When in elementary school and even junior high, I loved to race against my friends from this tree to the second driveway. I was always a winner in my eyes because I either won or was very close to winning, or I was racing someone who was obviously going to be faster than me.
Even when I was out of my league, I enjoyed the race itself — the effort it took to beat someone else across the finish line.
At some point along the way, I began to question why I was trying so hard to win, especially if winning took every ounce of energy I had. Even if II did not win, and the exertion made me want to vomit when I finished the race.
That question — why am I doing this? — did not make me stop racing in track and on the soccer field, but I think it did change the level of effort I placed in preparing for races and in running the races.
I honestly wish I had never questioned why I was racing to lose. I wish I had held tight to the idea that leaving all of my energy on the field or the track because I pushed myself to the brink was worth it, even if I was dry heaving in the grass and placing third or fourth in the race.
I wish that because then I would have never allowed myself to develop the habit of slacking or procrastinating.
It has taken me much too long to come full circle and appreciate the way competition can be the thing that drives you to do better rather than the thing that shows how bad you are.
Finding the balance between allowing competition to drive you and allowing it to embarass you is hard, and now that I am older and slower, it is even more embarrassing to be the last one to cross the finish line — expect that I am older and older bodies are slower. It happens to everyone.
I see it in my parents, as they curse the years that prevent them from doing tasks that were once easy for them to do, like hop onto the bed of a pick-up truck or lift the other end of the couch and move it down the stairs.
This weekend, tribal entities offer an array of challenges for all ages — competitions that allow for people to compete in races that challenge our endurance and strength.
I encourage people to go out and participate in those challenges with a young and excited heart. Don’t worry about a win or a lose. Instead, enjoy the race — the thrill of giving something your all, and the joy of having finished, knowing you left it all on the track or the course.
The Takoja games were for children K-6 on Tuesday.
Adults and teens 13 and older had the opportunity to participate in the Ohitika Challenge and then the Family Glow Run on Wednesday evening at the Fitness Center.
Today, the Fitness Center added the Strong Challenge for weightlifters and Saturday morning there is the annual 5K Walk/Run.
All of these competitions are opportunities to allow competition to push you to your limits, and show you that you are capable for more than your mind sometimes lets you believe. I hope to see you on the course and wish you the best of luck.