I had an "I wish I was going to Europe this summer" moment earlier this week - probably brought on from all the European cycling events I've been watching lately. It's odd - I think that I've watched more cycling than I have baseball or even the basketball playoffs lately. As a result I found myself watching "Before Sunrise" with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Yes, I know it's relatively chick flicky - but it has some decent dialouge and makes you feel as if you are in Europe.
Anyways - there is a scene where Delpy's character is having her hand read by a gypsy. The gypsy says, "You need to resign yourself to the awkwardness of life. Only if you find peace within yourself will you find true connection with others."
I don't know about you - but there is something that rings true to me about the awkwardness of life. All of us want to be strong, confident, and at-ease with the world. But we usually don't have time to feel comfortable. We're like Mario in original Donkey Kong - trying to make our way to the top while simeons are throwing barrels at us.
If we are to be successful as endurance athletes - we must put ourselves in awkward situations constantly. We strengthen our systems by presenting them with stress. We must accept that undergoing discomfort is something that should be sought rather than avoided. We become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Many people say that endurance athletes have control issues - our training regimens are just a way for us to exhibit a small amount of control in a world which blows us about like Forrest Gump's feather. There might be something to that - but I think the greatest pleasure for me is to transform myself - day-by-day in a training cycle from the ugly duckling into a swan. But the real success during a race happens when we are the swan and the ugly duckling at the same time. The triumph of the human spirit is in those times when we push ourselves to the limits of our own abilities - when we are both awkward and beautiful all at once.