By Glenne Fucci, Regular ContributorOctober 16, 2015
image via dailymail.co.uk
Competition: it can bring out the best in us and the worst in us. It helps to motivate us, pushes us to work harder, and can be a source of inspiration when we need it most. However, it can also be unbelievably damaging, depending on the context, and can lead us to put far too much pressure on ourselves to be the best. Sometimes we compete with others. Sometimes we compete with ourselves, but at the the end of the day we need to ask ourselves why we’re competing in the first place. What are we chasing after and will that thing make us feel better about ourselves, build ourselves up, and inspire those around us? That’s the kind of competition that should empower us!
This past weekend I competed in a duathlon (run, bike, run) in Central Park. I’ve run the same race before and I’ve placed every time, so I’m uber competitive when I get to that starting line.
I love pushing myself to the point where I don’t think I have one bit of juice left to keep me going, because that’s how I know I left it all out on the pavement.
All the early morning runs in the punishing heat and freezing rain, all the ice packs on aching joints, and all the missed sleep need to be worth something, right?
Unfortunately, because I want so badly to be a top finisher, I get super nervous before a race. Half the time, by the time I reach the starting line, I don’t even want to race anymore because my stomach is in knots. I try to relax and convince myself that the miracle of waking up a 6AM on a Sunday to push myself to spend 80 minutes beating my body up is enough of an accomplishment. The trophy is just extra. However, no amount of convincing seems to work, and it takes me into at least a mile to calm myself down enough to actually put my skills to the test.
Something pretty remarkable happened during this past race though. The running portions of the event are “out and back,” meaning that you run to a cone, turn around, and run back. While I was running back, I was facing the people behind me in the race head on. I was the 7th woman to loop around the cone, and the moment I did, other competitors started cheering me on from the opposite direction. They found it in themselves to shout a, “You got this, 78,” despite the fact that this was, in fact, a competition. I was particularly surprised that so many women were encouraging me with a, “You go girl!” So often we, as girls, are pitted against one other, told to tear each other down to build ourselves up, so being supported by the other ladies in the race (of which I didn’t even know their names) was enough to light the fire in my feet and glide me to the finish line.
Today was a reminder of why racing is so great. Yes, it’s a competition, but it’s also a community.
We all work hard and want to succeed... and we are probably far more competitive with our own selves than the general population, but we all want our fellow racers to cross that finish line too. Particularly in regards to women -- it’s not a hugely popular sport with girls my own age, so it feels so empowering for more seasoned, lady multi-sport athletes to encourage the next generation of girls, like myself, to keep competing.
Competition can be a beautiful thing when it brings people together and encourages them to be the best versions of themselves. In regards to our fellow girls, we should focus less on beating one another to the metaphorical finish line and more on encouraging one another to cross it. We’re stronger when we do incredible things as a community as opposed to all alone! So let’s get out there and cheer and empower one another to race, chase, and achieve those big things... who’s with me?!
Have you ever participated in race? Who supported you? Tell us below!
Glenne is a third year law student hailing from NYC, University of Michigan ‘13 grad and Beyonce enthusiast. Currently residing in Korea, her interests include duathlons/triathlons, traveling near and far, documentary films, consuming sugary cereal, watching mid-2000s teen dramas and singing her heart out at Betty Who concerts. You can watch her attempt to navigate Asia and beyond on Instagram @glennefucci.
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