Have you ever watched the fastest people in a marathon or other big race and wondered “how do they run so fast!?” You ogle at how fast their time was, and think “I could never do that.”
Today I met someone who could.
My fiancé, Kyle, and I have been waking up just before 5 am for the past few months to go to the gym. This morning, I sorted through my shirts and picked my Falmouth Road Race t-shirt… maybe a bit subconsciously as I was feeling a little bummed out that I didn’t sign up this year, and lottery numbers were announced yesterday.
We groggily made our way to the car, drove there as the sun began to rise, and got going with our respective workouts.
We’ve begun to recognize the regulars who are there no matter what, and one of them is an older gentleman who I swear is like the mayor of planet fitness.
As he dismounts his workout bike, always the second one from the end, he gets nods and waves from fellow gym-goers, and as we leave we can always find him chatting it up with the next person.
I finished up my workout, walked by the mayor of planet fitness and he said, “So did ya like falmouth?” Why it’s my favorite race to talk about! “It’s a great race,” I said, “you’ve run it?”
“Oh yes,” he said, “I ran it one time and one time only”.
We talked about how fun the race is, the energy, the crowd, the heat, and the dreaded hill at the end.
He went on to tell me about the first and the last time he ran the Falmouth Road Race, when he was 70 years old. He had been in the hospital the year before, and ran it against his doctor’s recommendation.
“Now to hold myself accountable, I made a goal. I would finish the race in under two hours. And wouldn’t you know, I finished in an hour and 52 minutes!”
By that time, Kyle had walked over, and we smiled and congratulated him for the accomplishment.
“You know,” he went on, “I wrote an article about that run called ‘How I Won the Falmouth Road Race’ because for me, just finishing it meant I won. The only person you can compete against is yourself, and it’s important to set goals for you and you only.”
And he’s right. There’s no sense looking at those people who win races like that and think I could never do that. Because then you don’t even try.
For him, finishing that race was as good as coming in first, and we could all learn from that.
I saw a bit of myself in him, though he didn’t know it. Each morning we got up to go to the gym and each lunch time run, I was competing against myself, setting a goal for me and me only. I wasn’t lifting the heaviest weights, or running the furthest or fastest on the treadmill. Other women have much larger muscles than I, and lack the CF pot belly that I like to rock.
But staying healthy and fit is my own goal for my own health and well-being.
We have got to stop comparing ourselves to every one else. We are all at a different starting point, and a different point on our journey. The point is to reach your own goals, not to necessarily be the best, but to just start somewhere, wherever that may be in your own scope of life.
A 5K for one person could be as hard as a marathon for another, but the most important thing is that we start somewhere, we reach towards our own goals, for ourselves and ourselves only.