WHAT IS THE GREAT *FEAR* IN BEING LAST?
Okay, I will be the first to tell you that I don't like being slow, I think it is why the BIKE is my first love because a bike means INSTANT SPEED. Give me a downhill and I excel! I am an ATHENA and baby, I can descend - I've got SKILLZ and I have weight on my side.
Whenever I meet a new athlete, somebody new to triathlon, biking or running - the thing that I always hear is "But I don't want to be LAST..." In fact, used often enough it becomes a great excuse and scape-goat...
"I didn't sign up for the race, I didn't want to be LAST..."
"I stopped half-way, I didn't want to be LAST..."
"I'm not sure I want to sign up for that distance, what if I am LAST?"
SO I CHALLENGE YOU: (cause I know you guys are lurking out there...)
WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH BEING LAST?
Is LAST worse than never having gotten off the couch?
Is LAST worse than never having started the race?
Is LAST worse than quitting?
Does being LAST make you a bad person?
The answer to all these questions is NO!
I think people confuse LAST with SLOW and nobody wants to be seen as SLOW. And I am here to tell you that SLOW is completely relative. My average Marathon Pace is 12:30 per mile. 10:00 minute miles are fast to me! Once I ran a 5K in 27:00 - ONCE - sub 9:00 minute miles at the age of 32 - I'd like to see that speed again when I am 42 at least once but I have a long road ahead...
BUT: A 9:00 minute mile wont even get you out the door and on your way to qualifying for the Boston Marathon at my age (38). You are looking at an 8:40 pace or faster. Oh and by the way - 8:40 pace is SLOW for a person who might run 6:00 minute miles!
You get my point, SLOW is relative.
Now SLOW does matter when it comes to most RACES, I know that - I understand the concern you have! Race Directors work closely with towns, police and road closures so cut-off times are there for a reason. They keep the athletes safe and keep the volunteers and race workers from being out all night. The CUTOFF is there for a reason.
And for full disclosure let me say that I am a FULLY AWARE that the time cuttoff for the Jim MacDonnell 2-Mile Swim was 90:00 minutes. My official finish time was 96:07 - 6 minutes beyond the advertised limit.
Did I think that I was going to miss the limit when I signed up for the race?
No, I knew I would be close and that is what scared the *BLEEP* out of me. But I was willing, based on my POOL times for 1650 (40:00) to sign up for the race and take a chance.
I was lucky and can only assume that the Race Officials decided that since I was close to being finished and not appearing to be in distress, they let me finish the race. I could also have been within the 90:00 time for the last wave. All I know is that I was not pulled out of the water nor was I disqualified and I am listed as an official finisher - that was the decision of the race director on that give day.
So again I say : SO WHAT!! BIG DEAL, YOUR SLOW!
The bigger questions for slower athletes are these?
Are you too slow for the cuttoff times of the event?
Are you willing to do the hard work it takes to get faster?
Are you willing to take the risk, do the work, and face the clock - accepting the possibility that you might be pulled from the race because you are not fast enough but knowing that you will have given it the best effort that you have in that race, on that day?
If your not willing or able to take that risk, then stay home, stay safe and stop using "LAST" as the catch-all excuse because there will always be somebody else out there who may not like being SLOW but would be just fine with being LAST...
especially since FIRST and LAST both cross the SAME FINISH LINE!
Just my 02 cents on the subject...