All my life I’ve strived to be #1 at something. It hasn’t really happened yet, although my kids might tell you that I’m their #1 mom, my husband might say I’m his #1 wife, and my parents might say I’m their number one daughter – but I won those by default so… they don’t really count.
Since having my life engulfed by chronic pain, I’ve had several epiphanies and my latest is that I’ve been going about things all wrong.
There’s no need to struggle for an elusive spot on the winner’s podium because LAST PLACE is actually preferable. Click To Tweet
So how did I get here?
This year I took on the Vancouver Island Trail Running Series. I wasn’t ready for it. I hadn’t been training, plus my health has been less than perfect. And guess what the defining feature of these races is? HILLS.
LOTS OF HILLS. And not little hills either. Three of the races actually have the word ‘mount’ in their names, and another is named after the bay where you start at the base of a mountain.
Let’s just say these races are tough!
So why did I do it?
And why on earth did I choose this year of all years? The short answer is because a friend asked me if I was interested in doing it. YUP that’s the main reason. I’d been wanting someone to do it with for a few years – and there she was. So despite knowing that I wasn’t ready, I signed up.
The long answer can be found here.
So, I managed to set myself up to be in a position where I found myself at the back of the race. I’ve run lots of races before, and I’m not fast but I’ve always been sort of middle of the pack. So this was a new experience for me.
An experience I wrestled with at first.
Today’s race was at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island – for those of you who don’t know, Mount Washington is an alpine ski resort! The race was approximately 8 km (about 5 miles) with about 515 m of elevation gain (that’s 1689 ft for you non-metric types). And let me tell you that there were some REALLY STEEP sections – like mountain goats would struggle steep.
Just so you know, there are people who run most of it or maybe all of it – I’m not fast enough to actually witness what they do.
But, I’m certainly not one of them.
So, my running buddy and I were at times ahead of maybe five people, but I think in the end we beat two.
WHY AM I CELEBRATING?
Because, I got off the couch, told my chronic pain to shut-up, and conquered a mountain!! So what if I was almost last?
WHY BEING LAST (OR ALMOST LAST) IS PREFERABLEBecause, I got off the couch, told my chronic pain to shut-up, and conquered a mountain!! So what if I was almost last? Click To Tweet
- You can enjoy the views. On this race, they were stunning. I even took some pictures. It wasn’t like I was going to get passed while taking them.
Last is still a finish.
- You still beat every single one of the people who didn’t show up at the starting line.
More time for your family/friends/supporters to get organised and arrive at the finish line to cheer you on.
- Yes, my husband missed me crossing the finish line of my first half marathon. He says, in his defense, that I was much faster than anticipated, and he was wrangling our twins who were pretty young. Sigh, I do have to admit that he was there within the time frame I gave him – that was back in the days before I realized that last is best.
- You’ll also get more people to come out because they won’t have to get up quite as early. In some races they could get hours more sleep.
Can only go up from here.
- Yes, the pun was intended.
More people to cheer you across the finish line.
- All the gazelles are done and snacking on the post-race goodies.
- This works even better if you’re last in a shorter race that’s imbedded in a longer race.
- When you aren’t running flat out, you have the breath to chat. Okay, maybe you don’t have the breath to chat because this is hard work, but the people at the back are really friendly and will gasp out words of encouragement and even some jokes.
- It’s like going for an outing with your closest strangers.
- And there’s nothing like a little misery to bring people closer together.
You can take in the ‘running fashions.’
- Everybody is in front of you, so you can study which tights or shorts look best on which body types.
- You can read the cute/funny quotes on the back of everyone’s shirts.
- If someone wipes out, you’ll get to witness it (okay, I do recognize that’s terrible!)
Good for your self-esteem.
- Getting passed is hard on your self-esteem, especially if it’s someone who seems older, more out of shape, or more pregnant than you. Nobody is passing you when you’re at the back.
- Important to this benefit is to start at the back – plus isn’t going out to fast one of the things ‘they’ say to avoid?
No getting lost.
- You’re behind everyone else – just follow them.
- The fast guys at the front have the added stress of navigating – who needs that?
On a more serious note, nobody wants to be last – especially me – and somebody always has to be.
I’ll admit I have a competitive side.
The thing is, I’m not an elite athlete, and I’m pretty sure I’m on the wrong side of 40 to ever become one, so the competition is with my myself. I WIN if I beat the pain and get out the door, no matter how many people cross the line ahead of me and no matter how few come after.
Because at the end of the day, walking no matter how slow, is still moving forward. And my GOAL, at its very heart, is to keep moving forward.
Get out and conquer life.Dare to be last. Click To Tweet
This all being said – next year I’m going to train.
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