-Paul Tergat, Kenyan professional marathoner
The first race I ever participated in was with my oldest sister, Mere, on the East Side of Cleveland. It was a 5K race and I was terrified. I was more terrified of letting my sister see me stop and not finish the race than I was of anything else. I also hated, and still do, the feeling of losing confidence in myself. Mere never told me to do anything outside of what I was capable of doing so I trusted that if she brought me there, she knew I could get it done. I just wasn’t always aware of what I was capable of. I live by Mere Philosophy, and you will probably read many stories about the life lessons she has taught me and continues to teach me. Mere told me two things that day that I remember quite well. The first is that you should never say “I did everything I could do” because the truth is, you can always do more. The second thing she told me was right before I started the race. She said something like; look at the person in front of you. Concentrate on that person. When you beat that person, concentrate on the next person in front of you. Pick that person and beat them. Mere is a complex person who makes simple statements. That’s all I needed to do. I needed to start running and not stop and quicken my stride to beat the opponent. I can still picture what the street looked like with trees bending over on each side, guiding our path. The first girl I chose was wearing a tie-dye t-shirt and was around my age. I ran at an even pace until I caught up with her and I ran beside her for awhile. When I started to feel myself pushing her behind me, nothing else mattered in the world. Things like time and distance didn’t matter anymore. It was after I beat that first person that I fell in love with the feeling of coming up ahead of the opponent.
Competition isn’t a bad thing. If you want to win, then you have to run harder and faster than the next person. People may be smarter than you, faster than you- but don’t ever let anyone outwork you. That is one thing they can never beat you on in anything that you do.