Starting the Kick

Back in my youth, when I ran on the high school cross-country team, I spent a lot of time in each race thinking about “the kick.” Race strategy dictated that one reserve a last bit of energy for the very end of the race, when one would pick up the pace, and pour on speed toward the finish. Some runners had a natural kick, but others like myself struggled throughout the race to judge the cruising pace well enough so that there would be enough left over for a good kick at the end. The trick of the kick was to not start too soon, which might cause you to burn out before the finish, but to start soon enough, and strong enough, to outpace other runners with whom you’d been pacing over the preceding miles. For some, the kick took the form of an all-out sprint when the finish line was in view. For others, it meant gradually picking up the pace across the last mile of the race, taking a psychological toll on the opponent, by seeming to get stronger as they felt tireder.

The idea of a “kick” came to mind this morning, as I was thinking about wanting to finish the year strong, wanting to pick up the pace and productivity in my life. The end of the year makes a good psychological “finish line,” and the three months between now and then is a good amount of time for gradual projects like an exercise routine to have made a difference by then.

There have been many prompts toward these thoughts. In Seattle, the seasons have definitely changed; days are cooler, leaves are changing, dawn comes late. Kimberly had her birthday yesterday, which means mine is days away. For a celebration, we spent the weekend in Portland, where the mirrors on two walls of the bathroom allowed, well, a frank assessment of one’s physical assets. And, perhaps fertilizing the ground, Labor Day weekend saw us at Deep Springs for an alumni reunion, with much opportunity for reflection on potentials old and new.

All of which is throat-clearing by way of considering my desire to close 2005 with a “kick.” Today it is my intention to gradually pick up the engagement, creativity, and productivity in my life, in a variety of ways. The goal is to make some substantive changes for the better, that will continue to pay off in 2006. What those changes are will be the subject of later posts. Among them, obviously, more work on building my physical fitness, for while I was able to walk all over Portland’s Pearl District on Saturday, I’m still feeling it this morning. (But my stiff and aching muscles didn’t stop me from getting packed up and out walking to do errands this morning, and making it to the cafe for a bit of wireless blogging. In true Seattle style, I’m one of 8 laptop users here, vs. 1 guy who’s just reading the physical newspaper.)