Monday, July 16, 2007

My Hero

I have discovered a most fascinating byproduct of being a writer, and a romantic one in particular.

I ride bikes with a group of triathletes and Masters athletes two to three times per week, although I only participate for the health benefits, not to compete.

I manage to keep up. To the extent that my body has enough fuel to keep moving, the most critical effort seems to be in my head. Like they say in those old fantasy stories, you've got to believe in your own power otherwise the magic won't happen.

Even so, there are times when I think that I'm going to die. It's usually when the coach has been driving us at, say, 80 - 90% max heart rate for forty minutes and through ten killer sets, then he says that we're going to kick it up a notch to 90 - 100%. "Not to worry," he says, "we only have five more sets to go." That's five more sets. Not one. Not two. But five. Okay, maybe I can handle four more sets out of sheer determination, but god help me on that last set.

But of course, god can't help me, because "he" is just a polyp in someone's imagination. I'm on my own. Well, not exactly. I recently discovered that I have a secret power. It's called My Hero, and he is the protagonist of my current novel.

When I reach that point of imminent death (figuratively speaking), beyond where most others would quit, past the point where I've already spent my own quite substantial reserves of determination and where my body starts to tell me that there's simply nothing left to give, then all I ever have to do is ask myself, "What would My Hero do?" Never fail, like some kind of gift of strength or a magic power, I find a will, not merely to survive and limp through those last few minutes, but to actually speed up and break through at one hundred percent.

My coach watches me. He compliments the way I finish sets. I appreciate his compliments, because they speak well of My Hero.

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