Saturday, May 5, 2012
Fly away to Omaha
There is nothing that scares me more on this earth than an expanse of water that is 8 feet wide and 50 meters long. I have had some hard-bitten dudes point firearms at me in Guatemala. I have rappelled 100s of feet down into black holes in the ground. I've ridden a mountain bike off of stuff that would give a billy goat vertigo. I am no stranger to dumb-ass nail biter stuff. Having said all that, there is nothing that weakens my knees like standing on the starting blocks at one end of a long course meters pool. I (mostly) don't do the other dumb things anymore... but I still get on those starting blocks. I still feel my stomach turn to water. Nothing is as intimidating (for me) as looking down the length of that 50m. Conversely, there ain't nothing that thrills me more. I feel like "I don't belong here" and "this is who I am". I worry that everyone else standing on the blocks alongside me will know that "I can't do this" and at the same time I know that "I am going to kick all of your asses". Fear and insecurity are juxtaposed with confidence and swagger on a starting block. The faster the pool and bigger the swim meet - the louder the dichotomy tilts between the opposites, ringing like a bell. It is only in that endless nanosecond when Quasimodo stops pulling on the bell rope and the starter's horn sounds that I find all of it washes away. When I hit that water only the race matters.
Today I took the plunge and went all in on the 2012 US Master Swimming Nationals swimming meet. It is in Omaha, Nebraska 5 July through 8 July. I bought my airline ticket, my hotel room, and my registration for the meet. I will be swimming 50m/100m/200m butterfly, as well as the 400m free. I have two months to get ready it. To be real, I have two months to be ready for the 200m butterfly. Four lengths of oxygen deprived hell. In a pool twice the length of what I typically train in. Four lengths that, at present, I can not not do. I'll do it. But I am not going there to finish it. I am going there to compete in it. I am in it to win even when I probably can't.
I am going there to stand on those blocks and make the folks on either side of me think "shit, that is John Beck. I am in big trouble here." I am going there because (strange and unreasonable as it may sound) I think I can win. At an intellectual level I know that I can't win. Hell, an old Clarion team mate, Ross Davis, will be in the same event and I know that he can mop up the deck with me! To be honest, when I am on the blocks - I am always there to win.
I think that might be the key to achievement in athletics and in life. I wish I could say that I brought that ethic to every aspect of my life. I try to, but I often fall short. That does not mean that we need to be cut-throat or unkind, or even aggressive. It means that in the pool, in the gym, on the bike, with your family and friends - you need to be "all in". Half measures achieve nothing but half results.
When I fly away to Omaha, Nebraska this July. I will be there to win. Even if I can't. Wish me luck.