When I ran long distance track competitively in high school, there was always a point in the race where our coach pushed us where other coaches didn’t: the halfway point.
You see, most everyone’s heard of the “bell lap”. When the leaders in the race have one lap to go, they ring a bell. Long distance races have multiple laps and can be boring to watch, but the Bell Lap is the part where the race gets interesting. It’s where runners see what’s left in their tank and give it all they have to the finish, hopefully ahead of their competitor. The Bell Lap is where the race is won.
Well, not exactly.
My coach loved the halfway point. When I was running the mile, right after the first two laps my coach would tell me to “start rolling”. I wasn’t supposed to wait for the final lap like everyone else to start picking it up. I was supposed to pick it up at halfway. This was where I picked off other runners that were saving up for the Bell Lap.
Halfway was my new Bell Lap.
(Oh, and as a side note: My coach wasn’t crazy. He knew exactly what he was doing.)
It’s easy to get excited about the sexy Bell Lap, when we can give everything that’s left in us to finish, whatever it is we’re pushing ourselves to do. (They ring a bell, for crying out loud!) It’s exciting to blow by the competition in the last ten meters, with everyone in the stands on their feet cheering.
But it’s not easy to push yourselves when others aren’t, or when there’s no bell telling everyone to pay attention. It becomes a true test of finishing and mental hardness.
But you get used to pushing at halfway. And when you start gaining success, it becomes easier and a part of who you are.
Today is July 1, exactly halfway through 2010. Time to start kicking.
Photo by StuffEyeSee.