Tag Archives: drive

To Race or Not to Race: That Is the Question

I am competitive.  It’s not like I hip check small children to get ahead of them in line or anything.  I prefer creating distractions so they don’t notice.

On one hand, I treasure my competitive nature.  It motivates me to get out bed each day and leads to achievements otherwise beyond imagination.  But on the other hand, it drives me a little wackadoodle.  Sometimes, staying in bed would be a nice change of pace.

My ongoing affair with running is a prime example.  After a twenty-plus year break, I started running again in 2010 and in the past six years have completed four half-marathons and a variety of shorter races—and it has been awesome.  I love the thrill of the big race where all sorts of humanity gather on a weekend morning for a good cause, and I love the battle within myself to see if the long hours of training can produce a new PR (“personal record”).

But training for those races tends to make me a little nutty.  I do, mostly, enjoy those training runs, watching my times, seeing improvement, envisioning the big race, and counting down the days, but it has a tendency to become an obsession, which is a nicer way of saying that I become a little like Yosemite Sam but only in a bad mood.  And that’s no fun.

Recently, I have enjoyed running with friends all over the map—from Paul in Kenya to Dodie and Rusty in Arkansas to all sorts of friends in California.  With no race on the calendar, I simply enjoyed the company and stories and scenery without worrying about times or mileage or anything.  And yet, signing up for a race calls me like a siren.

I’ll do it.  I know I will.  And on certain days I will regret it, most notably on race day when my lungs are burning and I open up negotiations with God.  But when it’s over, and I inhale that intoxicating sensation of accomplishment, I will be glad.

Internal Drive

“And even when we’re doing the thing we love, there can be frustrations, disappointments, and times when it simply doesn’t work or come together. But when it does . . .” – Ken Robinson, “The Element”

I will run the Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach on Sunday morning alongside seventeen thousand other nutjobs. I will try to sleep Saturday night but fail. Known fact. Still, I will rise early, drive forever in the darkness to run far too long far too fast and hurt far too long afterward. I paid money to do this, and I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Logic is obviously not driving this bus.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 revealed my top three strengths as: Discipline; Strategic; Achiever. Maybe my fidgety excitement for an endurance race is not so illogical after all. I love setting a goal, making a plan, relentlessly sticking to it, and going for it all out. That is “me” at my strongest.

The description of Achiever in StrengthsFinder 2.0 says, “Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical.” (You think?) “It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out.” (And/or, run many miles?) “It is the theme that keeps you moving.” (Well, let’s hope so on Sunday morning.)

The race may be a disaster, but it may not, and it is the latter that has me doing such a crazy thing. Deep down, it doesn’t really matter how it goes. What matters to me is the “going” (for it).

What do you love? What is your element? What are your particular strengths? The answers are worth discovering, for they will lead you to places that maybe only you find special. But you’ll know the special.