The Man in the Arena
Sitting here in a coffee shop with three days before one of the toughest events of my life (Makes my top 10 list which is hard to get on the older I become). I managed to not think about the event too much up until now but then last weekend on my long ride from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara I started to think to myself… This isn’t a century next weekend or even an all day dusk to dawn adventure this is a 24-hour race. I need to have a plan and be prepared and equipped for the course before me.
What is necessary to prepare when we step into the arena. Some arenas in our life are new relationships, a new business, a decision to throw off our current situation and jump back into a new degree program or a new career pathway. For me today the arena is the World Championship 24 hour Time Trial in Borrego Springs California. It has a definite starting point 6:00pm Friday and a finishing time 6:00pm Saturday evening. The course is marked, 18 mile loop for the first 22 in a half hours and a 4.8 mile loop the last hour in a half. There is a “pit” for crew to hang out so you get to see them hopefully about once an hour or sooner. There will be over 50 other cyclists competing in the 24 hour event including many former Race Across America finishers and some already signed up for this years event.
Having been in the ultra world for coming up on ten years now I’ve got a plan and know all to well that things can go really well and all the pieces come together like clockwork or the experience can quickly unravel and I can learn more about myself in that one day then I probably ever thought I could face.
I feel like from an early age I have sought the arena. I’ve been surrounded by outstanding men and women and watched them step into the arena, often getting hammered in the process. After some time I kept watching them and noticed they get stronger, more resilient, and are people of character, discipline, and courage over time. Thankfully it struck me at an early age that this was going to be my path. I choose the arena, with all the pain, struggle, apprehension, that it has to bring.
This year stepping into the arena over and over has a purpose for me. I get the privilege of being a small brick in the building process of finding a cure for brain cancer. I have joined up with 3000 Miles to a Cure a foundation that sends 100% of their money raised towards brain cancer research to find a cure, and the hopes of finding treatments and getting a better prognosis for those who are living with it soon.
My focus this weekend is on performing at the best of my ability given my training. I aim to execute my plan for the race well and to continue to build my community and friendships with my crew and to make the adjustments necessary during the race. In my heart I also want to push myself, be tenacious, and ride that edge of speed and endurance. A race well traveled.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms; the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt