Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nice guys finish last?

So, what makes a competitor? If you have an answer to this question, feel free to comment away!

I’ve been pondering this question for the past few hours, as I completed the Flag Day 5K in Mentor and finished in 2nd place. I’m not disappointed with my finish. It’s a fun race on a tough course, and my beautiful nephew and sis-in-law were there to see me race! However, this race experience has forced me to reflect on something I definitely lack. For whatever reason, I just do not have any desire to compete with anyone else other than myself. Being the science geek I am, I believe this to be potentially problematic regarding my ability to really reach my fullest potential as a runner from a Darwinian perspective. Darwin suggested the Theory of Natural Selection; organisms best suited for survival will do just that and reproduce, others less fit will die out. Species, overtime, will improve in their fitness accordingly. This battle for survival in the constantly changing environment is driven by competition. Therefore, innate competition forces species to become better. Although clearly on a much smaller scale, with this idea in mind, if I could dig deep to my inner instincts to compete with other runner’s that are as fast and faster than me, I will be driven to become a better runner. ?

I am a major perfectionist when it comes to the things I’m passionate about; specifically teaching and running. When it comes to teaching, I have zero percent desire to compete with other teachers. My focus is 110% on doing what’s best for the kids, and I’m more than happy to share everything I have to help ensure other teachers do the same. I’ve had a great deal of success in my profession in a short period of time with this mentality, but is this philosophy applicable in all aspects of my life? I’m not sure!

When it comes to running, my philosophy is the same. That is why I started my blog! There is nothing I’m unwilling to share with another runner to help them be successful, and I have no desire to ever discontinue doing that. Even on the race course. When I started running back in 2008, competition never crossed my mind. I never imagined I’d get good enough to place in my age group, let alone win races. I remember running my first 5K in 2010, and the guys at the finish told me I was the first overall female. I'd never run a 5K before,  was in complete shock, and had no clue the entire race. LOL! As I’ve been in this competition with myself to become a better runner, I’ve been able to do just that!

So, what has me questioning my inner-competitor? Today, as I ran the Flag Day 5K in Mentor, a hilly course that always kicks my butt but has me coming back year after year, I was neck and neck with a chica for the majority of the race. The course is tricky; the first mile begins with a big downhill and leads to a flat straight away, followed by a turn around with a gradual incline leading into a big hill, a turn around that leads into a downhill, and the third mile is mostly uphill and then downhill to the finish. I went out super fast knowing the first mile was the easy mile, and then just tried to hold on the rest of the race.

The chica clearly had a similar mentality, and was running about a 6:00ish pace in the first mile. She looked pretty comfortable, but I wanted a fast first mile and didn’t want to run anyone else’s race and passed her early on. I know that if I were to run this competitively, I should just stick behind her and pass her later on when the course gets tough. But, I ignored that instinct. I had the lead crossing the first mile marker, 5:55. Knowing this was waaaaaaaay too fast for the upcoming hills, I backed off a little. As we approached the first hill, I backed off waaaay too much. A dude crept up on me, and then eventually the chica did. She passed me, which I was okay with because I just wanted to run my own race. I don’t know why this doesn’t light a fire in me??? But, it doesn’t. I kept chugging, and ended up catching up with her and before I passed her told her she looked great. She asked if there were any more hills, and I warned her of the approaching hills. I can’t help it. I’m too nice and would rather be friendly on the course than competitive! J She was slightly trailing behind me, and pulled ahead going into the 3rd mile. I should have stayed close behind, but didn’t. I let her go. The official times aren’t out yet, but I definitely know I could have run faster. She’s an awesome runner, but not out of my league. The race results aren't in yet, but we were both in the low 20:00s I believe. I wish that would have driven me to push harder! So, my question is, how does one tap into the innate desire of all living things to be competitive?

This isn’t the only race I finished knowing I definitely could have ran more competitively. I discussed this with my Mom tonight, and her response was, “MP, you’re too nice—that’s just who you are and why I love you!” Very sweet Mom I have. J So, am I being too hard on myself, and should continue with my self-competitive ways? Or, do nice guys finish last???

Flag Day 5K- 2nd overall female!

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