Racing. The space around you when you have the whole lane to yourself, no other kids in front or behind you like in the crowded practice sessions. The space you create in the quiet, bright process of pushing your body’s limits.
I was about 9 in that picture. I was squinting at the clock to see my race time. In that exact moment, which I can still remember vividly, I was in transition between the fluid, moving space of the race itself and the walled space that time and numbers create. Was it a personal record? How much faster can I go next time? What are the other kids’ times?
I was a Loveland (Colorado) Lightning Bolt, hence the marker-red, temporary tattoo on my arm. Racing was such a pure form of fun. I loved it. I still do.
10 years go by, pushing the body every day. You get strong. You get injured. You ice the sore shoulders. You keep going. You get run down. It’s still about that perfect moment in every race when it’s quiet, and you’re winning, and you love the movement which is all you are. But more and more, it has been about numbered time in all its facets: age, place, level, qualification. It’s also about past and future, and less about the present.
I was a privileged kid. I was a student-athlete at a great college. I am still, by most measures, privileged. But something happened after those final swim races when I was 19, 20, 21, 22. Ice packs wouldn’t fix it. I burned out on the things I had loved. That space, which was the best gift I had, closed in. I would spend the next 10 years in a very self-limited zone. I didn’t use my body. I wasn’t really growing. The emotions I had built up for use in the pool no longer had an outlet, so they ruled my life like ivy swallowing a building.
The more I focused on time, the more of it I lost. At about age 33 or 34, I finally started to see a lane that could work for me. I started moving again.
Today, I’ve rediscovered a love of racing and especially of space. I have the opportunity today to build more of it, and not only for myself this time.
My co-founder and I, we’re building it for others.
It’s a good lane to be in.