Coming in last in a race (and feeling like you came in first)

Many of us have come to appreciate our running careers at whatever our pace may be. We’ve learned that there’s no point in comparing ourselves to others and to enjoy the positive feelings we reap from participating in an activity that provides us with challenges, experiences, moments of joy, strength and encouragement.

I came across a friend’s Facebook post about her fear of coming in last in a race and, her subsequent enjoyment, when she did, because of the supportive and beautiful environment in which it happened.

Nicole C-M and I met 15 years ago, when we both participated in a Half Marathon in Rio de Janeiro as part of a contingent of participants in one of the Canadian Diabetes “Run for Diabetes” events. We were paired up as roomies (the organizers must have thought it was a good idea to put two Nicoles together) and have kept in touch through social media.

Nicole posted on her FB the following and I thought it was worth sharing. She’s currently living in Knaresborogh, England (although from Muskoka, Ontario area):

“I have always had a fear of being last in a race, but today I was last (though my 5km pace was the fastest since I started using Strava on December 31st, so still a win). It was a great experience. The tail runner was with me the whole way chatting and encouraging me along, and the next race was about to begin as I was crossing the finish line, so I had a lot of people cheering me on. It was the longest run I’ve done since October, so still grateful to have finished, even if I was slow. Great experience, great runners (especially those Knaresborough Striders!), wonderful start to my Sunday.”

10km at the Skipton Shuffle (Nicole C-W’s beautiful pictures from the route are below).

Here’s to coming in last and feeling like you came in first, Nic! Or as she put it, “Here’s to everyone feeling good about themselves, no matter how they place. Kindness to ourselves is as important as kindness to others. 💕

Nicole P. loves to run and focus on the important things, the positive ways it makes her feel.

4 thoughts on “Coming in last in a race (and feeling like you came in first)

  1. Oh wow, thank you for sharing that. I do not run, but when I was made to run in elementary school (it was the 70s on the West Coast), I was regularly last and it was humiliating. If I had just been cheered, I think I would have had a whole other experience.
    Today I celebrate Nic and thank her and you for the inspiration.

  2. A good way to look at things. One other helpful thing to consider: We are out there, doing it. If we remind ourselves how few of us are even running 5ks at any pace? Or any other activity like that? I was once at a training weekend for a huge bike ride I had – for reasons I still struggle to remember – decided to go for. It’s up at elevation, and involves climbing 5 serious mountain passes in a day. Anyway, I was pretty sure to be the straggler in the training group. I always loved to “sweep” for regular training rides. The guy who ran the weekend, though, in his introduction, made a point of reminding us how few people would even be at such a thing, would ever even dream of such a ride. I have never forgotten that. And it doesn’t matter that it was a pretty serious endurance event. It helps me at 5ks; it helps me every time I do even a modest climb on my bike.

    How many athletes are there who have come in at the front of the pack at every level? Almost none. How many of us regular people even think in those terms? Same answer. Which, as I see it, is a good thing. We do it because we like it, maybe even love it, and because doing it regularly makes us feel so great.

    I finally finished that ride, sort of. It was my third try (one per year), and I walked the last bit up to the final summit. The paramedics actually tried to persuaded me to hop (ok, maybe fall would be a better word) into their ambulance as I approached. I got there so late I was not allowed to ride back down – getting too dark. I actually fell asleep standing up as I waited for a ride back down the hill. Some people finish in the early afternoon. So what???

    I want to persuade everyone to get out & do whatever appeals to them! So do the people who organize these events! Great to hear your friend had that experience!!!

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