Volume 1, Issue 2 - Everyone is a competitor, right?

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Monday August 20, 2018.

As I wrote the entry about the Dust Devil Sprint Triathlon, I worried that I would come across as maybe a bit too, competitive, I guess? I’m not sure if that’s a word that generally has a negative connotation, but it did to me in this case. Part of what I want to convey, but am a bit afraid to, is that when I run or ride or hike or do anything with a physical angle to it, I look at everyone around me as the competition. That’s not to say that I look to crush all opponents in everything I do, but I definitely look to those around me as baselines to either strive toward or leave behind. I am not the type who gets mad when I lose to someone—heck, I mostly only ever do this in fleeting thoughts—but I definitely feel a little bump in confidence when I pass someone or am clearly more capable in what we’re doing than the others around me.

One thing I neglected to mention in the post was the guy at the race who had the head-to-toe tattoos. I don’t have an issue with tattoos at this point. I did some time ago, and am probably driven somewhat by that bias from the past, but this guy was something else. He was a pretty muscular guy, too. He definitely looked the part. When I see guys like that in a race, I immediately mark them as someone to beat. I’m an average-sized quiet person at these things, and when someone draws attention, I really want to beat that guy. So when they announced times and I had handily beaten the guy, I felt pretty good. Along with the guy from the cycling section, he was the competition for me. When I realized that among his tattoos were an iron cross on his neck (a big one, too) and the words “White Pride” down his calves, I stopped being concerned that I had otherized him.

I don’t know if that’s the way he feels now. It could be that he got them at a totally different time in his life and keeping them is his way of remembering never to go back there. Whatever. We didn’t talk, and once I saw them I figured my only option would be to ask him right off about the tattoos. Hearing his story might be interesting. It might just be racist bullshit. I never got the chance, and I’m not overly concerned that I didn’t. What I had done by pitting myself against him before even knowing that little tidbit was something I consider normal. I think most of us do it to some degree. Internally, we’re always thinking things that we wouldn’t say aloud, and I think that’s fine. At least, I hope it is.

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Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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