Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scott Tinley: Racing The Sunset

A succesful pro-triathlete in the eighties, Scott Tinley has written this honest account about an athlete's quest for life after sport. 

In addition to 'ST' himself, Racing The Sunset explores the fates of dozens of retired athletes like Greg Lemond, Steve Scott, Davis Phinney and Greg Welch. 

I guess the underlying story is how crisis and change often leads to personal growth and healing.  

This excerpt shows what a great writer ST has become:
"When my wife dropped me off for my foot operation, I seemed calm. I was looking forward to reading some books. There were a few races coming up over the next months, but if I had to pull out, nobody would sue me and we wouldn't be sleeping in the car. I was supposed to be retired anyway. The waves in the spring are typically windy and blown out, I told myself. A few weeks downtime to write or paint or help the kids with their homework would do me good. There are no accidents, I finally convinced myself. Everything happens for a reason.

When the nurse took my blood pressure it was high. I was putting up a good front but the numbers don't lie. I was nervous, maybe even scared. What if something went wrong and I couldn't ever run again? I was retreating into my narcissistic self; I was too concerned with the body when I should have been focusing on the mind, or even the soul.

The doctor doing the surgery made some joke about me being more of an Ironman now because I would truly have metal parts inside me. He was thirty-two years old, in fifth grade when I won my first Ironman. I smiled, took some deep breaths, and remembered how certain Zen masters could will themselves to stop bleeding from an open wound. I added yoga to my list of things I wanted to become proficient at in the next year. Yeah, I could do it in a year.

But a year is a long time, and ten years is even longer. Better that I take it a month, no, a week, no, a day, no - better I accept my place right here and now. Make the best of it. Relax, breathe in, breathe out. Slow down and let the past catch up with me. Quit running away from it, since I won't be able to run for a few months anyway. I did some great things in my life as an athlete. Yeah, it was a hell of a good life."
I like it.

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