The year my friend Faye turned 50, she wanted to run a 10K. She asked if we could run the race together and I was happy to oblige. Her goal was to run the distance without walking and finish in a respectable time. Â She made this announcement in February and chose a race a couple months away to give her adequate time to train and slowly build up to the 6.2-mile distance.Â The race was Get-In-Gear, a 10K in Minneapolis, Minnesota, chosen as a mid-way point between us and for it’s proximity to her 50th birthday.
Faye followed a running program and often pulled herself out of bed early to run because it was the only time of day she could fit it in. Â She became more aware of her diet and fueled her body with the nutrition it needed to recover and get stronger. Â We kept each other informed of our training challenges and victories.
On the eve of race day, we picked up our race packets and made a plan to meet early the next morning. At the starting line, we lined up in the middle of the pack and made a pact to finish together.
The gun fired and off we went, starting strong and steady.Â We chatted through the first mile, preparing ourselves for the hill toward mile two. We meandered through beautiful, tree-lined neighborhoods making miles three and four pass quickly.
Near mile five, Faye became quiet and slightly picked up the pace. I could tell she was anxious to finish. As we rounded the corner at mile six, we heard cheers and announcements and saw the finish line chutes.Â The final two blocks were emotional as I watched my friend dig dip, determined to reach her goal. Â As we high-fived at the finish line, tears of pride rolled down my cheeks.Â The finish time didnâ€™t matter â€“ only that she had accomplished her goal.
A few months later, Faye and I ran another 10K, a small-scale race in my hometown of River Falls, Wisconsin.Â We again made a pact to finish together. The Mid-July day was hot and humid and the sun beat down on the notorious, shade-free course. We paced ourselves as we chatted, knowing the heat would take its toll. Among the 400 runners were my neighbors, friends and colleagues. As each of them passed us, they politely wished us a good race. We nodded and reciprocated the sentiments, but inside I was hoping we would see them later â€“ as we caught and passed them. One-by-one the runners moved around us, leaving only the EMT biker behind us.
With the distance widening between the running pack and us, the biking medic hesitantly pulled to the side and told us he needed to check the status of the other runners.Â He biked ahead, leaving us to fend for ourselves.
Being competitive, my internal alarm began to sound. My pride was screaming to ditch Faye and run my own race.Â Attempting to hide my humiliation, I made small talk about the course.Â I truly wanted to be ok finishing last, but the competitive beast in me rose up and made it difficult to reconcile that the guy being paid to finish last would beat us across the finish line. I tried to speed up the pace, but Faye pulled back and said she needed to take it slow.Â Sensing my slight irritation, she told me I could go on ahead.
Picturing the cartoons with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, I debated with myself over my options. The devil side urged me to push ahead and save my pride. The angel side reminded me that my ego was inflated and unaware. Â Either way, I decided I would lose something â€“ my pride or the trust of my friend. I determined her friendship was more important.
As we ran in silence, Fayeâ€™s speed increased.Â I donâ€™t know if it was her compassion for my pride, or her strong competitive spirit that prompted her to push, but between breaths, she said,Â â€œya know, Samantha, we are beating every single person who didnâ€™t get out of bed this morning to run.â€
That comment jolted me and made me laugh. I realized I had been operating from a place of ego. My attitude was coming from the fear of being judged.Â I was also swelling with an entitlement mentality â€“ as in, â€œjust because I could run faster, didnâ€™t mean I was.â€œÂ We often do this to ourselves â€“ we get filled with anger, agitation, or anxiety because what we expect to happen doesnâ€™t match what is occurring.Â When we begin to accept the moment from a place of awareness, we can appreciate what is, instead of what our ego tells us it should be. Inside of that awareness is a sense of calm and sometimes comedy.
In the case of the River Falls Days run, I had a choice â€“ I could be disappointed, or focus on the fun friendship and emerging story of change. Â I chose the laughter over the pride and was grateful for the beautiful morning. We didn’t finish last, but in the end realized Faye had completed the 6.2-mile distance 20 minutes faster than her first 10K race â€“ an accomplishment to be respected and admired. Â We celebrated our victory and still laugh about beating everybody who didnâ€™t run.
An experience I would have considered ordinary became extraordinary through the power of perspective.
To learn more about the Powerful Perspectives System of Change, attendÂ one of the following programsÂ hosted by The River Falls School District Community Education:
~Super Saturday, February 26, 2011, 9 – noon at the River Falls High School (sessions begin at 9 am, 10 am, or 11 am).
~Become the Most Powerful You, Thursdays Feb 24 and March 3 from 5 pm – 6:30 pm.
To register, click on “RFSD Community Education” under “WORKSHOPS” on the sidebar of this story.
~Receive Powerful Perspectives, Notes on Perspectives & Share Your Powerful Perspectives on a regular basis.Â Â Click the blue “f” and become a fan on facebook.