I'm panting. 'This is is hard work, I want to stop, I want it to be over... Oh well, at least I'm not last...'
I look over my shoulder; 'oh god, I'm last... But... I wasn't earlier; there were at least 3 behind me before...'
They'd dropped out, quit; why? Because they couldn't carry on, or didn't like where they were in the field?
I wouldn't quit, no, I couldn't quit; my dad was in the crowd, how could I live with myself if I quit in front of him?
I was 15, running for the school in the cross country team - the 'weakest link'. It wasn't always like that, but it seemed in the last 6 months to a year the other boys had all had a growth spurt - I hadn't.
On I plodded, and approached the finish line, a cold, clear last in the pack. My dad decided to run next to me for the last 50 metres or so. 'A sprint finish isn't going to save me this humiliation, or running with my dad next to me' I thought.
I crossed the finish line, I didn't run for the school ever again after that experience... I didn't draw from it the lessons I perhaps should have.
That day will forever be etched in my memory - I should have used it as a confidence boost to will myself to keep with it because I didn't quit; I had the guts to see it through even though I knew I was the 'slowest' and 'worst' runner that day. Instead I walked away from running, and exercise in general until my university days in my twenties, which I'll forever regret.
My school actually finished second that year in the cross country; despite my last place finish, or because I managed to finish and provide a full compliment for team numbers? -I'll never know, but sometimes, finishing last doesn't always make you the worst, sometimes finishing last is ok...