Sunday, October 21, 2012

Losing the personal competitive drive and...

Warning! Before you read this please understand that I realize I'm a middle of the pack, weekend warrior. I feel my ego is in check and use running, biking, etc as an outlet for stress relief more than anything...this year more than ever. With that said... I laced up the Nike shoes that my brother gave to me for my birthday and we headed out for a 30 minute adventure. 1 minute run, 5 minute walk - until we reached 30 minutes. We reached a 30 minute run and then we ran for distance. We'd both enter events and once in a while we'd end up placing in our age group. Honestly, I have no idea how it happened considering I was a weekend warrior and Tim was just helping his older brother. Years went on and I knew I'd never contend for the outright 'win' for any event. I had too many other commitments. That would take actual training. I was content entering and finishing. Of course, each time I'd cross the finish line I'd kick myself because I didn't give it my all. I was always 'saving it' for the next race. Even through the years of just entering events, there was always a race where I'd place in my age group at least once a year. I'd never finish first in my age group, but I'd always sneak onto the 'podium'. As many of you know, Ironman came and went for me last year and after that I backed off triathlon training. I visited the Marshall pool twice between October and February and focused on enjoying my lunch runs with a very gifted and driven athlete. My co-worker made me a stronger runner in early 2012. He pushed me. It wasn't that I was driven to become a better runner. The honest fact is that if I didn't keep up with him I wouldn't be able to continue our guy chats during the noon hour. That was my motivation. I had no plans to enter any event whatsoever in 2012. My plan was to take it easy. The problem with this plan was I was running with a guy who was training for Ironman. I'd get the daily question, "Why aren't you signing up for this event or that event?" I finally gave in and signed up for the Monona 20K in early May. I only did it so I could meet Mike's friend Franz. Franz was sort of a legend of our 'guy stories' during our lunch runs. I had to meet him, right? I lined up next to Mike at the start line, he looked at me and asked, "What's your plan?" I thought, "Plan? My plan was to meet you, Jeanne and Franz here so we could run. I really didn't have a plan." He sensed that's what I was thinking and he laughed - "see you at the finish line loser" was the next comment I heard. It's OK, that's how we spar at noon in Delavan. The gun went off and he bolted. I kept at sub-6 pace for about 1/2 mile and then watched him dart into the crowd. There was no way I was going to get 'guy chat' during this event. I settled in and actually did fairly usual middle of the pack 1:35ish finish. Mike looked totally refreshed after I found him. Low 1:20's for him. One of the first comments that came out of his mouth, "you're slow". It got under my skin. Yep, that's how we roll. Once again I pulled into the finish line with way too much in my tank. It bugged me even though I ran with bronchitis that day. In hindsight that wasn't the smartest thing to do. Subsequent lunch runs were slow and my body took a bit to recover from the last of the winter 'gunk'. Mid-May came and I'd settled into a slow pace. I signed up for what was my 'guaranteed age group place' at the Beloit Duathlon. This year I knew I wasn't going to get the trinket medal. I was gassed and it was mid-May. I came through the finish line with way too much left in the tank. This time it didn't bother me at all. Meanwhile my co-worker entered the event (his first multi-sport event ever) and took 3rd overall. I stated, he's something else. He razzed me to no end for about a week. I took it. It didn't bug me at all. Looking back, this is where I started losing that personal 'drive'. As early June came, I knew my middle of the pack had fallen further back. I entered the Lake Mills Triathlon and trotted across the finish line. My first thought was not hydration or food but saying 'hi' to the owners of the Sand Bar and catching up with a few old and new friends. Next, my focus was turned to Rev3 and finding a "Last Place Finisher" to help with Multisport Ministries. Again, many of you know that I helped coordinate a number of things for Rev3 in the Dells this year through the Ministries. My friend's Alison and Ann were gracious enough to place last. I decided to enter in the last week for the 'heck of it.' My focus was to help and that's what I did. I stopped and tried to help a guy with his chain and gave a tube to someone at about mile 30 of the bike. They were either too proud or just frustrated but they wanted to do it 'by themselves'. Still, that was a good 10 minutes out of my day. On the run portion I paced a gal from Chicago from mile 2 to mile 9. She talked about her tri life and how her husband thinks she's crazy. Meanwhile her husband rock climbs and she thinks he's crazy. It was a good conversation. I walked up a hill with a few participants who were struggling and I stopped about 1/4 mile from the end to help cheer in those that were behind me. It was an inspiring day. It wasn't about the time and honestly, I'm not sure how much faster I would have been that day even if I would have trained. So, I'm now attached with a 'last place finisher' label at work and I was ready to take it to the next level. Instead of watching my co-worker compete in Ironman Wisconsin I was going to travel to Ohio to be the Last Place Finisher for the full IM at the Rev3 event. Weeks prior to the events Mike would ask, "I don't get you. I get the ministry part but don't you have the drive to do 'better'? You don't always want to finish last." I told him that it really didn't bother me where I finished in an event. I really felt good with that comment. Well, the Last Place Finisher thing never panned out and Danielle and I headed up to watch Mike on Ironman Sunday. His goal was to beat his brother (who was also racing) and to blow my 13:04:and change time away. He did both. 11:40:and something. I was very happy for him but beating me by almost 90 minutes didn't sit well. It must be our friendship but a little bit of my drive came back. It wasn't competition because I know I will never beat him. It was the fact that he wanted to push me and I wasn't willing. He didn't understand. After Ironman, Mike cruised to some incredible cyclocross race times, blew some 5 and 10Ks away and asked me again, "What's your plan? Certainly it's not just trying to keep up with me at noon." Yeah...I had nothing on the calendar...nothing at all. I'll stop here for now...

1 comment:

martykc said...

On your co-worker:
I don't know the circumstances in which the statement was made: "You are slow", but two things come to mind:

1) He's an ass or he is trying to goad you, and if he's successful he will keep doing it. Tell small minded people "congrats", and "nice job", and turn your back to them when they try and ride you down.

2) You care too much about what he thinks. If your happiness relies on what other people think of you, it will be difficult for you to ever be happy.

I care more about what you think of yourself than I do about your overall time compared to whatever. Oh, and in my opinion, you don't need to get faster to be happy; happiness comes of it's own accord, regardless of outcome.

On the race:
There is nothing wrong with saving some. If you have a race schedule that includes back to back runs, on successive weekends or whatever, you treat that differently than you do one big goal race.

BTW, 1:35 for a half is not bad at all: its a 65% effort of a world record and FASTER than 95% of all half marathon results nation wide. In the end, it's about what you think: did you want to give it your all, but found reasons not to? Did it hurt and you slowed down? In the end, are YOU happy with the results?

You can try explaining your time to him, but it won't matter. He is a very small man, and now you know how he thinks. He needs to ride you down to feel better about himself. One word: ASS.

Competition should inspire us to do our best, whatever that 'best' may be, for the given day. To give your best is a celebration of life, not a chance for you to question your self-worth, or to ride some else down for their efforts.

We age. We slow down. it's inevitable. Have you reached your peak? Maybe. But a better question would be: Are you enjoying it? Has it become a second job? Are you after results, and not enjoying the process? The actual running/biking whatever?

Another question: Are you losing the personal competitive drive because some ass at work called you slow? You can't compete with him, so find someone else who is just out of your range, and try and keep up with them. If that co-worker was smart, he would fuel your desire, maybe run a little slower and encourage you, help you find the next gear.

It's nice to win, and be fast. But will you quit because you can't win? And you know you can't win if don't run.

Rambling rambling. I'm sure I'll have more to say.

For my part, I'm impressed with your efforts. i think you have the drive, spirit, heart and will of a champion.