He claimed they are immortals and that we mortals could never attain their level. I argued against him, claiming that they are not immortal, that they feel pain, that they suffered to get where they are. Just watch any documentary on the Tour de France and you’ll see grown men in their most pitiful moments. They are human and I felt that calling them immortal was taking away all that they had worked for. It was saying that they were born with what they have. And while they were born with an extra gear, that could only be attained after years and years of dedicated, minimum pay, hardcore cycling.
But now I see he was right, but not in how he meant it. He claimed it was a genetic immortality, that they were born with it. I was looking through my book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull today and I read, “there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power…there is such a thing as perfection, and…our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth.”
The COO of my team Endorphin Fitness, Molly Frazee, sent out an email a couple days ago stating her amazement at all the athletes’ commitment. I’ll spare trying to rephrase her letter because I wouldn’t do it justice. She wrote, “It’s amazing what an inspiration all of you are for doing what you do every day; the commitment you make to the sport, the mental strength you all possess, and the determination you all have to see how far and how fast you can go. As someone who is constantly surrounded by people like you, I sometimes take for granted that this is not the norm. The general public resigns themselves to mediocrity and laziness, but not one of you does that – not this team. You are all remarkable in so many ways and it’s thrilling to watch how far you all have come. ”
This guy I argued with could have the genetic makeup that could outrace Lance Armstrong. But he’ll never know that because he, as Molly eloquently put it, has “resign(ed) himself to mediocrity.” No one is born a professional athlete. No one knows what their genetic makeup truly is. While you may look at all unintimidating 5’6″ of me and count me out of the race, what lies on the inside is a motor. But that motor is not what makes me the athlete who I am, just as with any other athlete who refuses to admit their limitations.
The real motor is just that, not accepting what we are supposed to be capable of doing. As Molly said, “the mental strength you all possess, and the determination you all have to see how far and how fast you can go,” is what makes an athlete amazing. While she has been surrounded by endurance athletics for several years, she definitely has a better grasp on the amazing feats of every athlete than the man I argued with. He looks at a professional cyclists wattage, is amazed, and cannot see the strength in anything less. I look at a girl who, at 17 years old sets her mind on an impossible goal, or a 50 year old woman to attack a half marathon despite knowing the consequences of such a beating, completes it despite the overwhelming difficult of the monumental task, and I am equally amazed.
While we all work for our own extremely respectable goals, mine is speed. It is not about fitness like so many who will never understand may think it is. It is all about speed. And when the man I argued with stated, ” You and I… could train and suffer and feel pain all we like and never obtain to that level.” As you can imagine, nothing gets me going more than someone telling me what I can’t do. My coach Michael has always supported my desire to be the best. And he’ll never give me a reality check because that would only make me want it more. However, the reason I do this is not to show others that I can. I do hope that some receive some inspiration and excitement from watching a good race, but the real reason I do this is to show myself that I can.
“You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed.”
It is empowering to go fast. It is my battle, my goal. I’ll dig myself into massive pits of pain nearly every single day for this goal. It is absolute freedom, that is to go fast. That is immortality right there. It is not that we will live forever in this state. It is attaining a greater understanding that we are eternal, that we are immortal. It is in that time that faith is not necessary. Because we can feel it, we know it exists. And while there are many ways to essentially feel God, to feel existence, the IS, I, as well as most every other endurance athlete, do it by tapping into inner strength, reservoirs of power and freedom that I cannot explain by any other way than associating the term God. And in this overcoming of pain and achieving of absolute speed, I am eternal; I am immortal.
So try telling me what I can and can’t do. You don’t know the results of my physiological testing. The data tells me that it is not impossible. But even without that information, my confidence and faith would be enough. So good luck to the man I argued with for settling for a life of eternally being second place.