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What do you think when you hear the word LAST?

One of our incredible and inspiring members, Wendy Mader, shared this with me and I wanted to share if with you. Wendy has transformed her health and her life by showing up, doing the work, and being consistent. Her story inspires me everyday, and I hope this inspires you as well.

What do you think when you hear the word LAST?

Do you think someone lost a race? They came in last in a game? They were chosen last for a team?

Just over a month ago I ran my first trail race at Alice Lake. It was an 8.5 km race (I swear it was longer) and the furthest I had trail ran was 7 km. I went in with the attitude that I just wanted to start and finish and however it looked at the end I would be okay with.

The race was more technical than I expected, the hills never ended and then came the downhill which I struggled with. At one point I stopped due to leg pain, popped an Advil and carried on at a snails pace.

One of the course Marshalls told me I was almost there and then the next one told me I had another km to go. I possibly argued a bit with them saying “that is what the last person told me”. I felt like the race would truly never end.

Well, I finished the race running across the finish line holding hands with my husband. We had decided to run our first trail race together even though he is much faster than me. It took me 2 hours and 2 minutes.

When I checked out the race results I saw that I came in LAST and I mean LAST in my gender, my age group and in the whole race.

For the weeks following when asked about the race I would say I finished it and came in last. I started to think about what LAST meant to me.

Did it matter that I came in last? Because I was last did it mean I didn’t train enough or wasn’t strong? No it mattered that I finished what I set out to do, what I trained for and what I had worked hard for (even on the days I didn’t want to train).

I was comparing myself to people who are younger than me and who have ran longer than me. Comparison is one of my enemies because it brings in self-doubt, negative thoughts and effects how I think about myself.

You may wonder where I am going with this. I ran another 8.5 km race a few weekends ago which involved running through a few creeks, a waterfall, a hill that would never end and then a technical area down a rocky path. I cut 24 minutes off my last time and I felt strong throughout the race. And I wasn’t last!

When I got home my friend sent me a picture of myself after I crossed the finish line. All I saw was an overweight person with a tummy and very sweaty. I told her how I saw myself and she told me she saw determination and a stubbornness that I would not quit.

It always shocks me how others see me compared to how I see myself. I realize I need to be kinder to myself and see what others see when they watch me finish a race knowing how hard I have worked for it.

So, don’t ever give up on your dreams because you don’t think you are strong enough or you are afraid to be last. We need to believe in ourselves and no matter if we are first, middle or last…guess what?! We all finished the same race.

Wendy Mader