I’ve found it quite a surprise just how much you can find out about yourself through the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.
Here’s an example: Competitive? Me? Of course not.
But if there IS a chance I can perhaps pull something out of the bag. If there’s a TINY chance I can prove that I can keep up with that younger dude who isn’t that much faster than me, then a metamorphosis occasionally takes place and I’m back in the game like a Jack Russell terrier who’s just woken up to the scent of high-speed bacon.
But if I’m being overtaken at a good speed – well, I’m in control enough to know NOT to fire up into sprint mode, as I’d only blow myself out and be overtaken twice over. And I’d never live that down!
I’ve also recognised that I have an even deeper and slightly disfunctional competitive streak. And just occasionally, it takes over.
This happens when I’ve fallen victim to the “weak overtake”. It can happen no matter whether I’m running, swimming or cycling.
The ‘weak overtake’ is when someone overtakes me, and then boxes me in. That fellow has made too much effort to pass me by, and now he’s slowing in order to recover. And that’s messing with my pace.
Having only just overtaken me, it feels a bit rude for me to re-overtake, so I’ll hang back a while, waiting for him to pick up the pace again.
But when it doesn’t happen, I get impatient. And if he’s blocking me, then something inside me goes a bit David Banner…
I MUST show him that when you overtake, you should grow the gap – you DON’T sit on the man you’ve just bunny-hopped! LOOK, now you are bottlenecking the path for everyone else!! I begin to feel the URGE to let this idiot know that when you step up, you damn well bring the tools to stay up!!!
And that’s when I see red. And I re-overtake with extreme prejudice. Sometimes he gives chase and it aches to have to maintain my overtaking pace until I have created a clear and decisive gap.
Now folks, most of the time I’ll finish up fairly relaxed, having traveled along at a fair pace and having been overtaken by many better runners, swimmers or cyclists – job done, nothing to worry about, everybody happy.
But once in a while I’ll finish up hot, ragged and wobbly, and feeling ashamed that I let my competitive inner monster take control. And yet … a vague sense that justice might have prevailed.