If You’re Not First You’re Last

Since I started back to school reading for leisure is not something I get to do very often. So while I was on my flight to MN last week I was able to get caught up on a few of my back issues of Runner’s World. One of the articles I read was titled Dead Freakin Last…and Proud of It! This was a great article about those who are the very last to finish races. In the Genesis Running Program, I did they always have a Sweeper to be sure no one in the program is last in the race which is a really cool thing to do. But as I read this article I remembered I had actually run a race many years ago in 2004. I totally forgot all about it!

I was working in an Intensive Outpatient Substance Abuse Program at a local hospital, at that time was just playing around with the idea of running a 5k. I was not in shape at all, I barely walked let alone ran anywhere and I was a little overweight. I was playing around with trying to eat better but no real commitment (my how things have changed). Anyway, one of my colleagues was a runner and we had talked about her running and me getting into running but nothing really came of it; until she had me talked into running a 10k, yes you read that right a 10k! Looking back on it now I had no idea what I was thinking, I didn’t even know what a 10k was at the time, the complete lack of knowledge I had about the sport of running and running in general, geeze! What made this idea even worse was where this race was taking place at Kanawha State Forest one of the State Parks in WV.  It’s a hilly beast, so this made it even more of a bonehead moment for me. I knew nothing about form, proper shoes, clothes, I looked like I was from the Island of Misfit Runners. My colleague for all her good intentions and having confidence in my ability to do this race but she didn’t help me to prepare for it all. No practice runs, nothing. I don’t remember much about the complete race; more so just the end. I remember being really exhausted and fighting to finish it, and people passing me. I thought I was going to die, my legs hurt so bad and I felt heavy. I was a hot sweaty mess. My colleague, her name was Robin, was with me the whole time. But I did finish this race and I was absolutely Dead Freakin Last!! I remember being a little embarrassed but I honestly was too tired to care. However, when I finally crossed the finish line folks clapped for me as I crossed. I don’t know if they were happy for me that I finished or if they could finally get on with the awards 😂 But here’s the funny part….I won my division! Haaaaa! The caveat is I was the only one in my division but I didn’t care I got my prize like I beat a million people! I hobbled right up there accepted it. The next day and next several days, I was never so glad to have a bathroom on the first floor. My legs hurt so bad I could barely stand let alone walk. 🤕

Until I read this article I had completely forgotten about this race. I searched through some things and found the medal (my very first) from that day. I didn’t realize the significance of this medal until now. Finishing DFL isn’t the worst thing that can happen, Had it not been for that race my first 5k and half-marathon may not have been possible. It is because of that first race and finishing DFL I learned how strong I was, I’m a fighter and if I set a goal I’m going to meet it.

Fishing Dead Freakin Last may not be a bad thing 😉

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Author: Tammi Lewis

I was born and raised in WV. I live in Charleston, WV. I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Charleston and from Marshall University Graduate College with my Master’s Degree. I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I have been in the field of mental health and substance abuse for about 26 years. I started running about two years ago by beginning a running program to help me prepare for my first 5k. I had wanted to run a 5k for years but never got around to doing it. Two years ago there was an event that happened which sent me on an emotional rollercoaster; starting this program was a way to get off that rollercoaster. Once I finished that first 5k I got the running bug and haven't stopped running since.

6 thoughts on “If You’re Not First You’re Last”

  1. If there is such a thing as ADFL (almost Dead Freakin Last), then I am the standard bearer for it! 😀 I’m almost always one of the last to cross the finish line. Once I was. In fact, I was so far behind, I GOT LOST in this small 10k that I ran. John Bingham talks about the Courage to Start….well, the courage to come back after DFL is just as big. Here’s to use ADFLs who bring up the rear and keep coming back for more. The fast people should thank us. In fact, save their breath for running. Just let them throw money! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved that Runner’s World article as well! So far I’ve yet to come in last in a race, but being the very slow runner that I am, it’s probably going to happen eventually. But there is definitely no shame in being the very last person to cross the finish line! I mean, someone had to be the very last person to finish. Plus, if you’re out there doing your best, having fun, and making an effort to live a healthier more active lifestyle, you’re still a winner in my book! Plus, it seems to me that most runners are super supportive and really genuinely care about their fellow runners, no matter where they are in the pack. I think that’s what’s so great about this sport!

    Liked by 1 person

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