I have been here before.Many many times.
And I will be there again I am sure.
Many Many Times.
In my first ever triathlon, Escape from Fort Desoto in 2011, they were breaking down the water stops and finishing line when I crossed. By the time I got to the 1.5 mile run turnaround the water stop was gone so I ran the run portion with no hydration. The only one there at the finish line was the photographer and Jennifer. Even the majority of my Team in Training people had left. The photographer snapped a picture of me coming down the final 100m after Jenny had ran out to meet me. It is still my favorite race picture.
Things tended to get better after that. I was not always last in the race but I was always last in my group, whether it was age group or Clydesdales. I only finished above last in one race at Crystal River.
I was 10th place.
Out of 11.
And I think the one I beat was 80 years old.
Kicked his old ass all over that race course.
Small victories. 🙂
But I soldiered on. Even though my times got better that first year my placing in the standing remained the same. Always last either in the race as a whole or in my wave grouping.
I learned to embrace it, at least outwardly. I joked about it. Took in the encouragement of the other people I trained with that kept telling me “placing doesn’t matter”, or “the fact that you are out there means you beat every man who never got out of bed this morning”. It is well meaning and true I guess, but that little voice inside my head (I like to call him “Rick”) kept telling me “you’re LAST dude. LAST. Again.”
No I know this shouldn’t bother me, and most of the time it doesn’t, but there are times, late at night, that Rick saunters over to me, plops himself down on the couch, looks at me with those red, bloodshot eyes, and just shakes his head.
“I know Rick. Don’t say it please?”
Rick just shakes his head at me and utters one word.
Another race season done and in the books and I have yet to climb out of last place. In my final race of the season, the Augusta 70.3, I entered with high hopes and expectations. Mind you, no matter what Rick says, I never entertain any notion of finishing first, but I was confident with my good starting wave (5th) and training that I could break the string of last place finishes in this race.
Of course, the Tri Gods (she MUST be a woman) had other plans and gave me tech issues on my bike. As I struggled through the bike portion I kept telling myself “Just finish it out JC, there are so many in this race the chances of you finishing last is remote, just keep grinding it out”. When the final standing were released I was please to see that in my group I was 244 of 302. Not Last.
Or so I thought …
When I dug into the full standings and looked for my name in the group and found it, proudly, at number 244. Then I looked at all the names below me. and lo and behold ….
I was the LAST finisher.
No one below me had a finishing time. In fact, the only one that even had any split times was the one directly below me who looked as though he dropped after the swim. No other man in my group even got through the swim or started the race.
There was Rick again, looking over my shoulder, not comforting me, not saying “work hard and it will get better next year”. No, just that sorrowful look in his eyes and that sad shake of the head.
I hate Rick …