Tuesday, June 30, 2015

That time I thought I finished last...

As I mentioned in my race report for the Hartwell YMCA Sprint Triathlon, when I checked the preliminary race results that were posted soon after I finished, I thought I had come in Dead Last.

The results list, posted on the table where the awards were located. 

There's my name... at the bottom...
It was the most interesting experience I've had at a race. I thought it deserved some attention of its own so that's why I'm writing this post now!

I'm not sure how clearly it came across in my race report, but I had a great race on Saturday. I felt sure and strong and confident the entire way. The notoriously negative voice in my head was easily tamed and I pushed myself in a smart way since this wasn't my "A" race. I had a significant sprint triathlon PR, though I wasn't sure exactly how big it was until I got home. I was feeling fantastic!

When the race director announced that the results were posted, I hustled over to see if I made the podium. With it being such a small turnout, I figured I had a chance. I walked confidently up to the table.

My name was at the bottom. 36 out of 36. I thought there were 37 on the participants list that I looked at the day before. So that it didn't seem unreasonable.

Dead Last.

My first thought was a saying that is popular in the running community:

"Dead ***** Last is greater than Did Not Finish which is greater than Did Not Start"

But all the while I was thinking that, I felt myself starting to get shaky. I kept looking at the results. Last. But I felt so good! Last? I saw lots of people out there still on the course. Granted, there was an Oly going on at the same time so they could have been doing the longer course. 


I took a few shaky, deep breaths. I walked away from the results table, and headed back to my car. My intention was to go ahead and change clothes so I could make the drive home. 

And that's when it happened. 

Somewhere between the results table and the car, that usually negative voice in my head told me, "What difference does it make?" 

"Huh?" I replied to myself. (Hopefully silently, lest I be known as the last-place triathlete who needs to ask herself to repeat herself! LOL)

"You had the best race experience you've ever had in a triathlon! You beat your previous best time by a lot! You feel great! What difference does it make if you finished last!?"

She/I had a good point! The fact that other people were faster than I am on that particular day did nothing to negate the fantastic job I did personally! When I crossed that finish line I felt strong and happy and positive. The order in which I did so was inconsequential! 

By the time I got to the car, I was texting my family and friends and leting them know that I had the best race ever AND I was dead last! I was "LOLing" and really meaning it! 

AND once I learned that my presence was not immediately required back at home (thanks to my son driving my daughter to work while Daddy had to go in to the office unexpectedly) I decided to stick around for the awards ceremony and watch the folks who did win! I noticed that the overall female finisher was in my age group, so I thought perhaps that would open it up for me to get on the podium after all. Even though I finished last. 

Well, you know how that all ended up, right? 

There I am - #2 in my age group! 
I did end up on the podium and it turned out that I wasn't last after all. But by that point, I was really and truly OK with it anyway. And I don't think I'm going to be nearly as wrapped up in "not wanting to be last" as I have been in the past. Because as long as I am doing the best that I can - not just having the best race ever as in this case, but even if things have gone terribly wrong but I'm doing my best on that day by not giving up - then that's all that matters in the long run! 

Just do what you can and have a good time doing it! :) 

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