Finishing Last: Your Winning Moment

autumn leaves, runners, legs only

People running along a path strewn with leaves race. Photo:

Autumn in the Las Vegas means morning temperatures in upper 70s, low 100s in the late afternoon, shorter hours of daylight, and fresh squashes and pumpkins in grocery stores.

I’m so eager to get outside again in the cool morning hours for my walks and bike rides. During the summer, I prefer treadmill workouts at the gym or indoor bike trainer sessions in my living room. Air conditioning lets me workout longer, with more intensity, and often at a faster pace for a sustained period of time.

I’m also not willing to chance heat exhaustion or heat stroke training outdoors in the Vegas summer heat, not even on race day! It took months for me to fully recover from heat exhaustion in my teens and again in my late thirties.

The heat of this past summer, however, really zapped me of any interest, let alone motivation, to even get to the gym. My performance at my upcoming race walking competitions will undoubtedly suffer for it. As much as I don’t like that, I’m okay with it.

What? How can I be okay with not doing well in a race? Confused? I get it!

American culture focuses on “winning.” Second place doesn’t count and finishing last is disgraceful. Yes, we see stories about awe-inspiring last-place finishers such as Mary Shertenlieb at this year’s Boston Marathon. But for the rest of us last-place finishers, we often have to deal with people (especially those closest to us) asking why we walk, run, bike, swim, jump, shoot, etc. if we end up last?

The short answer is we enjoy it! We do it every day, every other day, or whenever we can squeeze the activity into our overly booked lives to find inner peace, escape daily stress, carve time out for ourselves, or to delay deteriorating health. We sign up for competitions to give ourselves a goal to work toward, to test our fitness and resolve, and to share the experience with others who share our passion and craziness.

I know what it feels like to finish last, to have a police escort to the finish line, and to arrive to see the finish line already torn down and packed away. But I still got my finisher medal, and, dammit, I proved to myself I could do it!

So please, do your very best to ignore your naysayers, the haters, and the couch potatoes. I know it’s hard, but consider this: You’re already a “winner” because you’re doing your best on your journey toward improved fitness and overall health.

Plus, when you cross that finish line in last place, you’ll be far, far ahead of those who didn’t show up to the start line!


About Bonnie Parrish-Kell

Publisher & Chief Diva here at Slowpoke Divas. I always feel better after a good workout or matter how sore I am afterwards. Tweet me @bparrishkell or @slowpokedivas. Instagram: @slowpokedivas