I am very competitive by nature. Growing up with a brother who was not only four years older but also a gifted athlete and sometimes overzealous competitor, I almost wholly suppressed my competitiveness throughout childhood. As I got older, however, especially once I reached college, I was often told how competitive I was.

This trait shows up in a humorous way when I am at the gym. I can’t stand it when someone on a treadmill, exercise bike or machine near me does more or better work than I do. Yesterday I was riding the exercise bike and a woman got on the bike next to me. I was riding with a very specific goal in mind. I had already run 5k and done other exercises and I was on the bike to ride for 45 minutes at a gentle pace in order to keep my heart rate about 130 and burn calories. So basically I was on the bike to ride slow and steady.

The woman was doing a “hills” cardio routine and was cranking her bike at about 92 rpm. It irritated me that she was gaining on me in distance and calories burned despite the fact that I had been riding five minutes longer than she had. So ignoring my purpose for being on the bike, I cranked up the resistance, pedaled faster and took the lead. My heart rate jumped into the cardio range.

Once I had taken a good lead, I turned the resistance back down and got back to where I wanted to be, heart rate wise. She caught up and overtook me. I resisted the impulse to go faster.

Then as I was about to speed up in order to take back the lead, I noticed that her hills routine was coming to an end. She was only riding for thirty minutes. I’d already ridden thirty-five and had ten more minutes to go. I rode further and longer, if not faster, and therefore I won.

Outlasting the competition is one way to win. Our mitochondrial Eve is the ultimate example of outlasting the competition. Well, her mitochondria are! Thanks to Mr Burden for the link to this article which talks about a possible new human species discovered in Siberia and in so doing discusses mitochondrial Eve: article.

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