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Friday, August 5, 2011

Dead F’n Last!

I mentioned good run buddy in the last blog post. She was the last person to cross the finish line for the Calgary 70.3. She didn’t make the official finishers list, but the race org placed that big ass belt buckle medal around her neck when she crossed the line – because she fucking deserved it!

Every BIT of it!


What would you do? Have a read at her own race story. I have a feeling there is a lot more emotion under these words… Let me know what you would do in this situation.

This is the email I received from her today.

Hey Neil,

I’ve been meaning to thank you for your motivation during the race on Sunday!  I’ve been a little busy this week, but I decided to write a race report.  I wanted to send it to you so that you know how my race experience went.  I didn’t make the final cut-off time but I finished the entire distance and learned a lot about myself and what it takes to complete something so challenging.  Thanks for being there and being a part of my day.  True friends are the ones who give you their strength so that you can take it and carry on. 

Thank you!

(name withheld)

P.S. If you feel so inclined, please feel free to take an excerpt from my report for your blog.  We all get motivation from others and you never know who might take this and pay it forward J

Calgary 70.3 July 31st, 2011 – A Great Personal Achievement!

My day started off quite well with a nice relaxed swim, I didn’t have trouble adjusting to the water and only had trouble sighting with the sun straight ahead.  I had some trouble with my goggles part way through the swim so I stopped there, but afterwards just tried to keep an even and relaxed pace.  Staying on course was difficult as the buoys were so far away.  I’m sure I swam extra distance.  I exited the water later than I had hoped to, but still made the cut-off time which was my main goal anyway.  Total swim time 1:06:59. 

Wished my T1 could have been a little faster, had I not decided to put on sunscreen or visit the outhouse but I felt both of those were important at the time!  T1 time 10:31. 

Once on my bike I felt comfortable.  I felt some fatigue going up Grand Valley Road, for some reason I don’t like riding on that road much, as I think because of the pebbly road quality I don’t “roll” very well – so the bike is more effort on that road.  I tried to make up for it on Horse Creek and found I was in a good rhythm, passed about 4 or 5 athletes and was happy with 2:02 across the half-way timing mat.  The hill out of Cochrane took more out of me than I expected.  I started to get very worried about making the bike cut-off and even started preparing myself for being told I couldn’t continue.  But decided I wouldn’t deal with it until I was there. Average 22.4 kms/hour which I was happy with considering it included the hill.  Total bike time 4:11:23.

Once I made it into T2 I felt very tired and wondered if I could continue.  I headed out on the run and hoped my fuel in the last 10 minutes of the bike and powerbar at T2 would help me.  Just as I was started to get my legs I saw Neil!  He ran some strides with me and gave me strength to carry on.  I told him I felt “done” and he asked what I was going to do.  I said I was going to keep going.  He said “atta girl” which was so encouraging!  I wonder though if he thought I was nuts. (ed note: to be honest, I didn't know what to think and I was worried about her) About 4k into the run I felt disappointed and defeated.  I looked down at my Garmin and knew that if I could only keep this pace (9:45/km average pace) I wouldn’t finish the race in time.  The finish line area was only steps away (ed note: the diabolical run course that passed the finish line at 4k and 17k) and I was the closest to quitting anything I have ever been.  Then a girl jogged passed me and started walking immediately in front of me.  I decided to just keep walking some more, and went down the Weaselhead hill.  I jogged as much as I could before my stomach would complain and I had to walk.  The girl in front of me kept doing the same.  My disappointment turned to aspiration, that maybe I can still finish this, even if it’s just for me.  I jogged and walked the remainder of the race and half-expected them to pull me off the course at some point.  But it just wasn’t in me to quit after I had come that far.  The race took me longer than I expected or hoped for, but I just couldn’t quit.  I passed through the Team TriLife aid station and they told me not to give up and to push through everything.  Once I reached the top of the Weaselhead hill again, I was tempted again to call it a day as the finish line area was again only steps away.  I saw my coach and she let me know the finish line had closed officially, but that she knew I could run the final 4k.  After 113.3k, what was another 4k?  I knew my husband and best friend wouldn’t mind waiting just a little longer for me.  And I knew I owed it to myself after all the training.  1k from the finish line, a truck involved with the race stopped and out jumped BFF!  I was so happy to see her, and I saw that our buddy Neil had dropped her off.  What amazing friends!  BFF ran with me for a bit and I just enjoyed her company rather than check my watch for how far it was to go.  Around the corner was DH and he gave me so much strength to make it to the finish line.  And I also wonder if he thinks I am nuts. (ed note: probably)

I crossed the finish line and I think it was somewhere between 8:45 and 9:00 for my total time.  I wasn’t an official finisher by the Ironman cut-off time but I covered the entire distance.  The volunteers presented me with a finishers medal, stating that I was a finisher just like anyone who completed the distance.  I still felt disappointed that I didn’t reach all my goals…….except for the most important one: to finish.  I am very happy that I finished something I started.  If I could do this, then now I can learn from it and use the experience to become a better triathlete.  I know what I need to work on, and that means I have new aspirations and goals.

So? What do you think? I am pretty sure my relatively fragile ego wouldn’t have let me cross last. I think I may have taken the DNF… but who knows.

This is the actual race course. Down the path, over the bridge way down on the right center, over to the far side and back…


  1. This was so beautiful, the perseverance, the support from volunteers and friends, oh and the fact that she completed an IRONMAN!!

    Big congrats Neil's friend! P.S. your report was great, come to the darkside of blogging ;-P.

  2. That is an awesome race. I think you lose your ego somewhere along the line and your inner strength takes over. That's what racing is really about...inner strength. Tenacity. Your friend definitely has that:)

  3. Congratulations, J! You accomplished something that many, many people think is crazy or beyond their reach. And now you have a time to beat for next time. :)

    Neil, what a treat for you to be able to read how you impacted a friend's race. :)

    I'd think have tried to finish. I'd rather be last than quit. Your equation at the top says it all for me. And I've gone into quite a few things thinking I had a strong chance at DFL. It's for me, to see if I can, and crossing that finish line proves that you can.

  4. Congratulations J! Your story is very inspiring!

    Neil - I love your equation at the top of the post. Fantastic.

  5. Congrats, J! Thanks for letting Neil share your story with the rest of us. Very inspiring post! WOW, you completed a half ironman! THAT'S AWESOME! :)

  6. Spot on with the equation. I'll do an ironman one day. It also makes me want to be a pace bunny and volunteer.

  7. thanks for sharing this, super inspiring

  8. Congratulations! Finishing to me is more important than coming in last or not at all. Last year at the Chicago Marathon on the day of the marathon and the week after I was officially the last person to cross the finish line. Though they had a clock but no mat with the proof from my camera pics the times on the official finishers list was updated. A month later I became only the last female finisher with 8:29.

    I couldn't have gone through all that I did that day to just walk away from it and not finishing.
    So stand tall and wear that medal with pride. You did it. You finished!

  9. Love this story, thanks so much for sharing. In my opinion it's not the pros that are heros but those that slug it out in the back. Please tell her she did amazing!

  10. ego is evil, and this proves it. bravo!!!