Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pushing Your Limits

Your body is the most powerful instrument you will ever own. Some of us push it to it's limits. I mean really truly push it to its 100% honest to goodness limit. Not just its one day limit and let it bounce back. What I'm talking about is the point where you're doing damage to it that is irreversible just because you want to know what it can do. A marathon runner doing hundreds of miles of running each week or cyclists that log 25 or more hours in a week of full throttle effort, you know what it is to push your limits. Oxidizing your body to the point that it screams at you all of the time to stop. It screams at you "quit this insanity now!" and you just tune it out with desire to know who you can overtake in your prized event.
The average life expectancy of a Tour de France racer is 15 years less than that of the average person. Over training on occasion is a must to really know your limits. Over training has known negative side effects on the body. None of that matters though to the athlete who HAS to get ahead. That has been me for a long, long, long time. After having done just that for long enough to know that my true physical boundaries are just a little bit off of what is needed to get a decent pay check, I've decided that the journey to determining that piece of information has been worth more than any kind of damage it could have done to my body. Really living has it's risks.
Barreling around extreme switchbacks during the Inner Loop stage at the Tour of the Gila, hoping to keep contact with the pavement, with multiple pounds of green guck in my lungs, maxed out from a massive effort to stay on through a few early climbs, sore from a wreck and extreme dehydration the day before, I was REALLY living! I've never felt more alive. The rational side of my head told me I was crazy for skidding my rear wheel on that last switchback at 45 miles an hour. The rational side of my head told me that I shouldn't be racing with the green guck that was coming out of me. The rational side of my head told me that I shouldn't put my body through such hell to keep onto the tail end of an amazing field that would almost assuredly beat me to the line anyways. Luckily, the little devil on the other side of my head wouldn't let me lose contact with the tail end of that amazing field and that, then and there, was top notch living.
I didn't win the stage, not even close. In fact, I probably didn't even impress anyone with my 36th place finish on the stage. Frustrated that I couldn't do what I came to do, yes. But, I was living!

The pulse was, without any doubt, there!

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