I have always thought of myself as a noncompetitive person. I just never got the thrill of victory. I always thought that just being involved was what mattered. Really. When Papa Bear and I were dating he once asked me if I wanted to race when we were in a pool together. Me? Race? Ridiculous. I told him that I would swim with him but I would not race. After all, weren’t we a partnership? By the way he does not consider himself competitive either and for the most part I’d have to agree.
Moving along about 15 years. I had started running to take off the ‘baby weight’ – still working on that one. Papa Bear decided to go for a run with me. He hates running. I was excited with every new distance I reached, knowing that I was moving out of my comfort zone and feeling strong as I carefully stretched my limits. So we ran and he literally ran circles around me as he was forced to wait for me at every intersection. I knew that I could outdistance him, but this was infuriating, he never ran. On the bright side, a Jack Russell terrier did bite him on the ankle.
I decided that for my 40th birthday I wanted to give myself the gift of being in the best physical condition of my life. Our city holds a triathlon every summer. Papa Bear and I would be a team. He would bike (31km) and I would do the swim (1km) and the run (8.4km). I spent the winter taking swimming lessons, finally I learned how to do a proper front crawl and to breathe. Make no mistake, I was scared. Pool swimming is very different from lake swimming and I can still only breathe on one side. I had visions of a very long very diagonal race. I was also running. That was not scary. Papa Bear trained. He went for a couple of bike rides. We were shooting for a participation ribbon. Now let me tell you that every one assured me that this was just about fun, not to stress. About one month before the race Papa Bear threw his back out shingling the bunkie roof at the cottage. Not to be deterred I found a substitute. One week before the race. I headed out for an easy 8km run. It was hilly. I was fine. I felt strong. About 250 meters from my cottage I turned my ankle on some stones on the dirt road. It was over for me, my ankle was badly sprained. I decided to volunteer at the race anyway, I still wanted to be a part of it. My best friend had trained with me all year. She is a phenomenal athlete. She spent months encouraging and supporting me. With tears in my eyes I gave her a hug before the race and wished her luck. I have to admit that I was shocked at my disappointment. I volunteered at the running half way point, checking off runners’ names. At one point the woman I was volunteering with turned to me and said “Let’s go.” I looked at my watch and knew that if I were running I would so not have reached the halfway point yet. So I reasonably said that some people may still be coming. She looked at me and said “if they’re not here yet they shouldn’t be in the race.” I mentally gasped and realized that I had a very different idea of ‘fun’. there is judgement in competition, maybe it really wasn’t for me. We never did enter another triathlon and I’m good with that…however I have run a half marathon, but that’s another story.