The games we play

Passing on the left is customary on the highway and in competitions. But when I rode up behind a couple of women in the Hale Reservation (offroad) triathlon last weekend, I SO wanted to pass on the right.

It took me forever to get around these two, owing to the width of the trail and the obstacles we were attacking in that particular half-mile or so. It gave me time to assess their bikes, their gear, their clothing, all in an effort to determine if we have comparable mountain biking skills, if I really should have caught and passed them earlier.. but most importantly, if we were close in age. That’s why I wanted to pass on the right: at registration, competitors’ ages were marked on our right calves.

Before you judge me as shallow, consider my motive. It’s all part of the game: mentally, passing someone younger would give me a boost. Passing someone the same age but who was well-equipped, gear-wise, could also be considered a win. But if they were on their kids’ Huffy bikes and wearing Sketchers, not so much. Get it? Of course, passing a guy of any condition or age is always a major moment of excitement, mostly because the men started well before the women in the swim (and I loved that an entire wave of them had the pink bathing caps on!). Yes, I passed a couple on the bike, and a couple more running. Score!

The mental game has so many facets for me. I’m racing against myself primarily, and my inner gremlins are my biggest obstacles (thoughts like “why can’t I get my legs to go faster? I must have some serious degenerative disease that is keeping me from moving them, like in a bad dream” and “I suck because I didn’t get out and run more because I had to work so much last week because the bills are stacking up..”). Turning down those thoughts by focusing on the competition is so much more motivating and positive.

Yet I relapse at times, too. During the final phase, the trail run, one of the two mountain biking women had gotten in front of me again and she turned to a fellow competitor on the trail for a momentary chat. Hey, wait a minute, I thought. We’re all the same age, playing in the same sandbox, maybe I should be social too.. but then would I find out that they’re not the secret superheroes I’ve built them up to be? What if I catch up to them and find out they’re just from the neighborhood and decided to do the race on a lark? That would be so deflating.

Still, I wanted someone to tell me if I’d gotten chocolate Gu all over my face (as I suspected, trying to consume it on the bumpy bike ride). That just wouldn’t look good in the post-race Flickr photos, you know, girlfriend?

Hale Reservation in Westwood is an idyllic place until the gremlins of doubt get into your head

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One Response to “The games we play”

  1. Hello Ladies Says:

    Congratulations on the race. I would have told you about the Gu – except I would never be anywhere near you in a race.

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