I’m a big believer in finiteness. In fact, I find the whole concept of “infinity” infinitely boring. How can there be boundless, unlimited supply of something…of anything? It’s unnatural. The Tea Partiers tell me it’s un-American too. For every person or thing that “has”, there must be an equal and opposite person or thing that “has not” in order to keep the universe in balance. Since their shirts are more star-spangled than mine – spangled stars aren’t moisture wicking – I have to believe it’s true.*
I guess this applies to CONFIDENCE as well.
We all know how important it is to arrive at the starting line on race day with full blown Confidentitis. Very rarely can you turn a pre-race “oh, God, I just hope I don’t shit myself” shoulder slumped case of the jitters into a PR. It can be done but then you’d be the exception that proves the rule. It’s better to stare down the first 100 meters of the race course with the eye of the tiger** You’ve done the work. You’ve finally beaten Apollo in the ocean front trail race. Paulie has been playfully dunked in the pool. It’s time to ace the test. Bring it!
That type of confidence would be A-MAAZING to have come race day. But it’s not realistic.
Usually, I’m somewhere between mildly pessimistic and mildly optimistic. My confidence is never extremely low but also rarely very high. This is why most people think I’m obtuse, which I assume means something similar to “pragmatic”. There’s a simmering, modestly-filled bowl of confidence within but I’m not jumping up and down whooping it up and telling everyone how “I’m about to make them my bitches” as soon as the gun sounds. (We’ve all seen that right?)
Assuming there is only a certain number of units of Confidence available at the start line amongst the group; I need to steal some of yours if I want that PR. I arrive early to top off my bowl.
If I overhear you nervously chatting with a friend about how scared you are about your first race, I make a point to sidle on up next to you and whisper, “You are under trained. You’re going to struggle today.”
If you happen to look like you are in worse shape than me, I smile and say “thanks for volunteering! It’s people like you that make these races possible for runners like me!”
Fiddling with your Garmin? I might come up and ask if it really matters. Really? (elevator eyes up and down) Does it?
I love to ask about others’ PR’s and, when they tell me, smile condescendingly and reply “oh, it sounds like running is not really your thing then? Are you good at volleyball?”
Aren’t wearing a shirt or, if female, have a tank top on? I’ll innocently ask if “they are part of a weight-loss group activity.”
I can just feel my bowl of Confidence filling at the expense of yours. It’s like in Spiderman 2 when Doc Ock uses his reactor and all the metal in New York starts sucking into his waterfront lab. I get more powerful as you weaken. I’m sucking in your Confidence like a fatty at a Jell-o bar armed with only a straw.
If I can acquire enough Confidence, when the gun sounds, I’m off to a jack-rabbit start. The sight of your Confidence being carried off with me further depletes your reserves.
They say “a rising tide lifts all boats” but that’s really not true in the Confidence game. It’s finite. It can be bought and sold. It can be stolen. The truth is that “a rising tide lifts some boats, but others will run aground.”*** It’s more like a teeter-totter. In order for me to succeed, others must fail.
Next time you arrive at a start line, beware of a Con Man like me working the crowd, slurping up your PR with a gurgle through a straw. Think your shorts make you look fat? They do, I hiss. Not sure if today’s your day? It isn’t. Wonder what kind of beer awaits at the finish? It’s Blatz.
Consider this fair warning. Race day CONFIDENCE is key to your success. There are Con Men out there looking to steal it. Heck, they might even be inside your own head. (Your subconscious is the biggest offender after all.) When a Con Man approaches as you loosen at the start line, tell ‘em to take a hike. You feel great; you look great; you will BE great. They’ll wander off to work the crowd for their next victim.
Fall prey and, well, you’ll be infinitely sad.
*Ever run a marathon with an ankle holster? The only thing that soothes the chafe is the freedom dancing in my heart.
**Or tiger blood in the veins? Dammt, I don’t know where to go with this “tiger” metaphor now.
I’m happy to see that there aren’t many Filthy Hippies out there based on the latest poll results. Or, as commenter Jess observes, maybe they are all just 'too stoned to take the poll'? Could be.