On Sunday, I took the kids to my running club’s low-key weekly series race to run a two-miler. This was my daughter’s second go at the distance. The first time we ran it together, we took a few walking breaks. This time–she was having none of that. She was all about running the whole thing.
My son set off ahead and I stuck with my daughter. One of her little friends was there running with his family, also. We started out with them and stayed with them for quite some time. Then her friend moved a bit ahead of her. Well, that was all it took–her competitive side kicked in and she surged on. We caught and passed her friend (just), where we stayed for the remainder of the race. Any time I heard her friend approaching from behind, my little gal picked up her pace. It made me laugh to see her doing this.
As we were getting closer to the finish, she told me, “I just want to beat 21:46.” I was amazed that she could remember her time from the last two-miler and that she cared that much about it. I told her she could comfortably beat her time if she kept up the running. We crossed the finish line in 19:55 by my watch.
Later in the day, I mentioned to her that I noticed she picked it up every time her friend got close. Her response to me was one word/one name: her brother’s. She wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t tease her for getting beaten by one of her friends.
Oh, my readers. I wish I could say that didn’t sound just like me, but I’d be lying. When I was her age, pride in accomplishment often came in the form of where I placed in this or that competition and ensuring that there was no one who would have any reason for laughing at my performance.
The question is–have I changed much since then? Yes and no. I truly do care much more about the clock than in who I beat, and I care about my performance for me. But do I also care if my time is respectable in the eyes of others? I have to admit, I do.
I know that’s silly for someone my age, but it is what it is. The truth of the matter is that no one is paying as much attention, or judging me, as me. I know this. But it’s still there, and it probably has quite a bit to do with my motivation at its core, if I care to look in a mirror. Will I ever outgrow it? Who knows?