The heat was starting to take a toll. The tire tracks of the team in front of us were clearly visible on the sun baked, dusty road. It was late in the afternoon on the second day, and things were not going well. These races are most often 24 hours in length, but your mind always splits them into day one and day two, with the crossover point arbitrarily chosen to be some exciting, difficult, or low point in the middle of the night. Interest or hardship always seems to be tied with a beginning or an end. That is how our brains work.
Jeff and I had raced against Sarah many, many times over the better part of twenty years, just slightly. Due to an unusual alignment of circumstance, her other teammates, and our regular female member, Carrie, were all out for this one. We had always fought hard against, and thought highly of, each other, so everyone was happy to see what the ‘enemy’s’ point of view would look like. Actually, we all had a pretty good idea that we would enjoy each other’s company.
Jeff and I were pleasantly surprised to find that the competitive and bad ass athlete that we knew, turned out to be fitted with a personality that was quick to laugh, and did so with a girly giggle.
Now back to things not going well. We always hoped to win this particular annual event, held near Davenport, Iowa. We succeeded about half of the time, but that was not looking to happen now. We were hot, spent, and a bit dejected about all the things going wrong with our race. Jeff and I were dealing with some new problem, when Sarah asked in a rather inquisitive tone, “do you guys ever fight?” Apparently, that was a bit of a surprise to her, something she wasn’t used to. Jeff and I looked at each other, a bit perplexed. “No, why would we?” was what came out of both of us. The question started a little introspection. On rare occasions, we had some disagreement, but it was usually pretty quick for one of us to realize that we might be wrong, and often, that was me. On the rare occasion that he screwed something up, my first feeling was joy that it wasn’t me this time, accepting that every race of this kind is bound to be full of screw ups of some sort. The job at hand was always ‘how do we do the best, from this immediate situation forward’. The training of this strategy has been invaluable to me as of late. All that being said, it’s much nicer for things to go well. Winning is not a bad thing for sure, but those who get too wrapped up in the end result of that, and not the process of that, tend not to stick around for the long haul, or at the very least, check out when things are no longer going well.
We did not win, but we ended up coming closer to it than we imagined when Sarah asked her question.