A few weeks ago I asked my dad if I seem ‘competitive’. He didn’t even pause before he replied, “YES!”
I was flabbergasted. I don’t feel like I’m overly competitive. I don’t boast about my children’s accomplishments or my husband’s achievements. Occasionally I share my relief and utter joy about completing a race. Sometimes I mention the place I finished in at the race. Okay, so maybe that can be interpreted in a competitive way. And I guess that not updating the whole world on my family’s comings and going may just be good boundaries.
When a person grows up with many siblings there is a tendency to over develop one’s competitive nature. Resources weren’t exactly scarce but there was always another person vying for the same ray of sunshine that I was aiming to bask in. The kids I was raised alongside are no slouches either. I guess I just concluded that in order to get the attention I wanted I needed to differentiate. I need to be the best version of me.
I am not predisposed to become the best version of you. I am focused completely on myself. So maybe the case is that I am actually overly self involved and not overly competitive! Actually I really enjoy being in the company of other people who are striving towards being the best version of themselves. It seems to me that if I’m pushing myself that my efforts would, in turn, inspire someone else. That’s how it works for me. I love finding out about other people’s personal accomplishments. Being told that a friend has finally reached a place that she has worked tirelessly to get to inspires me. For me it feels like we are cooperatively competing in the sense that since our efforts are in parallel, we are each encouraging each other to be the best.
That was how my interest in triathlon started. I had a friend who competed in one triathlon in an attempt to be in the best shape of her life. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard of triathlon but it was the first time in my life that it seemed possible to aim for one. I had just had my 3rd baby boy in 4 years. I loved the boys and my life but their needs were so great that I felt like I was losing my self. I needed to do something big to redefine myself before their childhoods raced by and I was left a weak old lady. With my husband’s encouragement I took the plunge. Three years of training & racing later and I have never felt stronger and my purpose driven. It was just the kind of transformation that I desperately needed.
Honestly though I don’t know if I would have started if I hadn’t been a competitive person. Knowing that other women had tried these races encouraged me to try them too. I didn’t begrudge them their results. I was moved by them. I was excited for the challenge.
Triathlon is the perfect sport because it’s almost impossible to get too focused on your performance compared to another’s performance. So many factors go into each race: race day conditions, course deviations, an athlete’s training schedule, gear, etc. And then there is the way races are conducted. Race heats, age groups, time trial starts, group starts, blah, blah, blah. Even if we started a race shoulder to shoulder its pretty hard to predict that we’d stay that way for the whole race. I think that’s why there is such camaraderie amongst triathletes. To me the competition isn’t exactly with each other but with ourselves. When I race I am competing against my training, my mind set and against my own determination.
For me the true competition exists between me and myself. I suppose that my effort can be misconstrued as overly competitive. To be certain though you’d have to join me at a race.