I thought you raced because you loved racing and pushing so hard. Why do you race?
At the crux of it, yes. I race because I love pushing myself as hard as I can, and I love seeing what happens when I reach my perceived limits. The answer is never the same.
Over the years my obsession with racing, aside from continuing to be a relatively healthy outlet for my overly-competitive nature, has definitely shifted. I used to be chasing some sort of outcome dream, doing this for some goal that I had attached some meaning to. There is still some of that, obviously, but ultimately racing has become my way of testing myself, but measuring against what? I don't really know. I know I'm looking at the beginning of the end of being able to topple my own records, but it doesn't seem to stop me. I've never really been consciously trying to prove myself to the world, but I'm sure there is some of that, too.
Maybe it all comes back to how much I just love winning. It doesn't happen very often, and I've never really chosen things that I'm inherently good at. I think I'd rather have that obsessive need to be first come out on the track than at the office. Does the masochistic need to suffer up those damn hills faster than my competitors really make me a better person Monday through Friday? If all I want is to be on the top step of the podium, why aren't I just entering local podunk races where nobody attends?
But maybe, racing is just some sad excuse for providing a reason to obsessively exercise, the dark side of some sort of controlling disorder, yet-to-be-diagnosed.
I claim that I can quit at any time, but I think we all know that's not true.
Makes sense to me. Don't mess with what works, right? Clearly your passion is there, and you use it constructively. Do you have to win for it to be good?
For me, I believe I am much more effective in the office because I train hard and I race (mostly myself!). I've long since accepted that podium finishes for me will only be the product of a small field...and I will still want to race for that great feeling of doing something better or faster than before. I'm actually setting PRs in my 40s,which is crazy. Perhaps I didn't try hard enough when I was younger?
Personally, it's better to leave my obsessively competitive streak on the "fields of friendly strife" (ah, MacArthur!) than to bring it into the office. I think I realized just what a difference it made in my life when I was in company command in my 20s - high stress, high reward job. My first sergeant used to kick me out of the office when I had a bad attitude to go fix it in the pool, on the bike, or on the trails. And what a difference that made. I've told my coworkers ever since that I will never growl at them for telling me I need to go for a run.
And then I think of what I accomplish after a great workout or even a great race weekend. I come back into my windowless, miserable little cube ready to tackle hard problems, focus, and brainstorm with my team. I can bring that energy to the group, and off we go. They usually know when I've had a good workout, and making fitness important in my life has encouraged some of my non-military teammates make time for their own physical pursuits during the day. It's a good thing.
I had no idea I was going to write that much. You ask yourself good questions, they inspired me to think, too!