By Cheri Felix
First off, if you’re like the one percent that really does just race for fun, I guess this might not apply to you but stick with me just in case.
For those of us that have raced in any sport, we’ve all lined up next to someone who said “I’m just out here to have fun. I don’t care how I do.” Okay, let me deconstruct that for you. What they’re really saying is “I’m totally afraid to say that I care. I’m totally afraid someone will think I’m a fraud. I’m totally afraid that I will be disappointed. I’m. Just. So. Totally. Afraid.” I think we are afraid that we might care. That we might want to see ourselves improve. We are afraid that someone might call us out for caring too much. For taking ourselves too seriously.” Maybe you’ve never heard this but I had someone say about me “She’s a bit much isn’t she?”
Racing is hard. I never finish a race whether it’s running or bikes and think “I’m just happy to be out here.” Of course I’m happy to be out here. Wouldn’t that be weird if I wasn’t? I’m happy and I also want to do my best. And if I could win (might not happen in my town) (or any other town) that would be awesome. I still remember how long I wore the 3rd place medal from Cross of the North two years ago. Racing isn’t only hard because your heart rate is at its max, it’s hard because you are putting yourself out there. You’re saying that YOU, God forbid, CARE HOW YOU DO. Gasp! It’s like a first date. You get all dressed up and brush your hair and you shave. Of course you care.
Okay, so here’s the kicker. I’ve coached young women and let me tell you, they care and yes, they’re having fun but they want to leave every bit out on the course. No regrets. And can we care and try really, really hard and still have fun? You bet your cowbell you can. And when we think we can’t and when we say “I’m just out here to have fun” and some young junior hears us say that, we are sending the wrong message.
It’s okay to care. It’s okay to want to win or to come in the middle or to not DNF (did not finish). Does that mean there’s something wrong with the woman who comes in last? Hell. No. Don’t think that for a second. I’ve been last more times than I can count out at short track. But I kept going back. Because I care. Because every time I line up, I want to finish that race knowing that there was nothing left in the tank. I want to know that I got every bit out of the 40 bucks I paid to race. I want to know that my dead mother would be so astounded by me. And I want everyone around me (including my 500 Facebook friends) to know that I care. Because why not. I do care.
It’s okay if you don’t really care but I challenge you to keep that to yourself. When you say that at the start are you trying to convince me or are you trying to convince you? Because I’m good. I’ve got enough mind chatter of my own. I challenge all of us. Let’s be okay with caring. Let’s teach our daughters that it’s okay to care about the results. Is it the be all end all? No. Is it your only barometer? No. Results are data. And just like it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to care.
See you at the races!