Saturday, March 17, 2007

Last

As in, there were no people running behind me. As in first, only the inverse.

But also, 2:23.

And (give or take), among top 10 female finishers. (As of Wednesday morning, I was the 9th woman to sign up. "20 kilometers is a little long for women," the secretary told me. I didn't remind her that it was 21.1)

What's in a number.

****

It's actually really hard being last. I knew I was running the right pace for me, and I knew that in another race there would have been plenty of other people around me.

I knew I couldn't run any faster, but that if I kept going, I'd finish.

But there was a tiny voice screaming inside my head: last? LAST? Run faster, you idiot.

Then I ran past a man collapsed on the side of the road. Less than five kilometers in.

Be the tortoise. Love the tortoise.

Theo met me at 7.5-kilometers on my bike, with a backpack full of provisions. I didn't expect to see him so early. I did expect him to say hello, and then jet off to a later part of the course.

But did I mention I was last? All alone? So when he just kept riding next to me, you'll forgive me for not complaining. I felt slightly ridiculous to have my own personal support crew, except also? It was awesome. And he was fantastic. He handed me my iPod (which I'd left at home, and which he'd gone back, on the bike, to get for me), and just hung out, being there.

Around 10 kilometers in, a guy in front of me pulled a blue t-shirt on over his lime-green-race-issued tank top and walked off the course.

And a few kilometers later, we saw another guy walking. "You can totally catch up to him," Theo said. "Not gonna be last," my inner voice cheered.

He ran for a bit when we caught up to him (Theo, far too nice for my own good, kept encouraging him to keep going. My inner voice: Idiot! We can beat him!). But eventually he also dropped out.

And so for the next 8 kilometers or so, I ran a few feet in front of the sag wagon, with ever supportive, but brutally honest Senegalese people cheering me on. "You're last but it's okay!"

So I kept going. And when I started to flag, Kari and Rick, my new roommates, appeared out of the blue with oranges.

Finally, with only a few kilometers left, I saw another man straggling. But I was starting to hurt too, and twice I almost caught up to him, only to have to start walking because of cramps (in my left ankle, of all places).

But, and here's where I admit that I was lying in the opening to this post, with less than a kilometer left, I caught up to him. We ran together for a little bit but somehow I found a final kick and I totally smoked him.

But I'm still claiming my title. Last for 20 km out of 21 is close enough.

(P.S. I have the best friends. Julia was there at the start, including buying a last minute bottle of cold water, after the start was delayed more than half an hour. And Naw was waiting at the finish line to cheer me on as well. Yet more people to add to the long list of people who have been incredibly generous with their time and support in my various attempts at athleticism. Thank you!)

(Also P.P.S. After rumors that the entire Reuters bureau, a fun bunch of guys, were going to run the race, only one showed up. We warmed up together, but he soon took off in front of me, and ran a fantastic first half-marathon. He finished in 1:59! Pretty impressive, no?)

18 Comments:

Blogger Irene said...

"Be the tortiose." I'm all about tortoise speed. :) Regardless of placment, nice job! You rocked it and finished.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

that's a pretty heroic last. Good for you!

Also, you have a really nice boyfriend who brings you stuff.

6:38 PM  
Blogger jeanne said...

I love Theo! (Sorry, I know he's taken.) You did great. You know that your time is terrific for the training regimin you've been on...but, i can only imagine (don't worry, one day soon i won't have to imagine) how HARD it is being last. Now you've got being last out of the way! You can cross that off your list! See how it works?!! You totally rock, and so do your friends.
:)

12:28 AM  
Blogger a.maria said...

ok now this...

"You're last but it's okay!"

... is just too damn funny. that takes the cake.

well done, i say! well done!

after all... 20 kilometers is a little long for women. ;)

10:27 AM  
Blogger Steve Sherlock said...

Last is a relative position. However, the real important thing is that you DID finish, and you did it in your time.

Don't dwell on last.

Well, it does make a good story but it is more important to have finished.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Dori said...

That's a pretty speedy time for a half-M--congratulations! Of course, you are running with Africans, so no wonder you were behind. But you persevered when others were quiting because of the heat, so way to go! I'm glad to see you're running again.

6:02 PM  
Blogger David said...

You were so NOT last. Look at all those DNFers; the Reuters Bureau that didn't even show up; and all the spectators who didn't even run. You so kicked all their sorry lazy behinds.

You go Noames!

9:40 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

Competing matters, and you competed. You had to deal with spending most of the race in last. Which is fine, someone has to be last, and it's a place I've been. Only by struggling do we improve. You struggled, you completed the race, you didn't finish last, AND you have a story. You know you have a choice, train seriously and race seriously, or train some and have fun. Either is OK, as is anywhere along the continuum, but the real key is to be healthy and enjoy the experience.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

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12:58 AM  
Anonymous Liara Covert said...

I would highly recommend you read about the amazing achievements of Dick and his son Rick Hoyt and their marathon accomplishments.
Rick has been in a wheelcahir and his fatherr has pushed his son to hundreds of finish lines. Take in this inspirational story.
http://www.teamhoyt.com/history.shtml

3:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You finished, and that is all that matters! Congratulations!!!!

Massage Chairs

8:51 AM  
Blogger Snoskred said...

Hi, it's Snoskred here. I'm just dropping by to let you know that I read your blog with google reader whenever you update - which hasn't been for a little while and I hope everything is ok, and that I enjoy your blog. I'm re-doing my links on my blog, and I have linked to you in the sidebar.

8:00 AM  
Blogger a.maria said...

sooooooo... you're like still alive and stuff, right?!

its been a while and... inquiring minds need to know!

5:17 PM  
Blogger Rose Skelton said...

Well, I'm officially giving up checking your blog. I know you're alive, because I spoke to you yesterday and I know you say you don't write because nothing's happened....but I KNOW for a fact that you have a mango story, or a crossing the road story, or a story about Catholics, because who could live here and not have one?

Come on girl, give us a tale. Your blog's the only one I read!

7:17 AM  
Blogger Martijn said...

Hi Noames,

First of all...what a storie!!

I’ve seen you like to run! I’m from the Netherlands and running is also a hobby of mine.

I’ve developed a GPS running webpage. This webpage draws a line in Google Earth so that you can see where you have been. You also can ‘fly’ above the route by pressing ‘play’. When you have uploaded your trip you can analyze your run by means of height, heartbeat and speed graphs.

You can even put your trip on your own web log. Check mine to see how that looks like.

All these features are free and I hope you have some time to check the TTSM webpage.

There are already a lot of runners active at our page. Here’s a trip of the New York friendship run of 2006.

Regards,

Martijn

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to push through!

home therapy

11:41 AM  
Anonymous candace said...

Somehow I found your blog- read this post, then reread it to my husband. You are funny. Seriously. That needs to be written up somewhere- funny runner stories.

5:16 PM  
Blogger greg said...

I've been there so I know how you feel. First race I entered it took me 56 minutes to do a 5K. I wasn't a walker - or at least I didn't mean to be.

I was so last that the police cruiser following the race kept on bumping on the back of my knees.

7:26 PM  

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