Skipping the Race…
This weekend I was suppose to race, not only one race but two races. Two trail races to be exact but it’s Monday and instead of writing a race recap I am writing an non-race weekend recap.
Racing is fun. Racing fuels us. Racing gives us goals to strive for. Racing is contagious. Racing lets us gage our fitness level. Racing boosts the ego. Racing gives us more self-confidence. Racing can be good for the soul. However, racing can be a double edged sword. Racing can consume us. Racing can take us away from our families. Racing can become extreme. Racing can be selfish. Racing can become an addiction.
I love competition, since I was the age of 11 or so I have been a racer. The sport has changed over time but the title “racer” has been much like an unofficial middle name for me. Whether it was in skiing, telemarking, or more recently obstacles racing and trail running “racer” has been my self identity. I get my rush from racing, I like seeing my name on a finish result, podiums and winning are even cooler. It’s all fun, and in the process should help you get healthier and lead a healthy and happy lifestyle.
However, for those of us with that extreme gene we don’t know how to do something “just for fun” we take it on and jump in 100%. As Yoda says, “there is no try” this is how I have approached all my athletic endeavors, there is no try it’s do or do not. I couldn’t just be ok with disc golf, I had to go into a tournament. The same thing happened with telemarking, almost with Nordic skiing, it’s happened with hobbies as well, and it happened with obstacle racing, something that started on a lark and turned into an obsession and career.
I am 5 years into my obstacle racing obsession, it’s a passion for sure but it’s also an obsession, I can admit it. In year 1 (2010) it was just about fun and getting out there, results didn’t really matter and I was happy with a top 25% in a race.
In year 2 it started to get serious, I started this website as a blog, I hit a couple podiums, and I experienced a lot of successes I had never had before. That was the hook, after years of pushing, struggling, clawing and working my ass off to be just above the middle in major races, the allure of sweet, sweet success crept into my brain and the first sponsors came knocking.
Year 3, building on successes, now I was on the podium 50% of all the races I did, she allured me to race more and more. Sponsors were now paying me on a monthly basis to be on their teams, and I was able to quit my day job and pursue this new found passion. Success is a fickle creature and once she grabs you, you want more. I traveled the country, had a blast, and at the same time fell into my first real adult relationship.
Year 4, it was on track to look like a repeat of year 3 most of my time spent on the road traveling from race-to-race. In the beginning it was that way even traveling to cool international countries to race. Climbing ever higher up that mysterious train to somewhere. Then, a swift crash to the ground, injury. Why? Because after over two years of pushing and pushing my body, it pushed back and most of the year was spent healing and at home. Racing, she tugged hard at me the whole time, but all I could do was watch from the sidelines.
Year 5, the comeback? Year 5 is just about in the books for me and soon it will be time to enter the 6th season of this thing called OCR. Year 5 brought more and more opportunity in a widening expanse of work, now writing full-time and racing as well. I got to go some pretty awesome places but now finally half a decade into this journey I am just as likely to want to spend 2 days replacing a floor in our house than I do wanting to travel to another race.
So back to the beginning, this past weekend. The race entries were given to me and for the second time in 2014, I just decided I didn’t want to race and instead wanted to spend time with my boyfriend and our dog. Instead of running a race we went on an all day hike, found a cave, found a natural drinking spring in the mountains, made bread, made pickled eggs, fed chickens, played fetch with the dog, and did other seemingly mundane life stuff. I received no medals, no special applause at the end of our hike, nothing other than a big burrito and that’s the way it was suppose to be.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the world of sport, so wrapped up that you forget what you have right around you each day. As many say life is about balance. I don’t know if it’s that or a juggling act where you need all your balls to be about the same size to keep the flow going. The older I get the less I know. But I do know that sometimes NOT RACING is the best decision. I can still be a racer but I don’t have to let it define me, I am more than a racer.