Sunday, September 25, 2011


Competition brings out the best in me. This was affirmed earlier this week while working out on the static bike in preparation for an Ironman that I have signed up for next May. As I began to peddle at my usual 90 rpm’s, I noticed a man doing the same next to me. We started peddling in sequence coincidentally. As our workout got more intense, I began to wonder how good of shape I was in and challenged myself to go faster. Every few minutes I would sneak a glimpse at the man’s screen until it was obvious what I was trying to do. I’d look at his heart rate, speed, rpm’s and distance in order to ensure that he wasn’t beating me in any of those categories. It didn’t bother me that he may have felt like “prey,” for I knew that deep down he probably enjoyed the pace and the added benefit of having a stranger pushing him. When he sprinted, I sprinted. There was no need to declare “fight’s on,” we knew what was happening. There we were, two in shape athletes, albeit strangers, competing for the satisfaction of being better than the other.

I am a big advocate of competition. When two equally able parties engage in it, more often than not it will bring the best out of them. There is a time a place for it though. Not everything in my world revolves around being stronger or better. There are some in this world who believe in the mantra “sink or swim.” They know only two columns “winning or losing.”
Life is not a competition. It is a journey that can be especially hard on those who do not enter it equipped with the right education, socioeconomic background or strong bonds of a family as support. In short, life is not fair. And so making various components such as school, jobs and diplomacy into a zero sum game, creates a class of haves and have-nots.

I’ve competed my entire life. I know when to turn it on and turn it off. I am thankful that I have an instinct about me that enables me to rise to the occasion and accept the challenge. I am equally thankful that I have been blessed to been able to compete in the arenas that I have. I make no illusions that I have done this on my own. I’ve had a lot of help along the way. If you were true to yourself, you’d realize that you probably have too.

In May I plan on completing an Ironman. That is a 2.5 miles swim, 112 mile bike followed by a 26.2 mile marathon. I’ll be competing against a field of some of the top athletes in the world. I don’t plan to place, all I want to do is hang my head up high and walk away with my dignity. I’m sure I’ll find myself peddling alongside another athlete on the course and kick it into overdrive. But I won’t do it for the thought of a medal, I’ll do it for myself. Because at the end of the day, that’s whose opinion will matter the most.