Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Where the Road Meets the Sky

Thanks to Ken Stone for bringing some old tracksters to my little page. If you got here via that route you all know and appreciate how important Ken is to our sport.

(The following post is re-posted for visiting masters track athletes)

Every picture tells a story. Somebody said that once and now we all repeat it, feeling wise for having said it again.

When you look across the landscape or down the road as you drive to work, you will almost always see the place where one world intersects with another.

To understand this more vividly I want you to imagine one of those long dusty west Texas roads that stretch out in front of you until it disappears into the sky beyond. Or you can simply look at the one I provided on the left.

Do you see the intersection of road and sky?

That place, the convergence of the two, is what I am trying to get you to see. It’s where we are not sure if we are still in the present, or if it might be the edge of the future. It is the place in which our hopes, dreams and goals make their home.

Road or sky? It’s neither, and it’s both. It is a paradox, but it is a good place worth searching for.

This convergence is what sets the ambitious in motion; always looking to see what happens when we come to the place where the road and the sky meet.

Now go with me to a different place:

All of my workouts are designed to make me the best masters track athlete that I can become. I have a friend that pushes me in some of these workouts.

I am a sprinter on the track. My friend is more of an endurance and longer distance track and road racing athlete. Once a week or so we run together. He sharpens his speed, and I try to find more endurance. It’s what our culture is fond of calling ‘synergistic’ energy. Or, in corporate speak, ‘mutual goals obtained from a shared action’.

For me, the fancy talk isn’t necessary. I simply enjoy running with him. My friend is intensely private. Our interaction is not so much talk as it is just plain running. I actually know very little about his personal life or personal views.

I do know this. He is engaged in a consistent and energetic search for the place where the road and the sky converge. I like that about him. He is always looking forward at the prospect of what he might find if his quest is unyielding.

In the road racing community he is a bona-fide legend, putting up outstanding racing marks year after year. That’s not easy, and it is to be admired. He’s sort of the ‘Cal Ripken’ of road racing.

I have trouble keeping up on the grinding workouts that train the endurance systems. In fact, it often appears my friend is getting pleasure from watching me wear down as he shifts into what is merely his next available gear. He will push me to find his level, grinning and pushing, grinning and pushing, knowing that he has me right where he wants me, able to accelerate by me at any moment.

Some might take umbrage at his delight in finding my limits. I don’t. He’s just taking me along on the search. He knows that. I know it too.

I’m confident his happiness comes not from defeating me, but rather from sharing with me the process an athlete should never abandon. The search for the place where the road and the sky collide.

Thanks Bradley.

I pray we never get there. It’s too much fun searching.

Now I Get It.......maybe


Memphis said...

The last couple of times I went to the track for sprint work my hamstring informed me that he didn't share my enthusiasm for my dream of flying with my feet. Apparently I can sprint 50 yards with all my might all day long, but stretch it to 100 yards and things start to snap. Face slides on asphalt aren't my idea of fun, but I'm getting pretty good at them.

Seven said...

Yep...the masters track community can discuss hamstrings until you wish you didn't have one at'll fit right in...a second excuse will be required.

Memphis said...

Well, if I lived in Houston I think I might be interested. In Memphis when you see someone my age sprinting that hard there's either a cop or a gang banger behind them.