Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Losing-est Loser Figures It Out

Athena 
The Goddess of War - and apparently more than 150 lbs.


If you are a woman who weighs more than 150 lbs, in the race I ran today, you are in the Athena Division. I am in the Athena Division.

When we lined up at the race start (The Classic 10K - dubbed the "fastest race in colorado" because it is relatively flat) I realized that I was the only non-athletic person there. 5K's attract walkers and very slow joggers but 10K's weed all those out (except the BolderBoulder because it is more like a street fair than a race). It was a small race - maybe 300 people? At the gun everyone took off and I told Roland, Ike and Kelly that they didn't need to run with me.  It took me about 5 minutes to realize that I would most likely be the last person to finish. It made me cry. Not sobbing wrenching tears, just a lump in the throat and a burning behind the eyelids.

Athena doesn't cry.

I was embarrassed. I wanted to turn back and wait at the car. I didn't want to run 6 miles knowing the whole time that I am the slowest. Athena doesn't quit. So I slogged it out. I ended up "running" with at 22 year old girl for most the race and I asked lots of questions so I could focus on listening and running.  Before long we were at the halfway point and I was feeling good. Better than I felt at BolderBoulder. But still - I was last.

In case you haven't ever been last (and you probably haven't) I will describe it for you. They've turned off the victory music. The finish line is empty except for the people you are riding home with, the race staff, and the Ethiopian winners of the race who are collecting their prize money. There is no fanfare. No one tells you what an inspiration you are for even showing up much less running that whole stupid thing. Your husband will hug you and tell you he is proud and that you really need to hurry to the bus because the last one is leaving soon. Your girlfriend will try to convince you that she saw someone running behind you and you weren't last. And, thankfully, everyone else will ignore you. No one, but you, really cares. And unlike the winner there is no recognition, thank goodness.

I did win though. I took 11 minutes off of my BolderBoulder time. So. That is a victory.

Afterwards we went to the farmer's market to pick up our CSA share (what the heck do you do with a kolrabi?) and I thought:

"Who are we? Last year I wouldn't have run 1/2 mile and certainly wouldn't have been excited about a bag o'beets! But today I ran 6 miles! 11 mintues faster than I did in May! And I can't wait to get this kolrabi home!"

I don't even recognize myself.

Athena

9 comments:

the wrath of khandrea said...

this would be an appropriate time to say that YOU KICKED ASS! i couldn't do 6 miles, and i weigh about as much as athena's cute little hat. so for whatever it's worth...

Linda said...

You're an inspiration! Maybe I'll enter a race and I can be the oldest losingest loser finsher and be proud

Kristi said...

11 minutes off your Boulder Boulder time his HUGE!! You just ran that race in May and look at the progress you have made!You did fabulous! Keep it up!!

Diana said...

I agree-taking off 11 minutes is a very difficult task and you did it in a very short amount of time. You did great!

Two years ago, I ran a race that made me feel exactly the same way you felt today. Sometimes I find myself foolishly believing that I am a decent runner. I went to this race feeling that way. I rode down to the race with two women who were faster than I was and we each expected our families to meet us at the finish. I knew I was the slower than the other two but I hoped that I wasn't too much slower. I injured myself during the race and walked the last 1/2 of it. I was hurt when I realized that my "friends" did not stick around to see why I had finished so slowly. Not only did I disappoint myself in my finish. I didn't have a cheering section at the end. It hurts. I cried. And I'm so sorry that you felt that way today.

What those athletes don't know about you is how inspirational you are. Really, you are. Have you noticed how people flock to be your friend? They do because you are amazing, Robin. *Hugs*

Robin said...

Oh - you guys are so nice. Really. I'm a lucky girl to have such fabulous friends.

Kristen said...

I think you are amazing! I am impressed and inspired by you! And if I had been there, I would have cheered so loudly that the ethiopian winners would have been jealous! Humility is a good thing, but in this case, you ought to be proud!

Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

Go girl! You inspire me. It doesn't matter who's first or last-comparison is useless- it's all about tackling your goals. I know we don't know each other, but I am SO proud of you.

Julie said...

Robin- I'm so proud of you to have finished and I do know EXACTLY how you felt. When we lived in New Mexico I did a mini triathelon. For real athletes it is a lark but for me it was LLLLOOOOONNNNGGGG! I had my age in grease pencil on my leg and it embarassed me to be passed by people with 17 and 18 on their legs (even a 14 I think). I was DEAD LAST. Not just in my age category. All I can say now is I finished. I'm proud of you and I wish I could have been there to hug you and cheer loudly! You are awesome!

wife2abadge said...

I'm very proud of you! My daughter finished a 5K once and was 1 1/2 laps behind everyone else (it was on a track). She finished SOBBING, but she didn't quit. I told her I was incredibly proud that she didn't give up (unlike the kid who realized he would also be last, pretended he had to tie his shoe, and left the track!).