On Saturday, I did the thing I’ve been telling myself it was time to do. I finally ran my first official (timed, registration fee) 5k race since having, no, since getting pregnant with the girls. Do the math. That’s 2 years plus 5 or 6 weeks. Yuck, right? Well, it taught me a vital lesson about finishing last and yet keeping my head up.
You see, I entered a low entry race in the small town down the river from my house. This was a duathlon, with most of the entrants doing the bike portion, too. Out of less than fifty competitors, I came in last.
It gave me a new appreciation for the runners who bring up the back of the pack. The runners who have to run knowing an ambulance is on their tail, waiting to sweep them if the timing gets too slow. Watching the lights reflect off the street signs as the pack ran away from me further and further down the street, tears came to my eyes. The people who finish last are some of the strongest mentally, because they don’t give up or give in.
At the .75 mark, I peered at my running app, my time was awesome, around my 2014 Relay pace, but I knew I couldn’t carry this weight at that pace for another 2.25 miles. My fellow racers (not my competition), were FAST!
I repeated words of the Runner’s Prayer that was read before the event as I finished that next mile, hoping I’d see Greg and the twins to give me that next boost of strength I needed – those lights seemed to be getting closer!
Lord, Let me win. Not by coming in ahead of my friends, but by beating myself. Let it be an inner win. A battle won over me. And may I say at the end, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”
This was truly a battle over me, and my spirit was high. I was enjoying the scenes around me – old mills along the rails to trails. I was ready to run, but not mentally prepared with being last.
Finally, near the midway point, Greg came down the trail to me. We talked, which kept me slower than I’d hoped at that point, but it gave me what I needed – the pride in why I run. I moved on, and knew the back portion of the trail and road, all in the sun would be tough.
But that wasn’t the hardest part. No, that was crossing the finish line last. Crying as all those who’d finished before me clapped for the big girl who actually did it, crossed that line. I felt embarrassed, but proud. I did something I’d set my mind to and in a better time than the first time I’d tried. Was that not enough?
Those who run and have never experienced finishing last, it’s a pretty intense thing. Humbled, proud, emotional. It’s not for the weak, that’s for sure. And I won that day, in both the battle over myself and the additional pounds I can’t seem to drop as well as in my age division for females. It was a pretty proud moment, finishing last.