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Ride Your Own Race

Thoughts on focusing on your efforts not the efforts of others.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve had the privilege of peering into the wild world of motocross. Not as a rider mind you, although I did get to learn to ride a mini-bike a couple of weeks ago and didn’t even bust my bodaciousness…yet. But instead, it’s from going and watching my guy.  And whenever I do go and watch him ride or race, I’m there as cheerleader/photographer/bartender/day-drinker.

And lord is it FUN! Am I right vodka sister?

I realized recently, however, how he’s tainted my perception of the sport. From the very first time I watched him race, all the way up until now, the same thing happens—he wins. I’m not trying to be a braggart and I certainly would never want to embarrass him but he always makes it look so effortless. Now before you accuse me of just writing a puff piece to stroke my boyfriend’s ego, it’s really not about that. So, suppress your gag reflex and keep reading.

With moto tracks I’ve learned you can typically only get a good view of pieces of the track. It’s rare to be able to see the whole thing from one vantage point. Several months ago we were at a track just like that. I could only see a piece of it. As I anxiously waited, I watched as he came into my view while making a sharp turn on the deep, slick dirt, then pointing downward on a gnarly hill. A hill that I seriously doubt I would even be able to walk down.

(And yes, by the way, words like “gnarly” have entered my vernacular over the course of the past year along with berms, two-stroke, four-stroke, holeshot, and “Curse you, Ryan Dungy.”)

That’s when it happened. I saw him fall for the first time.

After he fell, all of a sudden, I realized my own hubris in assuming he was impenetrable to getting injured. I mean I knew it had to have happened at some point because I get up close and personal with the scars. But this? This scared the shit out of me. All this time, I had never seen him fall.

He’s been riding motorcycles since before he was born. #TrueStory. And anyone who knows him will tell you, he’s good. Really good. But throughout the day there was this one pesky-ass guy, whom I continually wished bad juju upon, that stayed out in front of him for most of all the motos. Something else I wasn’t acclimated to seeing.

As he came back to where we were all set up with folding chairs, ice-cold beer, and lime salt, he talked about the race with his friends and he said something that really stuck with me. He was incredibly frustrated by his performance but then he said, “I’ve got to start riding my own race.”

What? What the hell does that mean? I thought.

Recently, I asked him about it. And his answer was a beautiful thing.

In a nutshell, this is what he said.

You can’t concentrate on the guy in front of you or even the guy behind you. The only place your focus needs to remain is on yourself and your own actions. Because he explained, you don’t have control over anything else. Only yourself.

God bless light bulb moments.

How many times in the course of a day do we compare ourselves with others? Or try to control situations or people that we have zero control over.

Recently, my daughter was being hard on herself, albeit jokingly, because celebutante Kylie Jenner is raking in millions from her businesses already at the ripe old age of 19. My daughter compared herself and joked about how she was already behind in the race.

But she’s not behind in anything. She’s not in a race with Kylie Jenner, she’s only in a race with herself. And she’s exactly where she needs to be. She has the opportunity to set her own pace and do her own things. The only life she needs to focus on is the only life she has control over, her own.

I think for the longest part of my life I made the mistake of focusing on all the wrong things. I sized my worth up only by what others were doing or even their opinions of me. Was I doing as good as them? Did I have what they had? Was I better? Worse? Behind? Losing? Winning?

What a farce.

I’ve learned while spending my days in the dirt, that sometimes you do get a bad start and it can leave you feeling “behind.” I’ve seen my bf get a bad start in his races before but then inevitably I’ve watched as he keeps his cool and his concentration and with every loop around, he’s meticulously advanced past the other riders. I’m not gonna lie, it’s kind of hot.

I think it’s that way in life too. You keep your cool, focus only on what you can control, and you ride your own damn race.

H/t to Christina for the sweet message. You are appreciated.

And thank you to all the people I’ve met over the last year and a half at the tracks. What an amazing group of people you are. I’m blessed to have met you and look forward to many more.

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