|Luc (grey), Kevin (blue), me (right)|
Ah, but back to the race. Mid 2005 was my last year of serious triathlon. I was swimming a bit and riding my bike to work at Active 2-3x a week. Running wasn't a huge priority, but I liked mixing it up when I could and I was a bit of a regular at UCSD masters track where Luc and I would perform our weekday throwdowns. I would typically take my bike out to Lake Henshaw on Saturday and then meet up with the boys in the ranch on Sunday. Back in those days, the days before I felt truly old, races didn't sell out quite so quickly and I was a dba for the company that handled most of the event registrations. So, I did a lot of jumping into races at the last minute based on how I felt. That's what I remember La Jolla being, a spontaneous "why not" decision.
The photo above is an indelible memory for me. Because for all of the training Luc and I have done together, we have only raced side by side that one day. I took the experience for granted at the time, but now I appreciate it because I know it was such a singular event. On top of that, the second half of the race turned into an epic battle between Kevin and I. Kevin doesn't look it, but he is 12 years my senior. And he breaths twice as loud as I do. And his wife has a massive set of lungs and likes to cheer him on at least 10 times over the course. They are a really cool couple actually, I am quite fond of them, but they definitely get my competitive vibes pumping. For a while there, Kevin and I would go head to head at many of the local races, typically halfs like San Dieguito and La Jolla. I could never shake him, no matter how hard I tried or how many noises I could get out of his lungs. He got the better of me anytime I allowed doubt to creep in, and if I let him get too far ahead, he would be gone for good. I'm not exactly a quiet breather, but when I can't hear my own breath because of the guy I'm running next to, you know he is loud.
At the finish line, 11 seconds separated us. That ammounts to less than one second per mile. I ran scared up the last hill and bulldozed my way down the cobbles like a rhinoceros on speed until I reached the cove. I swear I felt him creeping up on me the whole way up the hill after the beach and tennis club. If I had looked back, he would have passed me for sure. Ah, those were good times. Thanks for those memories, Kevin!
Luc, you have been my mentor. You've lead me through all of my running PR's. You've taught me how to train and how to be pessimistic about life and love and still enjoy it all anyway. You've forced me to touch the inside surface of my own misery so many times that I sometimes don't know if I can separate your memories from my personal definition of pain. You've been one of the most consistent friends in my life over the past decade, never asking for anything, willing to help, and always up for the next smashfest. My life is richer because of you.