Monday, October 26, 2015

The Girl Who Came in Last

DLF, ever see that acronym before? No, seriously it is a thing, it means Dead Last Finish. I don't think I have ever heard of it before, or if I did, I simply forgot about it.

My friend and I were talking about what it feels like to come in last place at a race, especially when you know you are last from the start. I can say so many things about the feeling of coming in last place, after all, it has "happened to me" a handful of times during this short athletic life of mine.

Let's first reflect on one of the 'greats' who came in last place...

Remember this guy?  He was the amazing dude who kept going for 17 hours, just to cross the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in 2013. He was determined, and simply kept going... I heard he has finished other marathons over the years, which is amazing to me, because at what point do you give up?

Today, I was talking to a colleague about the 5 mile race this weekend, in which I tied for last place with my bestest buddy. During this discussion we started talking about the difference between a 5k and a 5 miler. This conversation came up because I was telling her that the race director for the race I did this weekend were debating turning the 5 miler into a 5k. His reason for such a switch? To make it more accessible... Basically 5k is easier for people to wrap their heads around, and so larger crowds will show up to the start line of a 5k. My colleague and I pondered this for awhile...

Anyway, let me tell you a story about a girl. This girl was determined, she was determined to do some triathlons, ride a bike like she did when she was a kid (meaning for hours on end without even realizing she was exercising), she wanted to be 5k ready at any given time, and so this girl began her journey. Her first big roadblock was a metric century ride that she did with her cousin. Because of some bicycle debacle, and because she was just not used to these types of events, and because she was out to have fun, and because she is slow, she was the last of the riders to finish the metric century.

A couple years later, this girl decided to do a half ironman. During the training, it never occurred to her that she might be the last person to cross the finish line, yet she obsessed about being the person who wouldn't cross the finish line. Race day came, and while she was on the run, the course rider kept coming up behind her telling her that there were 5 people behind her. Suddenly a couple people passed her, then there were 3 people behind her, and then another person passed her. The next, and final time the guy rode by, he told her that there were two people behind her... yet no one else passed her. She was the last person to finish, what happened to the other two? They didn't cross the finish line.

Fast forward two years, and this same girl thought her running life had ended. She was so fatigued and tired all the time, plus it was so damn hot outside, and she just wanted to give up. Then that determination kicked in. She remembered her half ironman, and her bike ride, and her marathon, and her ten half marathons, and she started to consistently run again. She wasn't fast, but knew that she wanted to get faster, especially if it was going to help her running buddy. She new that, even though she had run significant races in the past, a five miler was going to be hard on her. She new that five miles is a huge difference than 3.2 mile, but she knew if she kept her head up she could do it.

She showed up to the race, ran that race, struggled through that race and crossed the finish line tied her best friend for LAST PLACE! I'm not going to lie, she thought it sucked that she was in last place. I'm also not going to lie, she felt extremely blessed to have had the journey with her friend and immensely proud that she crossed the finish line.

So, next time you are faced with last place, remember there are people with no place!!! Then go and eat some donuts to celebrate...

A Nike commercial that says it all...

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