Crossing the finish line of a triathlon is a pretty big deal for lots of folks. Heck, for that matter, crossing the finish line of almost any race is a big deal for lots of us. Perhaps you’re in the midst of finishing your first iron-distance race. Perhaps you’re finishing your first couch-to-5k program. It doesn’t matter. Crossing finish lines can be monumental for folks.
I read an interesting thread on Slowtitch today about folks’ reactions to completing their first iron distance triathlon. Granted, the athletes that typically post on Slowtwitch are slightly more jaded than folks that post on other triathlon boards; there was still some commonality in terms of how people reacted to crossing the finish line.
Reading the posts on that thread caused me to think about and remember how I reacted to finishing some of my milestone races. How did I feel when I finished my first marathon? When I finished Ironman Florida? Heck – when I finished my first triathlon in general?
I ran my first marathon in 2009. The race was 26.2 with Donna – the National Marathon to End Breast Cancer. My time was slow – but I did a marathon! I was giddy! I sprinted the last 200 meters as if I had not run at all. I high-fived folks. I was so excited! Basically, I could not believe that I had finished a race of that distance.
When I finished Ironman Florida, I had a similar reaction – but there was more of an emotional investment in finishing that distance for me than some might have had. Just eight weeks prior to IMFL I had DNF’d at Ironman Louisville just eight miles shy of the finish. Coming into the end of the race in Florida, and knowing I was going to actually finish, I experienced similar feelings that I had when I finished my first marathon. I was totally stoked! I thrived on the cheering, the “atta boys”, the “you look great” comments. It was as if I was floating through the last quarter-mile.
Here’s the really interesting thing – at least for me. While I may not get as giddy when I cross the finish line of any “normal” race as I did with those two examples above, I still get really excited to finish! I really enjoy racing, and I totally enjoy seeing a finishing chute come into view. I seem to always take a moment to straighten out my visor, to pull my race number to the front and to zip up my singlet. I always find a way to kick into the finish, no matter how poorly I felt during a race.
My most recent example of doing this was at Rev3’s Half Rev in Anderson, SC earlier this month. I had a pretty difficult race – especially on the bike. I was not on pace to achieve the time I wanted to, but I was on pace to earn a pretty sizeable personal best. I struggled in the last mile prior to the finish, but yet as I came into the last quarter-mile I began to feel better. I crossed the finish line feeling absolutely great, with a smile on my face.
For me, crossing the finish line of a race is one of the biggest factors that motivates me to race. I absolutely love the experience of finishing.
How about you? What are your milestone memories from finishing a race? What kind of race was it and why was it special?