Somewhere, and on some far and distant and nearly invisible horizon I can see, if I look hard enough an alternate reality wherein I am that self and that competitor that occupies the delusional and illusory reels of fantastical dreamscape that are ever playing out in the warped caverns of my own mind. I see podium finishes, eternal glory, and the adulation of sycophantic wannabes that are content, even ecstatic, to merely be in my presence.
And then one of the kids will vomit in their bed, and I am once again just a dad, living in the forgotten fringes of athletic achievement and relativity.
But those dreams, those delusions, and that warped, overly admirable sense of self and ability are, I believe, a necessity and a blessing. A small part of a larger fire that motivates each of us to train and to race and to walk out onto the thin ice of competitive uncertainty and declare with confidence and pomp and circumstance that “this is who I am.” And in so doing we open ourselves to the critique and the mockery of all who watch and point and pundit and snort from the sidelines or from the been-there-done-that space of authoritarian asshattery. Year after year, spring after spring we come back, a little faster, a little wiser, and leaps and bounds more anticipatory and phantasmic and filled with light and hope than ever before. Asshats be damned.
Each approaching season comes with unlimited and indefinite possibility. Like spring itself, our vision quests and self aggrandizing hallucinatory apparitions are brought to life anew, in vibrant and overwhelming living color. So real that the dust of summer and the smell of pine and the pain of digging deep wake us from sleep in the dead of night, filling our minds and hearts with energy and clarity and an unquenchable thirst for the heat of the moment and that the pursuit of unseen ghosts that lurk around the next corner and deep in the aspen singletrack.
And each year those mythical visions creep a little closer to reality, until at last we can nearly feel them at our fingertips, there for the taking.
One can only go so long without the natural and physical euphoria of competition. And so I find myself impatiently stomping and huffing and puffing and otherwise squirreling away any energy and fitness and motivational fuel I can find. Hoping that when that time comes to empty the tank, that I will have the legs and lungs to match the mental enthusiasm I am so readily developing.
In the blink of an eye we will find ourselves on that first start line of 2010.
And so, here’s to turning the chimerical into the commonplace.