• Josh Carmody

Eight Hundred and Forty Seventh Place

As you know from last week, competition is something that can bring out my ugly side. It seems as though this is something that we all struggle with, to one degree or another. However, competition doesn't always have to bring out the worst in us. Competition can drive us to be our best.

Go back in time with me to Sunday, October 16th, 2016. My family and I are staying in Des Moines, Iowa and it's currently 7 am. I had just eaten a banana for breakfast, drank some coffee (had to get the "system moving"), said goodbye to my family, and went outside. It was time to get ready for my first, and to date only, marathon.

In case you are wondering, a marathon is 26.2 miles long. Yes, I had voluntarily signed up to run this marathon and was successful in finding a buddy who was willing to run with me. Oh yeah, I paid $100 to run this race. But I got a zip pullover and a medal. So we all know who got the better deal here.

With the support of my friend, we slowly made our way to the starting area. At 8 am we were off and running (pun intended).

The first ten miles were great! Running with hundreds of people gives you such a rush. We made it to the track where the Drake Relays take place. A video camera was set up on the track and it projected my already red and sweaty face onto the jumbotron. It was fun. Unfortunately, it was pretty much downhill from there.

At 13 miles I was ready to be done but that was only the halfway point. At mile 16 or so a young man ran with us for a little bit. He was telling us that he had run over 50 marathons, wanted to run one in every state, and had successfully run two marathons in two days. Impressive. As he began to break away from us, I was in awe that this man, who was well into his 60's by the way, was flying by a couple of guys in their 30's.

You want to talk about ego and competition at that moment? None of those thoughts filled my head. We didn't try to catch up or keep pace. We kept on running at our own pace.

During the marathon, we had the privilege of running with a young couple. This boyfriend and girlfriend were in their 20's. The girlfriend had never run a marathon before and so we were all in this together. The boyfriend, on the other hand, had run a marathon the weekend before; in under three hours. Oh, did I fail to mention that we were on pace to run our marathon in four and a half hours? Again, no thoughts filled my head that I needed to prove something or beat someone that day.

I finished the race with a lightning fast time of 4:53:23. The average finishing time that day was 4:40:13. You could say that I'm an average marathon runner. I came in at number 847 out of 1373. Hundreds of men and women had literally outrun me that day. Did I care? Not. One. Bit.

Why would a competitive guy not be concerned with winning and taking home first place? There are a couple of reasons. First of all, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would not beat Boaz K. who finished the marathon in 2:16:03. Secondly, I wasn't running against anyone else that day. I was running against myself. This was a test of mind over matter.

Could I force my body, and my mind, to run for almost 5 hours? Could a guy, who hates running, finish a marathon? Could I do more than what I thought was possible?

The competition wasn't someone else on that day, it was me.

When I was training for the marathon the goal was to build endurance. Go farther and faster this week than last week. When the next week came, it was the same goal.

I have no aspirations to run another marathon but keeping my body healthy is still a priority in my life. I spend a few days a week running a few miles. My goal this year is to run a 5k (3.1 miles) in under 25 minutes. Should be fun.

When lifting weights, the goal for me is to lift more than last week or last month. There is no way I could ever compete with the other guys in the gym. There's nothing for me to prove. I'm happy to compete with myself in order to see my personal goals accomplished.

How about you? It doesn't have to be sports related. When has competing with yourself ever caused you to do more than you thought possible? When has it brought out your best?

Until Monday, Josh

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© 2020 Josh Carmody.                                                                   Contact: josh@clearlycarmody.com 

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I work at New Covenant Christian Church in Fort Dodge, IA. Everything here, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of New Covenant Christian Church.