I ran a race.
It was one of those color run types (Run or Dye) where they emphasize having fun, and getting covered in dye, and dancing to the DJ when you’re done.
I’m all for fun, don’t get me wrong.
But I don’t run because it’s fun. I run to push myself beyond what I think I can do. I run because I don’t have time for walking. I run because I really really like cake. and ice cream. and pizza. and cookies. and chips.
I run because every time I run, I feel stronger than I did the last time.
I run because it gives me time to think. Time to be alone.
The race I ran wasn’t timed. So I guess it was an event, as opposed to a race. I treated it like a race. I enjoyed getting covered in dye and I loved the energy of the festivities. I really loved seeing so many young people taking part. I also loved seeing other fat folks there. That gives me hope. That young people are getting active, getting outside. ANd that fat folks don’t care what stupid people might think. They are going to have fun and get fit.
At one point, I saw a women I had started at the start line with. She had very quickly gotten in front of me when I stopped to walk the first time. I didn’t think much about it; there were plenty of people faster than me. I got passed a lot. But then I saw her. And she was huffing and puffing away. And I was going to pass her.
Man, I’m going to pass her! I really really am…. and she was so much faster than me… and I’m going to pass her.
I’m passing her! Holy crap! This feels awesome! I’m beating her!
And then it happened.
((The race is an out an back, as they call it. You run 1.55 miles out and then the same path back. So at one point you “cross” the people who are on their way back.))
I was just gloating about how I had passed this woman when coming down the return path was a guy, covered in sweat. He was already on his way back, and I hadn’t even crossed the 1 mile mark.
It was a punch in the face. A really hard one. I almost stopped in my tracks.
Look at that guy go. He’s so fast. I thought I was good and look at him. I’ll never catch up to him. I’ll never beat his time. I’ll never be as good as he is. I’ll never win.
I ran a few more minutes.
I’ll admit, I almost stopped running and hopped over to the other side of the path and headed back to the car.
What was the point? I wasn’t going to win.
Those final thoughts only lasted a few seconds, because I remembered the one rule of running : You are only competing with yourself.
And really, that’s the rule for life. No matter what you’re doing, you are only competing with yourself. It might feel like you’re trying to beat the person in the other lane, the other person who wants a promotion, the other player in MarioKart.
But you’re not. You’re only trying to be the best you that you can be.
If you compare yourself to other people, you will always lose.
It helped, tremendously, that another runner came up the other side (the guy who was in second place) and flashed me a big smile. “You’re almost there,” he huffed, “You can do it.”
I picked up my pace and before I knew it, I was at the turn. And then, before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line.
I looked at my phone (which tracks my runs) and couldn’t believe my eyes.
I had run my fastest 3 miles, and I had run my fastest mile average.
I had won the race with myself. And that was all that mattered.