I recently had someone ask why I race. I definitely go on the record as a lover of running first and and lover of competition second. So, I found that question to be rather challenging. So this is my attempt to answer that question: why do I race (even if it’s just a few times a year)?
I feel that I can answer this is a few ways. There are a lot of things I do like about racing. You can meet really great people, feel companionship with a group of people striving for, and hopefully arriving at, a common goal. It’s nice to have aid stations and some kind of memento afterword, whether it’s a t-shirt, medal, or pint glass.
It’s also really nice to get a change of scenery. Races make you travel most of the time, which is fun. Running through both Washington DC and my town gave me a newfound appreciation and it was an awesome to tour in a new way.
However, if I really was honest, I don’t think I would ever NEED to race. I’m not overly competitive or care that much about my time. I do find that I push myself a little harder when I race. It’s hard not to. People cheering and encouraging you is a natural performance enhancer. However, it’s what happens when I push myself that really is the reason that keeps me racing. When I run, and especially when I push myself, I find a new strength that I never knew existed. I develop a new respect for what my body is capable of, because you only know what you’re capable of after you go past the point of comfort and ease. I see a side of myself that I would see otherwise. In essence, when I run and when I race, I develop into a better version of myself, even if it’s just for a few hours. I don’t give up and I don’t focus on the past. I focus on what is happening, in the present, and how I can overcome one step at a time.
My wife jokes that I’m addicted to running. I would maybe just say that I’m am becoming addicted to the best possible version of myself at that time. And, I suppose, that’s why I race.