Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sibling Rivalry



My younger sister Michele and I are 16 months apart. Growing up, she was the skinny athletic one and I was the chubby nerd. Michele played sports, could do cartwheels, and wore a size 0 all through high school. I ate hot dogs, read books, and tried to squeeze myself into too small juniors size clothes. For all my growing up years, my own self worth was centered around comparing myself to my younger, more beautiul sister. Ah, the torture of being a young girl . . .

When I started running, first for exercise during college and then to feed my newfound addiction to road races in 2004, I also started to change the way I measured my own value. It has been a long journey, but I now can celebrate the body that has run MANY races (including 3 marathons), given birth to a healthy, beautiful little girl, and so much more.

Besides giving me a new, more confident outlook, what I loved about running was that i was MY thing. No one else in my family, including Michele, ran road races. I loved doing something that was all my own. And then Michele started running. For other sisters, this would probably be great news - one more running partner! For Michele and I, it has been a source of unspoken tension.

When we have run races together, I get so focused on where Michele is and whether she is beating me that I forget to run my own race. I compare my finish time to hers and feel like a failure if I am not as fast, even if I PR. I know the scorecard: my 5K and marathon PR's are faster, she's got me beat in the 10K and half-marathon.

I have been working on moving past this. Partly because my mom told me to suck it up and get over myself, and partly because my running partner Jim has constantly reminde me that I run for ME. This weekend, I'll get a chance to put it into practice. Both Michele and I are running the half in Madison. Instead of worrying whether I'm in front of or behind my sister, I am going to concentate on powering up hills, staying strong, and celebrating one more opportunity to participate in the sport I have come to love. Run my own race.

21 comments:

RunMommyRun said...

Love this post. I think we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others when we shouldn't. Have a wonderful Madison experience!

Jill said...

When I ran the Big Sur Marathon two years ago, I ran with a gf who is a fabulous runner...and though I totally (and I mean TOTALLY) know better, I constantly judged myself against her fabulous athletic abilities. It came back to bite me big time. RUN YOUR OWN RACE for sure!! And have a blast doing it!! I'll be here cheering you on from Denver...go Heather GOOO!

MCM Mama said...

I'm horrible about comparing myself, although in my case it's usually to friends.

When do you get in to town and how long are you staying? Email me at mom2shoo at gmail.com if you are going to be around longer than just late Friday night-after the race...

Shelby said...

As someone who has an older sister who is much like your younger sister, I have to tell you..letting go feels so good :)

You will do great on the race, no matter what! Who cares where she's at!? :) (Easier said than done, I know!) Good luck.

the dawn said...

thus far, my brother has only threatened to take up running seriously...so he hasn't stolen my thunder yet. i'm sure i'll do exactly the same as you if he ever does. so if you figure out the magic formula for overcoming this you'll need to share :)

Anne said...

Great post...thanks so much for sharing! Rock that half and, indeed, run your own race :)

onelittletrigirl said...

I totally get where you are coming from with the "my own" thing because in my group of friends (pre-teammates) I was the only one doing this running/triathlon thing. A good friend of mine (who happens to be named Michele) decided to take it up as well and has been winning AG awards left and right. She is awesome and I am happy and proud of her, but I constantly feel in her shadow. And then I feel ridiculous for feeling that way.

Thank you for the honest post!

Marlene said...

Be yourself, love yourself and run for yourself! Havea great race, girl!

Andrew Opala said...

Comparing is a way we get better.

What's important is to use the judgement we have to weigh the truth properly and act on it.

Don't compare on silly things, but the things that can give you the drive to improve. But then judge yourself on the improvement compared to the old you, and not to the original subject of comparison.

P.S. I don't read your sister's blog.

DRog said...

Definitely ENJOY your upcoming Madison Half, use good form, enjoy being out there...look at what you can do!

Katie A. said...

I can totally relate to this. It's hard not to compare yourself or get competative with those around you - especially when they are family!

You will do great this weekend! You have the ability to run your own race WELL! Good luck!!

Diana said...

This is a touchy post for me...only because it flairs up a situation between my sister and I. She was very heavy and started to lose weight. When she got to near what I weighed (and that was huge), I couldn't let her be less than me because that's the only reason my weight was justified in my mind. Since I was smaller than my Mom and sister, well then I was okay!
I continued on with my journey and I'm in a good spot-she started to gain weight back and was all jealous. Bottom line to all this ranting on......we haven't talked in almost 3 years. That's truly sad. Don't let trying to impress others get in the way-only impress yourself and try to inspire others!
Sorry to drag on......
Good luck in Madison!!!

Tricia said...

enjoy your race!

Julie said...

Good luck this weekend Heather! Have a good time and just run for you:) Remember to take it all in and try to have fun:)

I am going to try to do this one next year. My hubby had a golf trip planned for this weekend:(

joyRuN said...

I don't have sister, but constantly critique myself against other female runners - at work, in the neighborhood, in the blogosphere, wherever else there are other chicks.

It gives me the drive to keep working hard when training, but day of the race, I focus on me.

You'll be GREAT!

Jess said...

A little rivalry isn't a bad thing: It probably motivates you to push past your comfort zone and try to push your own limits of performance.

But certainly, too much rivalry can strain a relationship and demean the accomplishments that you've achieved if you only measure them alongside hers.

As long as it's more of the former and less of the latter, it's all good. Yo.

And that pick of the two of you is CLASSIC MN!

Tish said...

Have a great race. I'm rooting for YOU (and not your sis!). Being grown ups doesn't always mean that those rivalry feelings disappear, but they'll start to lessen for sure. (In the picture you could be twins, sizewise too)

LMC said...

I have much respect for you because you know what's in your head and heart and are honest about it all. That's not as common as one might think. Keep in mind, running IS YOUR thing! You got to it and you stay with it all on your own! Stay strong. You'll be great!!

Beth said...

Good luck this weekend with all of your goals. I find that I don't feel competitive with friends I've met through running, like the run club, but I do feel competitive with social friends and family members. I don't have a sister, but I can empathize with the competitiveness that it brings. I hope you have a great race!

wendy_kresha@charter.net said...

Good luck on your race this weekend! You are going to rock : )

You are so lucky to have a sister! I have only brothers, but with 4 girls, I tell them that all of the time. They don't always appreciate it, lol!

Take care!

Jeri said...

Have a great race! nothing wrong w/a little competitiveness.....let it fuel you, but not consume you. Go get em! PR lady. :)