I've been in a slump lately. I'm in the thick of it so I can't really figure out what ails me, although I'm sure I could pinpoint if I tried to psychoanalyze myself, but it wouldn't change the fact that I feel like shit.
One thing I thought of was how much this one guy bugged me this weekend. He likes to start an argument for the sake of it sometimes, which I HATE because I get really passionate and emotional about my opinions.
This guy is an experienced runner and does marathons. He's very fast and good and all that but he knows it, and tells everyone how great he is, which I find very annoying. Anyway, he proceeded to tell me that triathletes were simply retired runners and that triathletes that ran road races aren't considered "real runners" among other "runners" in the running community. He also said he could be "competitive" in running but not in triathlon because to be "competitive" it's like a full-time job.
This was an insult to me because I do triathlon, and it's not a full-time job for me, and I like to consider myself "competitive." Then, he pointed out that I had "won" my age group in a triathlon but that the field was really small and I could never win in my age group in a road race. It was obvious he had no respect for me as an endurance athlete at all.
Needless to say, I was pretty insulted. I may not train 40 hours a week (which elite Ironman athletes don't do either), but I still train a minimum of 8-10 hours a week! That's not insignificant in my opinion! And just because I don't race to "win" doesn't mean that I'm not competitive.
I still get kind of enraged when I think about what he said to me. However, it got me thinking.....I would probably be doing this for a lot longer than he will be because my attitude is different. Why do you race? Why do I race? Why does anyone race? For some, it's to win...something that is not totally in their control. The outcome of a race can totally destroy them if someone else is a little faster than them that day.
For me, it's a spiritual journey. I could be all alone, which sometimes you are in a triathlon, and it wouldn't matter. I work just as hard as anyone else but I have a different sort of inner mental toughness at the start of the race, which I maintain throughout.
My goal is to always feel good at the end--to accomplish something. I race against myself; I try to be a little better; I try to enjoy the benefits of all the hard work I've done. If I can pass people along the way, great. But I accept that there will always be someone faster and stronger than me. Better than me...at everything. To be a small fish in a big pond and keep swimming everyday, I have to think like this. And it's okay. Because I am a unique individual, and I will be a transformed by the end of the race--a little different. And I think this makes me mentally stronger than those who can be frustrated by variables they have no control over, like how much faster someone else is--although it's great to pass these kind of people because in the end, I don't care, and that baffles them.
Which brings me to the question....Why do you race?