Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Friendly Competition

“The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.”

I read that somewhere and thought it poignant and meaningful… in fact, I thought it was pretty motivating. It says something about determination and perseverance… about keeping up the good fight… about running until you feel like you can’t go on and then going another mile… and another… and another. It says in its wholly practical way that being the Turtle is fine and that the Rabbit is irrelevant to the Turtles resolve and success. I buy all of that… I love the sentiment behind it… but sometimes, being the rabbit seems like so much more fun.

A few of my running partners/friends ran in the annual H.B. Surf City Half Marathon this past Super Bowl Sunday. Although most of them were pretty confident going into the weekend, I naively thought the 1:58:13 I posted just a few weeks earlier was respectable enough and would remain respectable for months to come. After all, just a few weeks ago all but two of us were still training for our elusive sub 2hour time. But little did I know that the 1:58 I posted was soon to be nothing more than average in this circle of friends… in fact, I now consider it close to pedestrian given the times that were posted a few days ago…

The fastest time was posted by a half marathon virgin, 1:52:04, who by the way is built like a Kenyan... lean with long limbs. Second fastest time was posted by my closest rival. Although friends, because we started our running adventure together and soon to be Triathlon adventure, we consider ourselves friendly competitors… he posted a 1:52:23, a full 8 minutes from his previous best… insane! (Envy setting in… see Rabbit reference above.) Number three on the “buddy podium” finished at 1:55:48 and earned a few extra bragging rights due to his bum knee. All three of them made my time look more “steady-turtle” like than the “swift-rabbit” like runner I thought I was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still happy with my time and with beating my own personal record… but honestly, a little of the shine has come off that imaginary trophy. It seems a little ordinary now and less than spectacular. Maybe that’s normal… after all, with endurance events it’s not always just about finishing… sometimes it’s also about beating the other guy(s)… sometimes for nothing more than bragging rights, but heck… having those rights can feel pretty damn good...

In the end, I know it’s okay. I can still look positively at my experiences as a whole and know I’m not only doing something good for my body, but for my own emotional well being… and maybe a little for my spiritual well being too. And in looking at my times, I can see I’m getting faster with every run. Competitive nature? Maybe a little… but I’m still sincerely happy for those guys… kind of proud of them actually… for the work they put in. It’s to be admired… they simply raised the bar… the gauntlet has been thrown… a new measure of speed and endurance has been set in our world… and for me that means having to train that much harder… I know that’s what really gets me. The faster they get, the faster I have to get… but I guess the rabbit wouldn’t be the rabbit without the turtle… or is that the other way around? No matter… Turtle or Rabbit… it all comes down to me… I’ll keep going. Hopefully that’s the only thing I have in common with the Turtle in the end.

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