Second from Last.
I was second from last in my trail half-marathon. I walked almost all of the last 7 miles, due to my ankle hurting and the heat, and poor hill training. It’s kind of embarrassing. I know BB could have gone much further, much faster. She’s a lot fitter than I am and not carrying around 30 extra pounds of fat like I am.
It’s embarrassing, actually. I felt like I should be better: I just ran a half marathon in under two hours. I’ve been triathlon training. Uh oh. Maybe not nearly well enough. I’m heavy, and slow, I dehydrate easily, and I didn’t prepare well. I could be in a lot of trouble. I’m feeling stupid and fat and lazy and embarrassed.
But I finished. And more importantly, I started. I choose to do hard things. I may not be good at them. I may not be smart at them. I may not be talented or athletic or anything. But I start things. I take on challenges. This course was too hard for me and I still finished. It was too hot and too steep and too humid and too technical and too long. And I started it, and I finished it.
I’m allowed to be terrible at things. But I don’t get to be bad at something unless I start it. And the only thing it takes to be good at something is to be willing to be bad at it. I’m willing to be bad at trail running. I’m willing to be bad at endurance athletics. I’m willing to be bad at running in the heat and the wet and on hills and through rivers.
I am a bad trail runner. I’m not fit enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not talented enough. And that’s ok. Because I may be a bad trail runner. But I’m a trail runner. I finished a grueling half-marathon in the Pennsylvania mountains with my partner by my side.
I’m not ashamed of being bad. Because you have to be bad before you can be good. And maybe I’ll be bad forever. Maybe trail running isn’t something I can do well. But I can do it. I started the race. And no matter what it threw at me – heat, humidity, hills, falls, injuries – I finished the race. So I’m a little embarrassed. I thought I’d be better. I had expectations.
But I am a finisher. Because I decided to start. And having started, I didn’t stop until the end.