Me, Athletic?

Guy and Lon crossing the finish line after a Zumbro Zig Zag

Guy and Lon crossing the finish line (last) after a Zumbro Zig Zag

Earlier this year Jen from the Rochester magazine interviewed me for a magazine article. The article focused on human interest topics, including a question about exercise. Jen asked if I’m athletic. Nope. I can’t even sit through a baseball game, and don’t ask me to watch sports on television.

After that off the cuff answer I rattled off all the “not-athletic” things I’ve done. Ever since high school when Mark and I played at tennis I’ve engaged in sports of one sort or another. One of my friends ran ultra-marathons. I’ve never run more than a 10K. Another friend regularly rides his bike across Minnesota (TRAM) or Iowa (RAGBRAI). I once rode a 100K circle and it darned near killed me. I loved playing racquetball, but never progressed out of the “C” leagues. Some of my buddies regularly competed in the Open or “A” tournaments. Even canoeing has held my interest, but not as much as my friend Andy. He left Rochester to kayak around Australia. My canoe competition once yielded last place in a Zumbro Zig Zag triathlon. Inauspicious at best, eh?

After telling Jen about all those athletic escapades I realized that my definition of athletic is incorrect. I have always compared myself to my friends abilities. Specifically, I compared my skills one at a time with the best of the field.

No matter where I looked, someone did better at an activity than I could. It didn’t matter what the activity was. I wasn’t the best at anything.

I almost fell into the trap of feeling like a failure. Instead, I fell into the trap of comparing myself to the wrong people. The only person I want to compare myself to is the person I want to be.

Since we’re on the athletic theme, let’s go with the triathlon idea. Remember, I finished last in one of them. How many dozen athletes finished ahead of me? Lots. How many finished behind me on that beautiful day? Continue reading