lycra, waiting for the horn to send off our wave, competes for different reasons. We each have our own motivation, our own inspiration.
What gets me out of bed at 4:45 most mornings, so I can get in a 70-minute workout before the day starts? What pushes me to have a negative bike split with a headwind home? What fuels me to put another race on the calendar?
There are many things that keep me racing. But today, my dogs are one of my greatest sources of inspiration.
Meet the Lab and the Poodle. Both are five years old and accompany me on most snowshoe treks, and on the periodic trail run.
Few things are as inspiring as watching a lab dive through a forest, deftly avoiding trees, while jumping, accelerating, and turning on the most fleeting scent caught in the air. As The Great Morel contributor, Dan Wood, says about the necessity of taking a lab with you when hunting morels: “wow [they] are fun to watch run like the wind through the woods.”
Poodle, on the other hand, can’t bomb through the woods with the grace that Lab does, but his sheer boundless (bounding?) energy amazes me. Poodle never walks. His speeds are (1) standing and (2) running. There’s a tree four yards away I should check out? Let’s dash over and see what’s going on!
I look at these boys — my boys — and see incredible athletes. No matter the day, or the time, they are up for a run. And no matter how long we’ve gone, they keep plugging along, albeit maybe a few paces slower than when we started. They have heart. And they never question why they are running. They simply go out and run. And for that, they are beautiful athletes.
I aspire to be like my dogs. To find heart in competing. To not know the meaning of “quit”. To go out with enthusiasm every single time.
This is my inspiration. Because one day, I will not be able to do this. Thankfully, it’s not today.
And for my more competitive-minded triathlete friends, the tri read gave us this one too:
“Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.” —Tom Fleming
Retro re-post of the day: A Past Life.
Retro re-post bonus: Mind the Gap (or, The Next Generation).