It started out easy, til I rounded the first turn. As I crested the hill I could see him, just ahead in the distance a white male, approximately 30 years old, sporting shorts and a t-shirt. Shorts. Immediately when I saw that I knew I was in for it. Here I was on an easy run dressed in tights, rain jacket, hat, and gloves, fully embracing the middle-distance/sprinter attitude “always stay warm.” But to him, I was probably just a skinny young girl trying to “get fit,” hilariously over dressed.
Then came that awkward moment we all face when approaching another runner ahead of us. Gaining on his gait ever so slightly I had to make a decision; would I let him lead, move beside him and start some nonchalant running conversation, or just blow by him? I chose the latter.
And so the race began.
For two straight miles I could still hear it, that ever so faint rap-tapping on the trail that told me I still hadn’t dropped him. No GPS was needed to tell myself I was no longer running “easy” pace. Yet I felt amazing. My competitive spirit was on fire, and I was ready to set the trail ablaze. Refusing to look back, knowing such is the universal sign of a runner’s weakness, I waited til I reached my turn-around point. At first I didn’t see him, then around the bend he came, 100m behind, glancing at the ground as he passed me. Despite my genuine “hi” he refused to look me in the eye. The feeling of victory warmed my blood and my heart raced on as my feet flew weightlessly down the trail to my imaginary finish line.
Just as I came to a stop I felt a few drops fall from the sky, “Aha! I knew I wasn’t wimpy for wearing all these clothes!” That is–until I looked up to see a flock of crows flying overhead.Peed on by a bird? (Can’t say I’m sure that’s even possible?) “I suppose that’s what I get for being so stupid,” I thought, knowing today was supposed to be a very easy run.
Normally, allowing my competitive spirit take the reigns on an easy run wouldn’t be a big deal, but when coming back from injury any mature runner knows you have to be especially careful on days when you feel amazing or you’ll put yourself right back in that hole you’ve spent so long digging yourself out of. Then again, allowing that spirit to take flight can be therapeutic. When you haven’t raced in months the competitive spirit wells-up inside you, yearning so badly for its next moment to bust out and blow away the competition. Some days it’s best just to let it go.
The competitive spirit can’t always be contained to just the track, the field, the court; the competitive spirit is all around us. It resides within us all. So stop holding it in, and stop living a life of minimalism: getting though life by the bare minimums. Let your competitive spirit soar!
Whether it’s the random guy on the trail, stray dogs, cars, trains, or mountain bikers, we don’t always get to choose when our next race will be, sometimes it chooses us.