0 In Fitness & Health/ Goals

What finishing last in a race taught me

If you’ve been reading the blog in the last year, you’ll know that last July I took part in my first novice triathlon. I’ve gone on and on about it because it was my biggest physical feat, probably ever. It was an exhausting but amazing challenge to have tackled!

When I announced it on Facebook I stated my only real goal was to not finish last. I trained hard for two months, but on the day I didn’t do as well as I thought I would. After the facts, I was happy to see that 2 people finished after us. We weren’t last.

But then 3 months later, we took part in our first aquathlon. A quick race that involves a 750m pool swim and a 5k run.

I wasn’t too fussed about it, having already gone through the stress of my first race over the summer. I hadn’t been training massively, but I knew I’d be able to finish. It was going to be a nice wee challenge with my friend and training partner, P.

I was hoping for a 25mins swim and 35mins run, so 1h at the max. On the day of the race, the swim went great and I finished in under 21mins (doing breast stroke), which I was very proud of. The run was more of a challenge. I walked quite a lot on the hilly bits, but in the end I was happy that it ended up taking me 35mins, which had been my goal. Not a bad considering I’d struggled.

I remember I was so proud when we crossed the finish line, and then again when I realised it took less than 59mins (including transition). I’d achieved my goal, and improved my swimming time! Amazing news!

A few days later, results were out and we saw we’d finished last. I burst into laughter.

It’s a bit upsetting to be last, but I’d been so proud of my results that it completely erased the idea that we’d come ‘last’.

I told my mom and she said something along the line of “Let’s not forget that you finished last on a race of 70 people, which doesn’t include all the people that didn’t have the courage, ability, energy, or interest to take on such a challenge. You always had that persevering quality about you.”

She’s my biggest fan of course, but she’s right in a way. We finished last, on an overall number of 70 people only.

And we weren’t really competing with the other people (some of them competitive athletes), as much as with ourselves! It was then that I realised why I’d been mad at finishing almost last during the triathlon – I was disappointment with myself, and consoled myself by comparing my results to those of other participants.

Being happy with my own result also made me realise that finishing last means nothing if you only compare and compete with yourself and your own time. I had personal goals and I accomplished them. I’m so proud of myself and nothing can change that fact.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is also true about life generally. We all have different goals, so comparing apples and oranges is moot. If you have goals and you’re doing your best and you’re proud of yourself, then nothing else matters.

So go out in the world, you perfect sunflower, and do your best for yourself!xx

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