When I was younger my parents used to ask me what I thought about when I stood behind my blocks before a race. I never knew how to describe the quiet in my mind, my presence in the moment, the waiting…waiting to be released from thinking altogether, when I follow the starter’s commands and undergo the final preparations for launch.
I only recently became consciously aware that while my mind is quiet and I am anxiously waiting, I hear Timon’s voice. Yes, Timon the meerkat.
My sisters and I had a Lion King game for our Super Nintendo when we were kids. At the start of the very first level Timon would make a brief appearance, and we would enter the Pridelands as a young Simba. We would explore, pouncing on lizards and beetles, and get tossed about by monkeys. We would sneak through the forbidden elephants’ graveyard with our friend Nala, and get caught amidst a stampeding herd of wildebeests before fleeing to the jungle. We would eventually make our way back to the Pridelands to fight with Simba’s uncle Scar, to take our rightful place as king.
“It starts,” Timon would say solemnly, as if he and he alone knew the fate of the entire universe, and yet he was powerless to change it. The gears were set in motion and there was no stopping the sequence of events that were to follow.
This is how it feels when I’m standing behind my blocks – when race time finally arrives and everyone is satisfied with the position of their blocks. I can barely hear the official’s voice announcing the closure of the track, for Timon’s line fills my head, “it starts.” The gun hasn’t yet fired, but thinking is over, decision making is done. All the hard work is behind me and it is time to get lost in the moment and race.
Only, while Timon appears exasperated, I’ve never felt more powerful than I do in this moment. Yes, the gears are in motion but these moving gears were carefully constructed by none other than my team and I, and we are the ones setting the spring. We have run tests and made adjustments, and we are confident that the resulting well-oiled machine will execute the plan. I need only step out of my own way, and appreciate the magic!
If you’re in Ottawa this coming weekend, come on down to the Terry Fox Athletic Facility to take in some magical Provincial Championship action! Who knows, you might even hear a certain little meerkat…