Last Place

by Beth Gulley


Volunteers had already started cleaning up when my son, Israel, finished swimming the 800 meter freestyle last Friday night. By most people’s standards last place is a terrible spot to end up, but Israel took four minutes off of his previous time. In fact, if there was a prize for the most improved swimmer at the meet, he would have won it hands down. Israel didn’t let the fact that he wasn’t going to win keep him from getting in the pool.


I’ve noticed that people often use not being the best at something as an excuse not to do anything. For example, I have a friend who wanted to be able to run a 5K, but because he got winded walking around the block, he just quit trying. He wanted the results right now or not at all. Israel, on the other hand, has a different goal. He wants to see improvements in himself. If those improvements don’t lead to winning, that is okay too. He has achieved his personal goal regardless of his place in the race.


A road race in Kansas City, Hospital Hill,

recognizes that people at different fitness levels have very different goals. Most of the people who run the race will not “win” or even “place,” but many of them will achieve personal goals like completing their very first half marathon or beating their time from last year. To support those at the back of the pack, Hospital Hill chooses two special people to walk the half marathon and to intentionally come in last. As a result, anyone who chooses to attempt Hospital Hill instead of staying on the couch will not have to finish on their own. I love the way Hospital Hill respects the goals of anyone who has the courage to start the race.


Don’t let your skill level keep you from doing something you really want to do. If something brings you joy, then you should do it. Change your objective from winning to improving yourself, and get in the pool.


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Posted by admin on Jun 25 2012. Filed under Beth Gulley, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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