Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dead Last on the First

Rachelle and I regularly race on major holidays. With the exception of Christmas, there isn't a holiday that isn't suited for racing. Over the past 3 years, I've raced on Memorial Day, July 4th, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Sure, it's easy to stay home, watch sports, have a couple beers, and eat large portions of food. But if I'm going to change my lifestyle to allow the change in health and weight I want, these are the kinds of days I need to limit.

Yesterday being New Years Day, we participated in the Lowell 1st Run. It's the first edition of what they're looking to make an annual event. They had 5k and 10k race options. We competed in the 10k distance. It was a well organized event with custom bib numbers, great finishers medals, a challenging course, and they even gave away "heat sheets" (they look like giant pieces of aluminum foil) to keep runners warm after the race.

In all, it was a great day except for one thing: I came in last in the 10k. With the 5k and 10k starting at the same time, this means I was the last person on the road.

Last, as in Dead Last.

I like to think that the first time the saying "dead last" was used, it was about some sort of race where the competitor who came in last crossed the finish line and promptly died. It may sound morbid, but at least the deceased wouldn't have had to know the ignominy of hearing that phrase uttered about them.

And even when no one says it, it doesn't mean it doesn't come into your mind when you're in that position. I've been last before.

This is actually the 3rd time I've finished last in an event, and the 8th time I've been last in my agre group. You would think that having it happen before would prepare me. When you're last, there's a feeling of failure that creeps in to mute the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing the race.

While I have finished last now 8 times, I have also won my age group 5 times over the 37 races I've done. I know the feeling of looking back and seeing my nearest competitor struggling to keep pace with me, and not being able to do so. I know the elation of having no one ahead of me. It makes the race seem shorter, the pain seem less, and it makes you feel like you can go even faster.

Knowing what it's like to win makes losing that much harder. Instead of feeling faster and stronger at the end of the race, each step forward is an effort, and the areas that hurt simply won't be ignored. My first two miles were a little slow, but each mile after that was essentially at a speed I have walked in the past. And I was running this event. My end result was over 2 minutes slower than the person who finished ahead of me. I came in at a less than respectable 1:32:23. This was my second slowest 10k, behind only my first ever event.

With all the dark thoughts and disappointment, there are still some positives to take out of the event:

  • I ran the entire race. It may have been a slow shuffle sometimes, but I didn't walk a single step. This is the first time I've run a whole race, and it took far more effort than walking.
  • I hadn't properly trained for this distance. I've been running 1 to 3 miles, with no recent longer runs due to the holiday travel.
  • My nutrition was a mess. I had only an early morning bowl of cereal before the 11 AM race. I know better than this, and was hungry by the end of mile 2. This is not an excuse, merely something that I know I need to rectify if I'm to post better times. 
This is just the first race of many for the 2010 season, and I know I will look back on this in a few months with much better times under my belt.

No comments:

Post a Comment