In general I would not describe myself as competitive. I don’t go looking for ways to prove myself. I won’t initiate a contest to see who is better, but when egged on enough, I have been known to finish them.
If you haven’t read about it in our blog or heard about it directly from us, Koreans are extremely competitive. And this comes to a head when BreeAnn and I go out for leisurely runs on the track. We like to count exactly how many people are running on the track before we begin. Usually the number is 0. Sometimes it might even be 1. I have no idea what is going on in their head, but if i could guess it would be something like, “I can’t believe those foreigners passed me while I was walking. I bet if I started running now, I could pass them and really show them what’s up.” Or something like, “Jogging? For exercise?! What a newfangled idea! I shall have a try at it then.”
Many times we are running between 20 and 40 minutes at a time. We try to run consistently so we don’t have to walk. And I would say at least once every time we step foot on the track a person who was walking and is in no way dressed to run, will start running, pass us for about 10 seconds and then quit. As if they had just proven that they are faster.
I’m sure I’m blowing this way out of proportion and making this a way bigger deal than it is, but that’s how it feels to me. So last week, when a young gentleman who wasn’t running when we had gotten there, passed us and kept running for another half lap and stopped, I thought, “You know, if he tries to pull that again, there’s no way I’m going to let him pass me.” Sure enough we were about 19 minutes into our 20 minute run, we passed him while he was walking, and out of the corner of my eye I saw him take off. I made eye-contact with BreeAnn and in that moment our minds connected and I telepathically told her, “I’m not gonna get beat again.” And as I expected, as I picked up my pace he began to run faster. We had about 200 meters to the finish line and I wasn’t about to slow down. Around the curve I could sense that he was drawing near to me. Weaving in and out of children and elderly walkers I kicked even harder as I passed the grandstand of bystanders. And by the time I crossed the finish line, he had stopped running.
Will we keep running at the track? Yeah. Will we get passed multiple times? Sure. But today, I had my moment.