It is never fun to lose when one is actually competing. Those who say otherwise are fibbing. There are things, however, which make losing more palatable. Circumstances which make it okay to not be the first one to the finish line -like when it is a close friend who is the one who beats you.
Yesterday in the inaugural Sandbox Indoor Trail Marathon my plan was to run about as close to three hours as possible. With the unique downward-facing capital letter “E” looped course that runners would traverse 120 times, I knew this goal would be daunting. Tight turns and runners being as careful as possible to not run into each other were just added obstacles to running a relatively quick marathon time. My good friend, Dani, who had raced just a few times in the past six months, was prepping for a cross-country move and was therefore hardly trained, was shooting for a time around 3:10.
When my energy slipped out of me as if someone was siphoning it from my head around the 20th mile, and Dani ended up passing me after being half a mile behind, I smiled – even through clenched teeth. My tunnel vision made me grab my knees on more than one occasion in the last few miles and hope I could even finish the race, but I could see clearly enough to be happy a friend was the one leaving me in the dust (literally.)
It has been said that there is no such thing as an unselfish act. Whether selfishness in and of itself is a bad trait is left for others to debate. And whether being happy for Dani even as she stomped my tuchus was true happiness could be argued as well. I do know, however, as she passed me, and went on to one of the fastest times ever run by a woman in an indoor marathon ever (at the time this article goes to print verification of her actual standing has not been done) the only good feeling I had was that a friend was beating me. My mind was done, my body hated me, but I was smiling.
In many other sports there is a winner and a loser. The winners score more points (or in some sports less) and the other person or team most definitely did not “win.” However, the unique thing about running is that even though there is still a winner, there are rarely people who would think those who did not finish first would be a loser. I was definitely beaten by Dani (and three other people as well) but being able to cross the finish upright made me feel like a winner. And if there was anyone in the race who I did not mind if they crossed the finish line before me, it was definitely my good friend.