Saturday, October 01, 2005

Serendipity?

If you've been following along you might recall that I'm reading a book called "The Perfect Mile." It follows the progression of three amateur athletes in the early 1950's who all came up a little short of expectations at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and thus sought to make amends by being the first person to break the 4 minute mile barrier. If you know the history, you'll know that Roger Bannister, an English medical student, was the first to accomplish the feat.

I had a little trouble getting into the book at first, mostly because I read just before going to bed. Given the detail, I typically only make it a few pages before retiring for the day. Well, that's changing. I'm now getting into it, and as I do not only am I really starting to appreciate all three runners, but I'm sympathizing with Bannister. We have a lot in common. He believed in the gentleman amateur athlete; the principal that one could do great things and have a life. He's very analytical. He was determined to train himself, using his extraordinary analytical ability to hone his training and progression towards the 4 minute mile. In the end he realized that he needed help to do it. Implied is the fact that the scientist can train himself physically, but the final push to go beyond himself is mental, and it required the support of a couple of close training partners and his coach.

I have two major goals left in my athletic career. They are the 3 hour marathon and qualifying for the Hawaiian Ironman. I'm a very analytical person and have long trained myself, without partners or a coach, and worked on a steady progression towards being a more complete athlete. I'm close enough to both goals that they seem perfectly reasonable from a physical standpoint, and yet I'm starting to think I need assistance to get over the final mental hurdle.

Yes, Roger Bannister is the type of individual that I can undestand and strive to emulate. Based on the description of him in the book, we seem eerily similar. Oh, and by the way, he was born on March 23...just like me.