Article by: Michael SelmanReproduced with permission of the author
Another Saturday morning, and once again, we play the part of the gladiator, and we suit up to fight today's battle. But unlike the knights of the middle ages, who wore armor over every inch of their body for protection, we take quite the opposite extreme, wearing as little as possible into the war zone. Our only protection against the enemy is our game face, sunscreen, and footwear.
The confrontation is not for the weak-kneed, or for the faint-hearted, but each encounter is eagerly anticipated. We know we have prepared well for combat, and are determined to have victory. The friendly training grounds on which we have prepared have now become the battlefield on which we will soon struggle. No matter how passive we may appear during the week, when the weekend comes, we are truly weekend warriors.
As we stand in formation, nervous and a little less than completely confident about the fight we have ahead of us, a single shot is fired, and the war has begun. An all out charge ensues as, en mass, we trounce our foe underfoot, and suddenly, we realize that the enemy we are battling is multi-faceted. It is no longer just the road beneath us, and the climate surrounding us, but also, it is a battle with ourselves and possibly those in closest proximity to us, fighting the same battle that we are. We are facing a common enemy. We are facing each other. We are facing ourselves.
As the mêlée continues, we find ourselves fighting a strong urge to give in, combating that desire with an even stronger yearning for ultimate victory in whatever way we chose to define it. So we bear down, and dig even deeper in the trenches, and deeper in our desire to prevail and claim victory. We will not be denied, and we refuse to surrender. It is indeed many conflicts in one tidy package they call "Race Day."
All the basic training we have committed ourselves to in preparation for today's battle never had quite the same sense of urgency as the real thing. But we respond in an almost super-human way, accomplishing what we never could in a simulated environment. The adrenaline rush in the midst of the clash has made us stronger, faster, better. We're each on our own. We know that there are no reinforcements coming. Just positive affirmations that we can win the battle, and the war.
The ravages of the war are left in our wake, as we march towards our individual victories. The once peaceful streets are now littered with the spent shells that once held the ammunition we imbibed as we passed through. Now, the sense of final victory is so near that nobody wants to look back. We continue on to that final surrender with a singular focus, and we throw our arms in the air as we declare our triumph over the enemy. Time stands still at the moment of victory, and then we look at our watches to see how well we fought today.
It's always a hard fought battle, and we sometimes wonder in the midst of it why we choose fight it at all. The way we feel at this moment is the reason. It was a difficult fight, but one we had to do just this once, and we vow to never ever do it again.
At least not until next weekend, when the weekend warrior once again emerges.
Michael Selman Roads Scholar Atlanta Georgia USAMichael Selman is a freelance writer who has appeared in publications and web sites throughout the world, including Runner's World, Footnotes, and CoolRunning.