Let's call him Logan.
I've known Logan for five years. Met him on a bike ride in 2002 and have since been cycling with him more times than I can count. We've challenged each other on the road, pushing, pulling, sprinting until the little blue veins in our foreheads nearly explode. We've been out to group dinners together, have met each other's girlfriends and even shared a few morning conversations over a nice, warm cup of coffee.
Here's the catch: I don't like Logan. Never have.
I have absolutely no reason for despising the man. I've enjoyed the time we've spent together. He's a nice enough fellow. Fairly harmless and pretty friendly, he always says hello with a smile. Sure he's got a bit of an ego and likes to be the star of the show, but as my buddy John once said as he ducked for cover, Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
The truth of the matter is that Logan is my triathlon nemesis. I'm not quite sure why, but these things don't always have a reason. All I know is that from the moment I met the guy I've been focused on beating him. My goal in sports is simple, whatever I do I need to do it better than Logan. When I see him cycling on the road, I can feel the adrenaline begin to course through my veins. I push forward to get in front. I churn with all my power to break him down; to make him admit that he can't keep up with my breakneck pace. Say Uncle! I scream inside with an intense competitive anger. SAY UNCLE! SAY IT! SAAAAYYY IITTTTT!!!!
But Logan is strong. He's not the type of person that gives up easily. From what I can gather, he doesn't seem to be the type of person that gives up at all. Present him with a challenge and he pushes forward. That's what has made him such a darn good athlete - and that's precisely why I despise him.
Logan is repeatedly a sub-11 hour Ironman racer. He finishes 70.3 races in 5 hours or less. He kicks my ass at every distance. If I drove the marathon course of an Ironman race - swim, bike, drive - he'd still beat me. That's how far ahead he is.
There is no chance in hell that I'll ever beat Logan in a race anytime in the near future. If he collapses and falls into a coma before finishing, he'd still have time to de-vegetable-ize himself, have a CAT scan, go through speech therapy, pay his medical bills and crawl on all fours across the finish line before I even come within sight of the darn thing. But this doesn't stop me, I still want to beat the guy. Just once, I want to win.
Every year I seem to get faster. My speeds improve and my race performance enhances. I'm still getting PRs and still feeling excited about it. I'll cross a finish line and immediately look down at the time on my watch. I scream with joy seeing that I beat my last year's time. I raise my head to the sky, point to the stars in my best Barry Bonds meets Tiger Woods impression, and scream my head off in a Howard Dean frenzy. I got you this time you fucker! I'll say in a cacophonous roar. THIS time, you're going down.
Later on I may glance through race results to see how Logan did - to make sure that my increased speed was just enough to leave him sucking my dust in a similar race. But alas, with each 10 seconds I improve, he's gone 1 minute faster.
I should probably admit that he's a better racer than I. But I won't. You might say I'm stubborn. Even hard-headed. I like to think of it as focused and determined. My glass is half-full, thank you very much. And if you can just step the hell out of my way, I'd like to take a drink from the darn thing. I'm feeling a bit parched.
It has now been years that I've been trying to beat Logan. With those years, my feelings have morphed into something short of insanity. I no longer want to just come in ahead of him, I want him to suffer. I want him to admit that I'm a better racer. That I am a better human being. I want him to quit.
Here's the catch of it all - the dude doesn't even know my name. He has no clue that I consider him my rival, no reason to even think that despising him is my fuel to move forward. I am nothing to Logan; a mere face on a bike ride so easily forgotten.
This is the funny thing about sports rivals, it's all so personal. Rivalry is often driven by no rational thought process other than a need to find a bad guy. After all, there would be no superheroes to save us without villains to conquer. We all need villains in our lives, if for nothing else than to make us feel like saints.
Logan is my villain. I'm the superhero.
Let's not forget that.
I'm determined to beat my villain this year. And if I don't get him this year, I will get him the next. I'll train harder and stronger and push myself faster. If he keeps moving away, I'll keep going. Because eventually he'll have to stop. Eventually it has got to end.
Maybe his knees will give out before mine, maybe his desire will wane. If I don't beat him in this decade or the next, I will still be there chasing. And perhaps one day down the road while we're piddling along in the 90-94 year old age group, I'll edge his sorry wrinkled ass out on the line at some remote race that nobody cares about. And if I have a heart attack and fall dead to the ground right there right then on the other side of that finish line, I'll die a happy man. Because even if it takes me another 40 years, eventually Logan's run will end. And then I'll know that the superheroes have won.
November 28, 2007
Let's call him Logan.
Posted by j. at 5:31 AM