This Gift or This Curse?

imageI will start by admitting my guilty pleasure: I am a big WICKED (the musical) fan. I know every word of every song, and love to play it extremely loud as I sing my heart out.  There. It’s out there. I said it.  Popular. Dancing Through Life. For Good. And…The Wizard and I.

The songs also play in my head during workouts. Today, as I trudged up a never-ending hill on my bike in 95 degree heat…it was a line from The Wizard and I that I could not get out of my head, “this gift or this curse, that I have inside..maybe at last I’ll know why”

I think this line started brewing from a comment my brother made yesterday while we were running. We decided to set out for our longest trail run, despite the oppressive heat. While running along at mile 13ish of 15ish, my brother was saying that we should give ourselves credit. Running 15ish miles in 90+ degree weather and only walking one hill was something to be proud of. He followed this up with, “we have a gift” ….I mumbled, “or curse?”

What did he mean by that statement? We both have been able to excel in multiple areas without doing the excessive training that most do. We can run 15 miles on a very hot day without much training under our belt. We can train for a marathon for half the time as most and do just as well, if not better. For me, I can play golf once a year and still shoot in the mid to low 40’s. I can join a volleyball team after only having played a few times and be asked if I played in college. I am naturally just an athletic person. I was a 3 sport all-conference/all-state athlete in High-School & a collegiate basketball player. However, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”  And mental toughness, I believe, is 75% of the battle.

On top of having a lot of natural athletic ability, I also work VERY hard.  I may not train as often as some people, but when I am on the trails, the bike, etc I am giving it EVERYTHING I have. I am looking at each training moment as a way to become a better competitor. The harder I work when training, the easier race time will be.

When I first started racing I would regularly place in my age group, however, now, with some experience and better training, I am imagestarting to place Top 3 Overall.

A gift….or a curse?

I love the idea that I have the ability to be elite. My brother said to me on the trail yesterday, “you have to start thinking differently. You have to start realizing that you could be one of the best around.” Now, that’s a pretty amazing thing. It’s also a pretty scary thing.  Scary as hell.  To be the best, it takes A LOT of hard work. Training in ways I haven’t even touched upon. It becomes a lot of pressure. It becomes fun in a different sort of way. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a top finisher at a race?

BUT, it also becomes more stressful. To commit to TRYING to be one of the best already sets you up to possibly fail.   Isn’t it just so much easier to “kind of” train, then finishing at an average time is expected?  Wouldn’t it be nice to just start at the middle or back of the pack and just enjoy the race…the only expectation to finish? I may never know what that feels like. I’m an all out competitor. If I enter a race it is to RACE. Otherwise, it’s a training run.

A gift or a curse…?

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