I went for a 7 mile run yesterday morning. As I wound my way back through town I passed in front of the old Ashland Theatre that has recently reopened for special presentations. There was a poster in the front window advertising one that had taken place the previous evening: the movie Secretariat.
I've always been a big horse racing fan. Secretariat is my favorite horse. He's considered one of the greatest thoroughbred race horses of all time by most. There's no doubt in my mind. Secretariat set race records in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and Belmont stakes in 1973 on his way to becoming the first triple crown winner in 25 years. All three records still stand today.
Secretariat died in 1989. An autopsy was performed that revealed Secretariat had a heart estimated to be almost 3 times larger than a normal thoroughbred heart. Dr. Thomas Swerczek, head pathologist at the University of Kentucky, stated "We just stood there in stunned silence. We couldn't believe it. The heart was perfect. There was no problem with it. It was just this huge engine."
I was at mile 5 on my run when I saw the Secretariat movie poster. It was a great reminder of how important the heart is to running. It's the dauntless machine that pumps the blood and oxygen through my system I desperately crave over the last two miles of a 7-mile run. Additionally, and for me often more importantly, the heart is the head coach and cheerleader for our minds. It does everything it can to ensure our minds command us to believe we can cover those last two miles and resist the dire thinking it is prone to adopting when the oxygen runs short and fatigue is overflowing.
Over those last two miles I thought of my upcoming 2nd half-marathon. Coincidentally, it's The Run for the Bluegrass around Keeneland - one of our country's most beautiful thoroughbred tracks. The course is challenging, filled with "gently rolling" hills. It will require a heart the size of Secretariat's to finish.
As I finished up the final few hundred yards of my run, I recalled one of the most famous stretch calls in horse racing history. It gives me chills every time I listen to it. I can hear his voice and picture exactly where Secretariat was when the announcer declares he is "moving like a tremendous machine." It didn't quite put the spring in my shoes Secretariat had coming down the stretch in the Belmont Stakes some 40+ years ago, but it got me across the finish line, which was all I was looking for.
I encourage you to watch this clip if you have 4 minutes.
Read previous journal entries.