Greg has decided he wants to do the Tri for Joe in May. That means we're both doing it. That means we're competing. Did I just make a big leap there?
It's a friendly competition. I mean, even though I probably only have a 10% - 25% chance of beating him, that doesn't mean I'm going to put a nail in his bike tire or hire a guy off the street to trip him. Just ideas. I'm not executing any of them. ;)
Seriously though, I am very surprised at how much this friendly competition has motivated me. It all started with Greg saying, after he had decided he would do the race, "you'll kick my butt". And me saying, "yeah right!" And then thinking...hmmmm, and saying "Maybe I can kick your butt". And Greg laughing it off (not in a mean way, just an oh whatever i don't really care if you do or don't way). It may sound like the competitiveness is one-sided, but I guarantee you if I pass Greg on the bike, not only will it surprise the heck out of him, he'll wanna go catch me!
I am thinking about my training in a completely different way. Everyone knows I'm competitive by nature, (Pictionary anyone?) but I can not be competitive in road races when I'm so slow. Some "real" runners wouldn't even say I'm a runner.
I don't run to compete, I run because I like doing it. However, when I'm at the starting line of a race, there is always something missing for me, like I'm not participating in the fullest ability. It is a race, after all, and trotting in around 30 minutes doesn't accomplish much except a donation of my entry fee to Race Director's charity of choice. While I am thankful that I can even move my body in a run-like manner at all, toeing the line at a local 5K is honestly not much different from going out for any other run... except I had to pay to do it.
But duathlon is different. It brings out the kid in me – the feeling of racing Marvin to the sandbox, or racing down the driveway on our bikes, or seeing who could jump up on the well cap with one leg, or who could climb the highest in the willow tree (always Marvin), or any other random spontaneous burst of competition we thought of.
Of course the goal here really isn't to beat Greg. It's to get in the best shape of my life, to finally feel the thrill of being a competitor, and to have fun. I finished nearly dead last at my first duathlon. Finishing last didn't upset me – it was the lack of fun that was disappointing. It's not very fun to go through the course all by yourself. I could do that on any Saturday or Sunday! And sure, I had fun that day because it was my first duathlon and I made it. But now I've done my first...and second duathlons. I know what to expect and I know how to train a little better. And if I don't train, I will again be where I was that day – in the other competitors' dust right off the starting line thinking, well there goes everybody. It's me on a run all by myself. Whoop-tee-doo.
So I'm glad Greg is doing the race and humoring all of my smack talk. Again, the point isn't to beat him, it's just to finally have fun because I've trained seriously. And I hope Greg has a lot of fun too. I'm sure he will have fun and will do very well at the race. But I'm not going to live vicariously through his good skills. I'm going to come up with some of my own.