During an interview with my first running coach years six years ago, he asked me "Why do you want to race?"
"To win, of course!" was my quick reply.
Now my competitive spirit seems to be on vacation and has been since reuniting with my birth family. I still enjoy my runs, especially with my girlfriends, but my super intense "crush my competition"self is no where to be found. Sure, other issues like my new job or age may be at play, but how does meeting my birth family weigh in? Naturally, running gave me plenty of time to ponder this question.
As an adopted child with an active imagination, I could not help but think that someone could be watching me. Birth mom could be anywhere, watching me grow up. What if she suddenly appeared? Or what if I recognized her while out running errands, after all, I was told that her family may live nearby. In my little kid brain, I needed be ready. I needed to be perfect. I needed to be great.
Now that I think about, life was my stage. I always had an imaginary audience as I danced around the living room in my purple tutu. Somewhere in my subconscious, I was always preparing to meet my birth mom and I did not want to disappoint her. My adopted mom saw my "all-the-world's-my-stage" tendency and kept me far away from a passion that could have taken me to scary, far away places as an adult. Since the real stage was out, I took up sports.
To my delight, Dad called me the Athlete of the Family. My brothers were not sporty, so within our household I was finally "great" at something. I tried everything: gymnastics, tennis, swimming, softball, basketball. In high school I finally settled on running, focusing on sprints and later cross country. I got as far as "pretty good." Good enough to be part of the State Cross Country Championship team as a senior. Good enough not to disappointment someone watching me from a far...maybe.
Fast forward a few decades, and there I sat interviewing a running a coach, still striving for greatness or massive improvement anyway. I needed an outlet for my competitive spirit after my son was born, plus I had unfinished business to take care of on the track. What if I had tried harder in high school? What if I had really focused and trained hard. Could I have been number one or two on the team instead of four or five? Could I have gotten better scholarship offers? I needed to know. Someone could be watching me. I needed to be ready!
I got in great shape and ran some decent times. Not great times (in my opinion), but good enough to win an award or two. I'm still striving to run under twenty minutes in a 5K. Or am I? Again, since happily reuniting with my birth mom and family, the goal is just not as motivating to me. Why? I think I may have just figured it out.
My true moment of greatness, my true dream is now realized.
Birth mom no lingers in my imagination. She is actually here, cheering on all of my good enough moments because- guess what- our reunion is so miraculous that good enough is actually GREAT.