Friday, August 7, 2009

Life is short... running makes it seem longer.

I ran a 5K last weekend with Jake and his dad. I don't know that I particularly enjoy running, but I've started to do it more and more. I love how I feel after a run and having grown up being constantly active, that endorphin "fix" is something that I can't do without. I prefer to do more exciting things like mountain biking, skiing and my new favorite, kickboxing, but once in a while I will just run to run. I have a very difficult time getting myself to run though, and an even harder time getting myself to put much effort in once I've started. I found out this weekend, however, that running in a race brings out a totally different side of me.

Competition is like a drug for me. I try to avoid it, because once I've decided to participate, I tend to go to uncomfortable extremes. I'm either going to win, or I'm not going to do it. I loathe failure. I therefore tend to avoid the risk of failing - heck not even just failure, but even just not doing well. It's really kind of sick. When I failed my driver's test at 16, I went into hysterics (I made only one mistake, unfortunately, it was also an "automatic fail"). Towards the end of my ski-racing career, I often wouldn't even look at the results. I didn't care that much, because caring meant facing the fact that, no matter what level I was competing at, there were always going to be a lot of skiers that were much faster than me. When I ran track in middle school, I ran the long sprints (the 400, 800 and 200 hurdles). I would kill myself to win. I remember the splitting pain in my lungs, the taste of blood in my mouth, and the way my legs would cramp up after pushing myself so hard. I dreaded it, but I knew that once the gun went off, I wasn't going to let myself lose. So, I just started avoiding competitions that I might not do well in.

Recently, I've come to realize that this is a really lame approach to life. It turns out that avoiding failure yields very little true success. This is one of the reasons I signed up for the run. It's time to start setting myself up for failure (or at least, the chance at being mediocre). Time to get comfortable with attempting things I might suck at. Of course, deep down, I knew I would do fine in the run - the real challenge was getting comfortable with the fact that I probably wouldn't be spectacular. Somewhere around mile two, my seventh grade self reemerged just a bit. My lungs were feeling hot. I was moving at a much faster pace than normal, but I couldn't let myself slow down. Mile three seemed endless. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. I usually find myself in the top 10% of whatever I'm doing - I wasn't even close. My rational self knows I did great. My insatiable-over-competitive side wonders what I could have done better. I'd say it was a success.

I think it's time for me to start seeking more opportunities for failure and struggle.

Awww... look how excited I am to be done!!!

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