Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Art of (Racing) Pacing


Kathleen Kaska
It’s that time of year when thoroughbreds have been running the big races: the Dubai World Cup, the Arkansas Derby, and, or course, the Triple Crown races. I love watching the horses run. The jockeys make it look so easy—load the horse in the gate, take off, run fast and finish—all in about two minutes. I usually pick a longshot, hoping to watch it blow past the favorite. That rarely happens, but it’s exciting when it does. What amazes me the most is when one of the favorites breaks from the gate and the jockey pulls back the reins, instead of immediately taking the lead. After hanging back, a power-hungry machine of horse and jockey gain momentum, steadily weaving through the throng. One by one it passes all the other horses and finishes first right at the finish line.
            Over the years, I’ve realized that winning horse races is not so much the art of racing as it is the art of pacing. This concept applies to my writing as well. With writing blog posts, newsletters, social-media promo bites, articles, and books, sometimes I feel as if I’m racing through my writing life. When that happens, I remind myself to slow down and set goals, prioritize my projects, give myself a pat on the back, and like the sharp jockey, hang back a while and ready myself for the final push. True, I don’t beat other writers to a finish line, since this race is run by only me. I don’t get a blanket of poses draped over my shoulders. I don’t get a silver cup for my trophy shelf. And, as of yet, I haven’t been awarded a gigantic purse. But by pacing, I get the job done. Afterwards I feel like a winner because I’ve accomplished something I’m proud of. 
Me and my hero, Secretariat

4 comments:

Morgan Mandel said...

I still smart at John Henry winning over the Bart in the 1981 Arlington Million! They even have a statue of the win at the racetrack!

Yes, pacing is important in races and in books. We can learn a thing or two from those jockeys.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Aa good example of the importance of pacing, Kathleen.

Kathleen Kaska said...

Thanks for your comments, Morgan and Jean. This weekend is the Belmont? Let's see whose going to pace their way to the finish line.

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