Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why Am I Up and Watching a Bicycle Race???

A quiet morning.  The sun begins its gentle rise up over the horizon, peeking through the small slats in my mini blinds, beckoning me to awaken and join the day.  I slowly open my eyes...stretch contentedly, smile, and get up from my warm bed to begin another day. 


Welcome back from the brief trip to Fantasy Land!  That's not really how it went down this morning around my house.  More like this...After getting only about 5 hours of sleep, having stayed up last night (and early this morning) to pick up my son from work at 1:00 AM, my body woke me up at 6:30, apparently deciding that I'd had enough sleep, although it is a perfectly wonderful Saturday morning when I could have stayed in bed for MUCH longer! 

So, why was I up?  Well, I can tell you this for sure.  I wasn't awake specifically to watch the bicycle race that was on my TV when I turned it on for some company (because you and I both know that my 20 and 17 year old sons were NOT awake at 6:30 this morning! Shoot...the DOG was barely awake!)  I was probably awake because I'm a middle-aged woman, learning how to adjust to her changing body, which apparently requires much less sleep than it used to.  (Boy, I hope that changes soon!  I feel tired, but wake up after only a few hours of sleep!)

So perhaps I'm asking myself the wrong question.  It's not "Why am I up?"...the better question is "Why did I watch bicycle racing?"

Well, I know nothing about bicycle racing other than there's a really long race through France each year that is bigger than the Super Bowl...if you're a Frenchman and don't have an NFL team to cheer for.  (For those of us who bike race will EVER hold a candle to good old American FOOTBALL...but I digress!)  My point is that I didn't watch bicycle racing because I'm a big fan of the sport.  Nor did I watch it because it was the only thing on my television.  I could easily have changed the channel and found any number of things that would have interested me.  That's the beauty of paying Verizon for FiOS every month...literally thousands of channels at my disposal.  But I didn't.  I kept it on.  Probably for the same reason that I watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics last night.  This is the OLYMPICS, for goodness sake...the biggest competition EVER!

To me, there's something wonderful about watching the culmination of an athlete's training and preparation play out in competition.  In fact, I get so captured by it that I forget I'm not a fan, that I know next to nothing about the sport, and I'm right there, cheering along with those who live and breathe bicycle racing!  Competition will do that to me.  It always has.

When I was younger, I used to compete at both team and individual sports.  I enjoyed the contests...and winning, which I did a lot.  And I hated losing.  As I got older, for some reason, I changed my focus to academic competitions versus physical ones, perhaps because I changed to a very sedentary lifestyle in my late teens and early 20's and didn't win the athletic pursuits nearly as often.  I still played the brain games to win, though.  And often did (and still do!).

What maturity has now taught me, however, is that competing is really only of value in my life long term if the person I'm competing against is myself.  Oh, there's nothing like the thrill of victory beating someone in a game of cards or board game.  But that feeling is short lived.  Competing against myself in my pursuits, though, is an entirely different euphoria when I win.  And it's a much more lasting and satisfying result.

I'm sitting here at my desk as I write this post.  Under the glass top that protects my grandmother's antique wooden desk is the bib from my first (and so far only) 5K race.  Just looking at that number 68 makes me smile almost a year later because I easily remember the victory that day.  Oh, I didn't win that race.  In fact, I came in pretty much dead last in the Cougarthon 5K.  (Angie and Dan were with me and wouldn't let me cross last, but let's face it, I was the last place finisher.)  But I was competing with ME...not those other runners.  I had never even come close to walking that far before, much less trying to do it quickly.  I won that day because I finished...finished when I really wasn't sure that I could! 

Now, 10 months later, I can walk/run a 5K in a much faster time than I set that day.  And every time I step on the treadmill, I try to beat it.  I'm not always successful at bettering my time, just like I don't always win the other games I play against people, but I'm always out there competing...going for the win.  Competition fuels wonderful things in me.  Perseverance.  Determination.  Effort.  So many positive and useful character traits are on display in my life when I choose to compete.

So, why was I watching a bicycle race at such an early hour this morning instead of sleeping snugly in my nice warm bed?  Because the drama of the competition drew me in, like it always does.  And by the way...the finish of that race?  Completely unexpected!  I won't be a spoiler and tell you who won, but I'll say was worth watching!  High drama!  (And we all know what a true drama queen I am! Ha!)

Have a great day, friends.  Go COMPETE...and WIN!!!

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