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Why Women Over 40 Shouldn’t Go-Kart Race

I must admit, I am competitive.
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Don’t challenge me to a game of Scrabble and think I won’t pull out the word “xenial” to garner a triple word score and then gloat. Although I am not wholly athletic, that doesn’t mean I am not going to pull out all the stops just to beat my competition mercilessly, if at all possible.  And while I try to maintain an air of decorum with my opponent, I have been known to break out a Deion Sanders-like touchdown dance when I win, even if it is just checkers.

I guess this competitive streak is what lead me to believe that I could go-kart race and just burn up the track, even though I haven’t been in a go-kart in many years.  Some friends from work all went one evening to an indoor race track, where the cars reach top speeds of 45 miles per hour.  No sweat, I thought, especially since I learned to drive on the freeways of San Diego, and I used to change my clothes while driving.  How difficult could it be to whip around a track in a little motorized version of a real car?

Our racing group consisted of three guys and three girls, of which I was the oldest by ten years.  I figured I had experience, competitiveness, and a sense of adventure on my side; instead I should have called my insurance agent.  All was well the first race, which consisted of fourteen laps.  We all started to feel the groove of the track and the rush of adrenalin.  By race two, the contest was heating up, and the trash talk between the guys began to increase, and I could feel the contender in me rise up.  I felt it–“the need for speed”.  With races one and two under our collective belts and only a few injury free collisions thus far, we geared up for our final race.

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All started off well, and I was gunning it to better my lap score.  I took the turns as sharply as I could, and thought this would be my best race yet.  I was wrong.  As I rounded a turn, I went all “Tokyo drift” and slid decidedly into the red and white barrier (pictured above).  My car went under the barrier, lifted it up, and pinned me in the go-kart.  As the track personnel ran over to free me from my predicament, I watched the blood trickle down my hands, and I tried to put on a brave face.  My entire right arm was locked in the barrier, which had to be lifted off of me by the track workers.  Damn!  So much for my best time…

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Diana, another racer from my group, also had a mishap and hit a wall.  Defective cars, I thought to myself.  Racer exhaustion, I pondered internally.  Certainly it had nothing to do with my racing skill, or lack thereof…

While my body was certainly banged up and my right hand, with all its cuts and scratches, looked like I had gotten into a bar fight, it was my ego that was the most bruised.  I wanted to keep up with the boys and had epically failed.  Visions of losing countless childhood contests of skill, athleticism, and might to my older brother came crashing back, much like the wall that landed on my arm.  But then I thought, I gave it a shot and really had fun doing something I normally wouldn’t do, so that can’t be an epic fail.  The more I thought about it, the better I felt about the whole situation, soreness and all.  So I crashed into a wall–at least I made the effort, and that is how I want to live my life.  Now on to cliff diving…


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