The competition is out there. She is training when you are sleeping. He is doing speed work while you are catching your breathe. Mine is out running while I can see him pass my house from my couch. He is a good 20 years older than I am. We have never talked. I don't know where he lives. He is known in my house as "the competition".
When we moved to our current home over a year ago, I started seeing him quickly and often. He seems to do a lot of running right as I am getting home. He has a funny little stride. Not powerful or graceful or anything pretty. Elbows at 90 degrees with tiny little swings. As a passerby I would probably giggle if I saw him out.
Last summer I was headed back to the house from a 4 mile out and back. As I approached the last intersection before my house, leaving me .7 miles to go, "the competition" had just turned onto the same stretch of road. He was about 20 yards in front of me. The race was on! I upped my tempo. Increased my stride length. I knew right then no "oldie" was going to beat me back to my house, but as he got smaller and smaller I thought, "this guy came to play today." It was not my day. If I recall correctly, this was the day he was nicknamed, "the competition".
Fast forward to 2010. This past weekend I was in the middle stretch of my 16 week marathon training and my schedule called for a 14 mile run. I broke it down into one loop at 9.x miles and a second loop of 4.x miles. The first 13 miles went great but as with all long runs, when your done, your done. As I approached the final intersection to make the home stretch, I spotted "the competition" only this year we were in the opposite locations. I was a bit closer and going to make the turn before he got to the intersection. I had a disadvantage compared to him circa 2009...I only had maybe an 18 yard advantage, not the football field 20 yards he had, yet I would not let this hinder my performance.
I make the turn and instantly start the push. .7 miles to go. 3,696 feet of victory. I instantly increase my focus on the "finish line", a single white and orange gas pipe that sticks out of the ground that tells me when I should start my 3 minutes of walking that cools me down before I get to the house. By removing my headphones like a ninja I was able to listen for his heavy feet to be beating into the ground or I knew I would at least hear him panting trying to catch me. Knowing I had already finished 13 miles I decided at every phone pole I would push a bit harder to make up for my inevitable slowing down. As cars would pass I payed close attention to if they shot back over or if they stayed out, informing me that he was hot on my trail. I could not tell one way or another but refused to look back and show my concern. As I approached my "finish line" gas pipe, I knew there was no way that I could let him pass me as I was in my "cool down walk" so I decided to push past my cool down. I came collapsing to a halt 2 houses in front of mine, I slowly turned to see how badly I had destroyed him in my secret race of 2010. Nothing. He had turned off at the intersection and was never behind me at all.
Obviously I scared the crap out of him and he didn't even want to attempt it. I understand.