When you line up for the start of a race, you encounter a great deal of movement and ruckus along the way. Skis scraping, slipping, sticking; jackets zipping, tying, stripping. (Didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but it’s pretty nice, right?) You talk to coaches, officials, parents and teammates. You shake out your legs, make sure they’re warm. And then the gun raises, and you pause. In that moment, the world of sights, sounds, worries and expectations implodes into you, sucks straight into your core, and you choose how to compose yourself.
That implosion? It’s happening now, as all of the movement, preparation and hours of summer training swirl around us, we now get a couple of weeks to reel it back in and compose ourselves.
More than one great sports writer has written on the profundity of the silence before the gun. It’s a common used trope, on the verge of cliché. The calm before the storm, the wait before battle, the darkness before dawn. And yet, it deserves talking about, because, here, in the first two weeks of November, we’re surrounded by that silence, engulfed by inertia. It’s important to embrace this time, because in about 20 days, that inertia will become momentum.
We often refer to the first couple of weeks of November as “the dark time.” First, it is literally dark. In Vermont, the leaves have fallen, but not the snow, and we live in a perpetual entrapment of rain and cold. But secondly, November has the potential of figurative darkness, the kind wrapped in self-doubt. In still moments, it’s easy to get anxious and impatient about what’s coming. Accustomed to the ritual of putting money in the bank, we now must settle and believe that we haven’t somehow squandered it in our sleep.
I don’t know why that’s an issue for us, because any dummy with a calculator can see that our training to racing ratio (about 45:1 training to racing hours) should get us well through the season. Take a look at all we’ve done this summer:
See? Told you that’s a lot of work.
If anything, the first two weeks of November should be “the bright time.” We should celebrate the work we’ve done, let it go, and take a moment to bathe in the feeling of pure potential. Because that’s what this time is, really. It’s actually not all that still, or silent. It’s a loaded spring, a charged battery. It’s exciting and dynamic and powerful. We’ve pulled ourselves back in the metaphorical slingshot of training and now all we have to do is wait. Aim.
And in a couple of weeks, fire.
In addition to our training, building inertia comes in the form of funding. We’ve now received a $25K grant challenge, by donating, you can help us turn that inertia into momentum.