Why am I Competing?

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When was 5, I started playing team sports. My mom signed me up for soccer. I don’t think I was any good, but it was the start of my love affair with team sports and competition. I added basketball, volleyball, to my team sports repertoire and even tried softball once but never really took to it. I loved the camaraderie of being on a team. I also really liked competing and winning as part of a team.

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Most of the teams I played on were competitive, but weren’t necessarily very good. It didn’t change the fact that as a team we wanted to win. The times we won we would celebrate and the times we lost we would commiserate and assess what we did wrong. The best way I can explain this is winning is fun and losing just sucks.

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While I have a great appreciation for competition. There is a downside; it can spill over into other areas of your life. Competition does not work well in relationships, surfing, parenting, and some aspects of work. Of course I don’t think I was overly competitive in areas outside of sport, but I will leave that up for my family and friends to decide.

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Setting how competitive I was aside, I would rather focus on how I learned to curb my competitiveness (which has had a few drawbacks like not being as competitive as I would like in my volleyball league). I shifted my focus away from competition when I started running.

 

This might sound ironic because running a race is a competition. There is a clear winner. The first person to cross the line wins, and everyone else is put on a list so you can see just how you stacked up against the other racers.

 

I admit when I first started running I would size up my competition at the start line. There were a few things I learned. I am not very good at determining who is a fast or slow runner. Size, shape, and age don’t give many good clues to speed. The other thing I learned (and this was really reinforced when I moved to New England) is most other runners are much faster then me. It was rather humbling finding out I was just okay at running. I loved the running community and wanted to continue to participate in it so I had to reassess and shift my focus.

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To be a runner it couldn’t be about being fast. Instead my focus was enjoying the sport. It wasn’t about competition it was about relieving stress and being in the moment. And one of my favorite things about running is sharing it with other people. There are few things I enjoy more than running with someone on their first race. I get so much enjoyment out of seeing someone achieve a goal of crossing the start and finish line of a run.

 

While I would really love to win a race (or at least my age group), if winning a race were my goal, I would have quit running a long time ago.

I am not fast

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I am not fast.

People often look at me and mistake me for a fast person. They look at my build, their minds leap to she’s really tall and lean, and therefore she must be built for speed. But my pace is not like the cheetah. I aim to be slow and steady, like the proverbial tortoise.

 

While I do recognize I have the potential to be swifter, I actually enjoy running the steady race. I enjoy being with the middle and back of the packers. I like seeing people who are striving to make a big accomplishment such as finishing their first race. I also love being able to enjoy the scenery and to take pictures. And after really long runs I like to have energy so I can still enjoy my day.

 

So maybe one day I will call myself fast. And possibly in the eyes of some I am fast. But fast or not, how about I just call myself a runner.

The Power of Two

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There has been a question plaguing me, how fast can I really run a half marathon?

I look at the numbers in the running calculator based on my 5k time. And I see the projected pace for my run. I have never done what I think I am capable of doing on a run. I have yet to really challenge myself to see how fast I can go.

The night before the princess run I had some turmoil. Should I run in B corral or fall back to run with the other coast(ie)s running? It was a question that kept me up for quite some time. After some restless moments a feeling of peace came upon me. I know what the right thing to do was.

We all agreed to fall back to E corral to start with Faye. I ran the first mile with her and then caught up to Mehgan and Kelly. Eventually we lost Kelly in the crowd and she finished in a very respectable 2:20. Her negative split for the last 10k was remarkable.

I felt my kick around mile 8. I could have flown. But instead of taking off I stayed with Mehgan. We had made it that far and I wasn’t ready to abandon her. I know what it’s like to run your first big run alone. I know how hard that it. And I know that I would have given so much to have someone more experienced running along side me not only telling me that I could do it, but I could run better than I was running.

I’m sure there will come a time when I can find out how fast I can be. But that time isn’t right now.