Our friend Nathan was in the shop the other day. As per usual when he stops in, the conversation ranged to a variety of topics, but the last thing we talked about stuck with me. He brought up the idea of experiences v. things. He had read about some study that found that people who use their money on travel(experience) are happier than folks who use their cash exclusively on things-cars, clothes; etc. We talked about examples from our personal lives, and how, even though we sometimes feel guilty for spending a lot of money on a trip, in the end we're always happier to have that memory. I know I'd rather have a month in Europe than a new car, because I very seriously doubt that, when I'm 80, I'll sit around remembering a car I used to drive...but a month-long trip? That'll stick.
The cool thing is that for endurance athletes, we don't have to go to Europe. Most of us are out there making our own little weird but cool memories close to home on a regular basis. For instance, I know that there are an impressive number of athletes that live in Nashville that will never be able to walk down 4th street in Louisville or along the pedestrian bridge in Chattanooga without remembering something amazing that they did there. Those are just normal places in a city that have been rendered almost holy to a very select group of people. Anyone that has run the Country Music Marathon or done the Music City Triathlon has memories of Nashville that are totally different than anyone else's. If you did Music City in 2015, you can stand on the bank of the Cumberland and remember how absolutely nuts it was just to try and swim across because of the crazy current.
Having lived and ridden/raced a bike around here for a decade or so, I'm confronted almost daily with little memories or former milestones. There's a stretch of Highway 46 out past Leiper's Fork that will always remind me of the state champs road race in 2007. I had found myself on the wrong side of a field split, waited for the right moment, and attacked to try to get across. I can remember what I was thinking at every pedal stroke, and I'll probably relive it every time I ride that stretch of road forever. It was no fun in the moment, but it was worth doing to have the memory forever.
It's not just roads. Every time I go to the convenience store on the corner of Wilson Pike and Concord Road, I'll think about the time a few of us thought it would be a good idea to pull out the TT bikes and do a team time trial up and down Wilson Pike-in August. It was fun, but it had to be 105 degrees. When we were finished, I was so wrung out that I didn't think I could make it home. We stopped for drinks at that market, and we all did our usual trick of putting our helmets in the ice box to cool off. And we just sat there, looking at the ice box...I don't remember who was the first one to climb in the ice box, but I remember it felt pretty damn good. The clerk at the store was a little creeped out, but after taking turns siting in the ice box we were refreshed enough to get home.
There are tons of little memories out there. The spot that you got dropped. The spot you hung tight with the group for the first time. The city limit where you won that sprint that no one else remembers. The place where you ran so far that you had to get your spouse to come get you. The time it was so cold that you ran all the trails in the park and didn't see a single soul. The parking lot where you sat, waiting for swim practice, fighting the urge to just turn the car back on and head back home to bed. Places where you surprised yourself by doing something spectacular-or spectacularly stupid. Every once in a while, it's fun to look around and take note of all the spots with memories attached. They're like little gifts that our chosen sport has given us.
Happy 2016. Get out there and make some memories.