I always dreaded coming last, but now that I’ve done it, it’s strangely liberating.
I heard one hot, exhausted lady triathlete utter these words as she came by our drink stop for the last time today. She’d been overtaken by everyone behind her and she didn’t have the energy to go any faster. She did indeed come last.
Launceston Triathlon Club was part of Sprint and Olympic distance triathlon events today at Bridport on the north coast of Tasmania, Australia. Both Pauly and I aren’t up to these distances so we put our hands up to help out. Or more truthfully I put my hand up for US to help. It was an early start even for dairy farmers, we were up at 3:15am to get there to help with some of the setting up. Then we helped with a drink stop for the run.
It was hot and humid: 30°C and 71%. The early start was great for the triathletes but that didn’t really mean cool – it was 19°C as we pulled into Bridport at 5:45am. The cloud cover was pretty wonderful and the water was calm but by the time the slower Olympic distance participants got to the run it was hot and sunny. They looked so utterly spent and roasting hot. They had to loop by our drink stop four times to finish the 10km run.
Being on a drink stop was an interesting experience and I would encourage every single runner to volunteer for this job if you haven’t done it before. I’ve volunteered many times at parkrun but never in any other event. It was hectic! Laying out cups, filling cups, handing out cups, picking up dirty cups, cheering, clapping, encouraging, providing public leaning post facilities for runners who needed to stretch…. then doing all these jobs over and over and over! Exhausting!
I’m big on saying thank you to volunteers. Really big and after today well… let’s just say a monster has been created. I’ll be saying it way more and way louder! It was hot, hard work out there today!
Which brings me back to the lady who came last. I don’t think she’d every come last before and I got the impression from talking to Janette that she was a pretty ok triathlete. She discovered that there are worse things than coming last. And don’t I know it. I often say that last is my signature place. I’ve been last so many times as well as second last and for quite a while coming third last was my thing. In fact if I wasn’t coming third last I thought there was something wrong!
Coming last doesn’t hurt. Failing to get a PB doesn’t hurt.
Not being able to participate hurts.
It hurts hugely.
Participating is the best thing. In two weeks time I will be lining up for my fourth Super Sprint Triathlon. I shall be the slow one swimming like there is no rush, riding cautiously to avoid any form of over-exertion or (gasp) sweat and running like I still have a bike seat up my rear end*. But I shall do it with a smile on my face thanking my lucky stars that I am able to do a baby triathlon. Last doesn’t hurt, last is good, last means I was there and I did it and I finished. That in my book makes me a winner.
Yes Dear Exhausted Lady Triathlete, coming last is strangely liberating and I am so incredibly liberated that I may just have to burn my crop top…well maybe not that liberated! If coming last is a worry that you have, please be buoyed up by the sentiment that I hope comes through this post. Don’t fear coming last, it doesn’t matter. Just get out there and have a go. You won’t know what you can do until you have a go.
Happy running 🙂
PS After volunteering Pauly and I went for a wonderful swim and I’m pleased to say that Pauly’s open water swimming confidence has grown even after one more swim out of the pool.
Super Sprint Distance: 300m, 10km ride, 2.5km run.
Sprint Distance: 750m swim, 20km ride, 5km run.
Olympic Distance: 1.5km swim, 40km ride, 10km run.
*there is video evidence of this from my first triathlon and it is here somewhere on the blog