Are you competitive? Would you label yourself as "aggressive" in terms of going after what you want? Here's the warning for people, our competitive nature may be slowly ... killing us.
Researchers who published a major study in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association say that those who are most competitive are at increased risk for stroke and heart attack than folks who are more laid back.
The details: Italian researchers studied 5,614 Italians and found that those who scored highest for competitiveness on standard personality tests had a greater thickening of the neck arteries, an risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Killing me??!! Yikes! That's harsh.
Thankfully, the article did go on to say that if your competitiveness is mostly geared toward your fitness and athletic competitions, that the competitiveness could in theory, be helpful instead of harmful. The competitiveness gets dangerous when it spills over into friendships, your love life, and everyday tasks. I think I may not die from being too competitive after all.
I have always known that I inherited my Dad's competitive gene. All through grade school, I wanted to have the best grades. In high school, I wanted to be the best softball player on the team....or even the county. I always felt let down if I didn't get chosen for something or didn't win something. And I don't think that competitive tendency has disappeared over the years. It still rears it's head up on occasion.
My competitive nature was in full force this past Saturday night. I entered a unique night time trail run with two of my friends.
The idea of the run was that teams would compete out on the trails in the dark. The event coordinators had hidden 12 books along the trails marked with reflective tape to be seen only in the dark. Runners were to head out onto the trails wearing headlamps and run the trails in search of the hidden books. When a hidden book was found, teams were instructed to tear out the page of the book that corresponded with their team number. We were team #30, so we were to remove page number 30 from each book and bring it back to the finish line at the end.
Some hints to the books' locations were emailed to runners prior to the race and others were sent via text message during the race. Prior to the start of the race, using the clues, we had determined that there was one book hidden on each of the trails that covered the mountain. To collect all 12 books, our team would need to split up to cover all of the miles of the trails in the 3 1/2 hour time limit.
Our basic plan for the race was that I would cover the longer trails alone and my partners would cover some of the shorter, more challenging trails as a pair. In the end, we hoped to find about half of the books each and meet back at the finish line as winners.
Our plan started out great. I headed off on the first trail and within minutes found the first hidden book. I ripped out page #30 and tucked it into my running belt. I texted my team and alerted them that the first book was found. I conquered the second trail, Buckeye Trail, and found book #2 almost as quickly. I jogged on to my third trail, which looped around a wetlands area. I was stumped a bit when looking for this book and ended up looping around the trail three times before finding book #3. I moved on to Sandstone Ridge Trail which had some really steep inclines and grabbed book #4 at the top of the trail.
On my way down this trail heading to my next trail is when I got the alert from my team that they had struggled to find their first book, but had finally located it. We were now up to 5 books as a team. I continued on to a long leg of my trail running and covered the Pipeline Trail, which was almost two miles round trip. Then, Lizard Loop Trail, which was a mile long loop that I ended up running twice because I couldn't find the book the first time. Locating the book on Lizard Loop was insane. The book was hidden well off the trail and I had to cross a running stream to get to it. I ran the rest of the night in shoes and socks saturated with mud, but I was determined to find the book for the team.
After all this trail running is when my competetiveness and determination really took over. I really picked up my running pace and backtracked some of the previous trails to get to a new section of the mountain. There were books hidden on The Crusher Trail and The Ridge and Valley Trail. I looked at the trail map and realized that these were the most challenging trails on the mountain, but I was NOT going to let my team down. I had books to find!
So I headed off on Crusher Trail and found the book fairly easily, despite the changes in elevation and the fact that I somehow ended up off the trail and was lost for a brief period of time. I had now found 6 of the 12 books. I had an hour left to return to the finish line. I had one last trail to conquer....The Ridge and Valley Trail. The trail map describes it like this.....
Ridge and Valley Trail (1.5 miles)
Our most demanding trail, it goes through 1000 feet of elevation change over its length. You will cross several small streambeds as you hike.
About 3/4 of the way through the Ridge and Valley Trail.....I thought I was going to die. I was out of water in my water bottle. My legs were ON FIRE from running the hills. My body was exhausted. I texted Bradley, who was at home with the boys, and told him.....
"I don't know if I will make it off this trail. I haven't seen another human in forever. I don't think I can make it back to the finish line. And I think I may even be lost or something. This trail is sooo long."
But just as I was about to throw in the towel....I saw the faint glow of another person's headlamp. The person ended up being the event photographer. He snapped this picture of me as I was climbing yet another "Ridge" on the trail.
He had a thick Indian accent as he shouted...
"Hello, runner! Are you OK runner? I haven't seen any other peoples on this trail, runner. I am take your picture, then I leave this trail. Are you feel OK runner? Yay, runner."
I have never been so happy to see another human as I was to see Suman the Indian at that moment. He let me know that I wasn't lost in the the woods after all. And I knew that I might make it to the book, get the page out, and get back to the finish line alive.
I continued running and finally got to the end where the most glorious book awaited me. I cheerfully took the page and put it into my running belt. I was more than elated to get to the end of the Ridge and Valley Trail to see that there was an alternative trail back to the finish line. I think that if someone had told me that I would have to retrace my steps and run Ridge and Valley again, that I may have died right there on the spot.
I made it back to the finish line and my team mates arrived shortly after with the books they had found. My legs were shaking like jello. I was thirsty and hungry and exhausted, but I had had probably my best run ever.
I ended up covering close to 10 miles of trails in the dark and collected 7 of our team's 10 book pages. Our collection of 10 hidden book pages was enough to win our team a 3rd place.
For the past 3 days since the race, I have taken Ibuprofen every 4 hours to help with my aching muscles. My legs have hurt so bad that I could barely walk. I have never, ever been so sore from any exercise.
What did we get for this punishment to our bodies???
I know you are jealous.
And bragging rights for completing the race.
Was it worth it?
I don't know.
I'll let you know the answer to that when I am finally able to walk normally again without Ibuprofen.