Paul E. Anna: High Points
September 24, 2009
ASPEN – Inspiration for pursuing an athletic goal can come from many places.
You might be pushed by a coach, stirred by a parent, encouraged by a teammate, or motivated by an inner demon. But rarely does inspiration source itself in the pain of leg cramps, the drudgery of sleep deprivation, or the unsettled feeling that the stomach gets while exercising after a meal of chicken fingers and potato skins.
And yet, as I read Rick Carroll’s cover story in the Aspen Times Weekly this week, I found myself, well, strangely inspired.
In case you missed it (and you can still find the issue on the stands with Kayden Christensen’s evocative cover design), Rick wrote of his participation as a rookie runner in the Colorado Relay. Along with nine teammates, most of whom had experienced the race before, Rick ran 17 miles of assorted relay legs in a race that began in Georgetown and finished in Carbondale – 175 miles down the road.
The team, which adopted the name of “The Old Fartleks” in a pun that acknowledged both the age of the participants and the running drill that combines fast and slow intervals of exertion, finished second in the masters division with a time of 23 hours and 7 minutes. I guess seconds are superfluous when you’ve been running nearly all day.
Anyway, as a regular runner, jogger, trotter, or whatever you want to call me and the slow pace that I maintain on my daily sessions, what inspired me was that Rick wrote of his pain as a part of the process of achieving his goal. So often when we read sports stories the focus is on the achievement, the finishing first, the glory of the game. And Rick began his story with an allusion to just how many great athletes we have here in the valley and how fruitless a quest to be best really is because there is always someone better.
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But the meat of the story dealt with how hard it was to run and finish the race. His gasping for breath on the first hill, the leg cramps that began in his calves and soon snuck into his hamstrings as he ran solitarily through the night. His attempts to quell his heaving stomach by vomiting before his longest relay leg. All of this was stuff that I can relate to and none of it kept him from his appointed rounds. As he wrote of getting a second wind on his road to Dotsero, I actually began to feel better myself.
I won’t say that I was inspired enough to head to Dos Gringos and find myself a relay team over burritos for next year’s Colorado Relay. But when I lace up my shoes this afternoon for my run, jog, trot, or whatever you want to call it, I’ll know that if you stick with it, if you run through a little pain, things can get better.
And that is inspiring.