On Finishing Last…

Okay, so… I’ve been thinking a lot the last day and a half on finishing a race dead ass last.  Not losing.  I didn’t lose.  Losing would have been quitting because it got hard, or not starting because of the rain, or not trying because it’s work.  I didn’t lose.  I ran my race and I finished.  And I’m glad I did.

But, there are things that you miss out if you are in the back of the pack.

In February, I did the Austin Half.  My time was 4:00:39.  Not really anything to brag about other than I finished.  I was hurting like hell and I finished.  Yesterday I did 10 miles in 2:38:57.  And I felt pretty damn good by the time I finished.


I learned that, when you’re last, you really don’t seem to count.

The people taking pictures… get great pictures of the HUGE herd of people crossing the starting line… coming around mile 9 or 10 or 12… or across the first street bridge or whatever.  They disappear after the huge herd passes.  I got my picture taken I think three times yesterday… Once at the start, once rounding the 9.75 mile mark and once crossing the finish line.   And that guy really didn’t want to still be there, you could tell.

The people cheering leave.  If you aren’t in the herd, you really don’t get cheered so much except sometimes by the people at the water stops.

The water stops dry up and blow away.  In the half, right were I NEEDED gatoraid and right where I NEEDED water, the tables were there, there were empty cups blowing around.  There was no water.  Yesterday, as we were finishing the last two miles, they were pulling the tables and the water buffalos.  Poof… no water for the stragglers.  The people not elite… the people not fast enough to be in with the in crowd… they probably don’t need water by mile 8-9-10-11-whatever anyway.

I’m not elite.  I don’t have a bicycle riding with me to make sure I make my time and get to the finish line in the first handful of runners.  I’m not even really middle of the pack.  Yesterday, we had the medic buggy pacing us about 7 feet behind my heels.  Okay, it may have only felt to me like they were vultures circling the feast, but, you know what, I had THREE hours to finish.  I guess technically I had until 10:00 am to finish by what I was told…   I finished in under 16 minute miles.  I finished with a good FIFTEEN minutes to spare and THAT was after they delayed the start 15 minutes.  I might not ever be a good runner, but it really is demoralizing to realize that your ass is what is holding up EVERYONE from going out and having their fun.

I paid my money.  I count.

For all of those even planners out there planning races…

Leave the water until AFTER the last runners pass.  It’s not that many extra minutes to your day.

Don’t park your porta-potty truck on the course even if you have to wait for us to pass and it takes you an extra twenty minutes on your day.  Going around you truck is a pain in the ass and tacky.

If you are the people scraping up the bodies that don’t make it, If I happen to still be up and running (or walking or crawling for that matter) BACK OFF.  You are in a buggy.  Staying 20 feet back or 30 feet back… or however far back it ends up being that I don’t have to hear you discussing your lunch plans that I’m ruining by being one of the last 10 people to finish.

I may not matter to you, but this matters to me.  I matters just as much to me, hell, maybe it matters MORE to me, as it does to mister first place finisher.

And if you are taking pictures, I buy your stupid pictures.  Usually.  If I’m actually… you know… IN any of them.  Want to make a buck (or a hundred bucks)… maybe I count too.  Probably not… but maybe.

okay… I’ll quit venting (and hope like hell I can get to sleep soon).

Just… please know… those of us who aren’t in the first half of the pack have feelings.  We spent the same amount of money to be here as everyone else, hell, maybe more.  Have the courtesy to treat us the way that you treated the guy who finished first in a course record.


12 responses to “On Finishing Last…

  1. I have finished dead last too. It’s not fun and yet, my experience was entirely different then yours. http://tripattytri.blogspot.com/2013/06/epic-weekend-looking-back-i-cant.html

    I heard the golf cart behind me picking up the direction cones and signs and was handed the last cup of water as I passed the water stop. But you know what, I finished that 10K and was darn proud of my effort.

    I have several friends who are event directors in our area and I will pass your post along to them. They both know the golden rule of a successful race: treat your runners right.

    I also have RA and don’t plan to stop running/biking/swimming anytime soon. So glad that I stumbled across your blog. Keep moving! Whatever you can, whenever you can.


    • I won’t give up. I’m a stubborn old bird and I’m not letting anyone scare me away or shame me from doing what I do. I am determined to not get swept at Disney in January… and with any luck at all, I will get to run the Dumbo Double Dare next August with my daughter.
      If I slow down, RA will catch me. I’m not going to let it catch me.


  2. Awesome post. Sorry to hear about your experience. I hope you send a link to this post to the race organisers. I’m gonna share this on twitter, because I’m sure this will resonate with many.


    • You know… I’m really proud to say that, while I was DFL, I didn’t have a DNF (or worse, a DNS). I did it.
      I get why people leave the cheering after their runner passes and finishes, but having them open the water buffaloes ahead of our passing (and only ahead of us by two… maybe three minutes…) it is demoralizing. It wouldn’t have killed any of them to wait until the last ten of us all passed by.
      I sent a similar email to the people who organized the half marathon last year… and I never even got an email back…


      • That’s poor. What race was it?


      • alicorndreams

        Run For The Water
        10 miler in Austin… Awesome cause… providing clean water in Burundi Africa.


      • Ah, at least that’s a positive.


      • alicorndreams

        It is a very positive charity. I will likely run the race again next year. It wasn’t an expensive race. There was only bling for the top three in each age category. It’s a good charity.
        And I know that there has to be a first place finisher, and a last place finisher. I finished and I felt incredible (or at least better than I expected to.
        Waiting the extra five minutes wouldn’t have hurt anyone.
        There was a woman who NEEDED the support. NEEDED the volunteers… the words of encouragement. She was hitting her own wall in her head and all she had was her husband (no chip) running with her trying to help her stay positive. I helped him try to cheer her on. She could have used encouragement.
        There was water at the finish line. One of the volunteers went and bought a case of bottled water to have some at the finish line for those of us who were towards the end. I don’t know if she will ever know how much that meant to me, at least.
        There were bright spots. But there are things that bother me just because they bother my spirit…


  3. Well, here’s the important thing: congrats on finishing your half marathon!! Though the circumstances were a bit different, I had this happen at a 10K Turkey Trot last year. Water stations were gone and, worse, they had picked up cones guiding runners, so we literally had no idea where to go until a straggler volunteer noticed. It was rough…I feel ya.


  4. is DMARDs are effective in RA treatment or there is anther better treatment? i have read about DMARDs on this site http://www.symptoms-of-ra.com/2013/12/DMARDs.html but i want to know more about Relief symptoms of RA


    • I guess the answer to that question is… it depends… DMARDs work very well for some people. For other people, the doctors add in biologics. For me Methotrexate helped some, but not completely. It took a while before they found the biologic that worked well.

      I think what works and how it works is as varied as the condition itself…


  5. Look for Mainly Marathons. They wait for everyone, no matter how long it takes. I’ve never seen better support for runners/walkers. And at 4 hours for a 1/2, you wouldn’t be last.


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