I recently had a conversation with a friend about being competitive and racing. We shared our different views on the subject-She is ultra competitive, on top of all her race stats and those in her direct (and indirect) "line of fire". The goals of winning and/or beating certain individuals is what gives my friend one big dose of motivation.
My perspective on competition thus far really has more to do with beating myself. Setting goals, meeting them and then raising the bar a bit higher is what has been my motivating factor. Getting faster, going longer and seeing consistent improvement with my performance has been my reward.
My friend wants to win. It is not the end all be all of her existence but it is something she strives for~her goals are set on AG wins and overall wins. She knows what she wants and has a plan to do just that!
I don't go into a race with thoughts of winning. The one time I went into a race with thoughts of an age group placement did not come to fruition. Lesson learned. I have been lucky enough to have some good races this season and won or placed in my age group several times. Getting second in my age group at my first triathlon was amazing and a totally unexpected treat.
Don't get me wrong-placing in my AG at any race is great/fun/exciting and now that I have had a small taste of it, I want to continue to improve as an athlete. It is tangible proof to me that I have come SO far.
Two years ago I could not even fathom doing a triathlon. Two years ago I could only dream about running a 1/2 marathon-never mind setting my sights on Boston "someday". Two years ago my goal was to lose fat, get my body healthy and fit enough to run a mile or two without stopping. Mission accomplished.
To me, racing is issuing a challenge to myself. Complete this race in XX:XX amount of time. Improve on this or don't do that. It is a learning experience and a way for me to measure my own success. I try not to get all caught up in the winning.
In the last few days, the conversation with my friend has been replayed and thought of several times. I am afraid that she may have awoken a sleeping tiger. A bit of drive hidden deep within. The desire to pursue bigger goals.
Being so new to running (and even newer to triathlon) I still have so much to learn, so much training, smaller goals to accomplish and so much more room to grow as an athlete.
I mean really--I finally got off the treadmill in Jan 2010 and started running outside. I have only just begun dipping my toes in the waters of swimming in July. I started cranking out some cycling miles this summer~on a beast of a bike to boot!
But why can't I dream big? Why can't I have expectations of winning?
I can and I will. I truly believe you can do anything you set your mind to do. If you have the passion and the drive, you can make those dreams a reality. I am living proof of that. I have achieved each goal I have set for myself and then some.
I just think right now is the time to continue learning, striving to better myself and making new goals. The time will come soon enough when I will allow my focus to shift into a more competitive mode. Then I will change my focus and put my eyes on the prize-the medal, the golden cup, the win.
So watch out Ms.MastersWinner, I am behind you now and getting closer and closer each race. One of these days I am going to catch you. And maybe, just maybe one day I am going to beat YOU and win.