Sunday 15 May 2016

Comrades and Math

Keep your eyes on the stars and feet on the ground : Theodore Roosevelt 

Since the last couple of days my friend Iqbal is trying to convince me that I'm a much faster runner than my past results suggest. 

He asked for my champion chip number and pulled up my split times from the Comrades 2012 and 2014 down runs.  He pointed out that I ran far slower in the first 17.5km of the race than I was capable of running.   

We discussed my best marathon and half marathon and 10k times from the last 9 months and he plugged them into Norrie Williamson's comrades finish-time predictor. 

I also pulled out my log books from 2012 and 2014 Comrades down-runs and analysed the volumes and the distances. 

I re-read all the Bruce Fordyce advice.  I re-heard all the pod casts from Lindsay Perry and Brad Brown. 

I memorised the Comrades route profile.  

I memorised all the ups and the downs on the route.  

I poured over the pacing charts and the prediction tables. 

I've looked at the chats and the diagrams.   I've calculated the split times and the half way times and the cut-off times. 

I've seen the proofs and the equations.  

I've analysed and theorised. 

And now I simply feel tired and sick.   This is too much analysis and information. 

And I realised that I might have become Walt Whitman's learned Astronomer.   

I might be missing the beauty and mystic of the stars for all the math. 

Walt Whitman wrote a wonderful poem about sitting in a classroom and listing to a learned astronomer explaining astronomy.   

The Poem is called,  "When I heard the learned Astronomer" and it goes like this :

"When I heard the learn'd astronomer, 

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, 

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, 

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, 

Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars." 

I suddenly realised that I have now been sitting In the Comrades Marathon lecture-room,  reading proofs and figures and Columns and looking at diagrams and route elevations and I too have become tired and sick. 

I suddenly realised that I'm missing the Beauty of this race by getting bogged down by the charts and the figures and the predictions. 

The glorious uncertainties of Comrades can't be predicted.   They are by their very nature,  unpredictable. 

The Comrades day unfolds in magical ways and our responses cannot be predicted nor planned.  

The magic of Comrades cannot be analysed with charts and figures and predictions.   

Astronomy cannot be fully enjoyed with figures and columns and charts.  Astronomy can perhaps best be enjoyed by looking at the stars.  
Comrades cannot be enjoyed with an obsession on data. 
Comrades is best lived, on the road, on the day. 

I now await the glorious uncertainties of Comrades day. 

I now await the majestic mystery of Comrades Day.

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