Pushing the limits

Sunday, 7 September 2008

In my last rally event in June I was able to finally fulfill a long-standing dream of getting on the podium with a third place finish.  This was a culmination of four seasons of racing and the various hard lessons learned along the way.  At the end, the car was spent, the crew was spent, and I was spent.  We had left nothing on the table.  We'd had a massive spin-out on the second stage that damaged the rear of the car and bent a rear hub, yet we were able to push harder than we'd ever did. 

We again pushed too hard near the end of the day as we spun out a second time, allowing our competition to close the gap.  At the end, we limped into the finish with 1/4 of the exhaust system remaining, a leaking rear differential, and barbed wire gouges on the rear of the car from a very close call with a fence and drop-off.

Few things compare to the elation of uncorking a champage bottle and spraying its contents in celebration.  

The competition for third place was intense -- about forty seconds separated us from sixth place, an infinitesimal difference over the course of a whole day's racing.  The slightest tentativeness; a fraction of a second of inattentiveness; a nagging worry about fuel, car handling, a new noise or vibration that wasn't there just a few minutes ago; or perhaps a sudden urge for self preservation could have shuffled the finishing order by disrupting the mental zone that guides the car on the fine line between disaster and speed.

Pushing hard has always been a part of my personality -- never content with the status quo, always wanting to be the best in whatever I set myself to, be it computers, photography, rallying.  It is not erratic peakiness that wins, but a steady, consistent, but hard pace.  Without the skills and tenacity of codriver Christa and our service crew to keep me on the road and to fix the car when I did go off the road, the podium finish would still be elusive.  One cannot win a rally alone.

Perhaps there is some kind of life lesson in this, something about always pushing for bigger and better things, or not pushing too hard.  But perhaps just once, I'll be able to savour the accomplishments a little while longer before trying to outdo them.

Categories:   Personal
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