Monday, May 18, 2009

Mine that Bird

Yes - the filly did win this last weekend, and pretty much from beginning to end. But, even more exciting to me was how Mine that Bird ended up second after being at the back of the pack again. I was ready to give all credit to the jockey for the Derby win - but, the fact that Mine that Bird ran a pretty similar race with a different jockey shows that the instincts of the horse play a role as well.

There are times that horse racing seems somewhat cruel - but, after watching those two races it's hard to think that Mine that Bird doesn't enjoy mixing it up down the stretch as much as we enjoy watching him. I was actually watching the race from a reception that proceeded a lecture by the author Michael Pollan. Pollan wrote "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food". One of his more interesting arguments is that our food system works best when we let a cow be a cow and a carrot be a carrot. Basically, there are natural systems that have developed over millions of years - and we need to respect those systems or else we end up with weaker and less sustainable planet. The problem, Pollan argues, is our hubris in thinking that we can improve upon natural systems. We can't and whenever we try nature eventually punches us in the gut to remind us who's boss.

I'm probably the millionth person to say this, but running is a great sport because it is so completely natural. We are all runners on some level - the design of our bodies is related to this one activity more than anything else. The same is true of horses - which is (along with my wife's favorite activity of low stakes gambling) why horse races can be so compelling. You are seeing another animal doing something very natural and at the highest level possible.

When you run, especially against another person, you are recreating an event that has happened since our ancestors first ran on two feet. We all have that instinctual part of our brains that knew what it was to run with animals now long extinct. When you are able to access that place running stops being a chore and becomes thrilling.

Last Week
Monday: 6 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 10 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 16 miles
Total: 48 miles

This week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday: 10.5 miles something on the track
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 0 miles
Friday: 6.5 miles
Saturday: 14 miles
Sunday: 6 miles
Total: 52 miles


RM said...

Is it Mine That Bird or Mind That Bird??

Ben said...

i'm an idiot.

RM said...

Not as much as I am for writing "Rachel Alexander" in the Fed Hill email. It sounded wrong when I wrote it, but someone called me out too - it was Rachel Alexandra

Ben said...

in our defense - nobody had heard of either of these horses 3 weeks ago. it's pretty amazing how passionate people are about these horses - when their time in the spotlight is at most five weeks long.

alyssa said...

I mean...they're both the equivalent of calling Michael Phelps Micaela Phelty....