Endurance races, ski trips, musings, and adventures on the East Coast.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poetry and Racing

Today was a day when even fun training, i.e. skiing, felt a little tough. Another 5:30am wake up to ski before work felt like one too many. I was sweating crap out of my body the whole hike up, breathing very poorly (love ya asthma), and an ongoing foot vs. ski boot battle had my right arch in flames for most of the morning.
But then I looked back over my shoulder. A North Carolina esque blue fog hung low but translucent over the spine of the Green Mountains, a slight breeze picked up, and I had to smile. I was reminded of a Mary Oliver poem:

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found –
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

For me at least, training and racing is about a whole lot more than fitness, or results, or being competitive, or getting sponsored. It's about something that I think can really be expressed only through poetry, something Oliver gets at in that poem.

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