Monday, May 16, 2005

Destination or Journey?

Yesterday was the Bay to Breakers 7.5 mile race, 100,000 people racing, running or parading in various stages of inebriation from the Bay Bridge to Ocean Beach. I did it my first year in San Francisco, arriving at the starting line 90 minutes before the horn to make sure I could get a place near the start so I could actually run. I am glad I did the race once but would not do it again; it was too crowded and crazy for my taste and I wasn’t down with the whole pre-race tortilla throwing bit. Instead, I ran 11 miles alone yesterday morning before the madness.

This attitude of avoiding racing, coupled with my DNF at Wildflower makes me wonder (yes, this does read like the beginning of a Sex in the City episode) whether it is ultimately more satisfying to be competitive or judge yourself versus other people or your own expectations. Is it more heroic to push yourself up Lincoln Rd. at 7:00 am with no one watching or to fight through the pain against other fit people with hundreds of people watching you?


This does not just apply to individual timed sports, in which you are competing as much against a clock (and prior performances) as your expectations and other competitors. At work, I tend to judge myself against my own expectations or desires, which are not always consistent. Working a 12-hour day can give me satisfaction and make me accomplish a lot professionally, but then I feel like I am losing the battle in other categories such as friendship, fitness, parent, MTV reality show viewer, etc.

Some have written that it is not what you do or accomplish in life but who you do it with that matters. I think this is a great philosophy but how does that apply to time spent alone. What ultimately matters when you are alone?