“Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative……A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” –Steve Prefontaine
I just got off the phone with one of my best friends and training partners. He raced in the USAT World Championships this past weekend and what he told me about the race is what inspired this post.
The venue for the World Championships this year in Vancouver featured the best of the best in the Olympic distance of racing. Unfortunately the weather was bad and the swim had to be cancelled. Instead the athletes raced a 3km run in place of the swim followed by the 40k bike and the final 10k run. My buddy is one of the best runners I have ever seen. His strategy was simple……get in front and out of sight and stay in front.
After the 3k run his plan was right on track. His running prowess put him in the front and he blasted out on the bike. For 3 laps of the 4 lap bike course his strategy was working perfectly. He had the lead and was holding it. On the 4th lap a train of athletes in his group caught him and went by wheel to wheel, heads on a swivel looking for the motorcycles. My friends cycling ability is possibly even better than his running, but the train went by like he was standing still. He could have hooked on to them, but he didn’t. The race was not draft legal.
On the 10k my buddy ran his heart out and closed the gap on the leaders that had passed him on the bike, but by 2k the wheels came off. His incredible effort on the bike was taking a toll. He held on and came in 2nd in his age group and top 10 overall. Top 10 in the world!
A few years from now I won’t remember what place he came in, but what I will always remember is the class and dignity he raced with. I will remember the gutsy performance he put in by pushing himself to absolutely breaking down. He raced like Pre.
Here’s to my friend and all of those who race to see how far they can push themselves……too see how gutsy they can be…….to create a beautiful masterpiece of art with the race…..and to race with class and dignity.