Lessons Learned in the Back of the Pack


I did something hard a few weeks ago. I signed up and completed a half marathon. I had considered it for a few years and decided this would be my year. If I did not sign up now, then when would I do it? There would always be reasons for me not to do it, and the biggest reason was that I was scared. I was scared of not finishing or scared of being last.

About halfway through the race, I realized I was in the back. I glanced around and saw a man holding a sign that said Back of the Pack. I turned around, and there were not many people behind me. I’m not sure what happened because I saw hundreds of people behind me just minutes before, and now I felt like I could count them. My heart dropped. I did not want to be picked up and unable to finish the race. It was important to me that I finish, and it was even more important to me that my kids see me finish. I picked up my pace and made it my goal to be in front of the man holding the sign.

While nearing the finish line, my husband and kids were screaming my name. I had tunnel vision and didn’t hear or see them. A couple beside me told me they thought some people were trying to get my attention. I was so focused on finishing I almost missed the most special moment of the entire race. I saw my husband with his phone out, screaming my name, and my kids cheering me on. I later learned that my daughter had picked some weeds and was screaming that she had flowers for me. I almost missed a beautiful moment because I was so focused on the end.

Even if you never complete a half marathon, there are plenty of times in life when we are at the Back of the Pack. It could be professionally, personally, or in our journeys in motherhood. We’ve all had the feeling of being behind or having to fall into the dreaded last category. While it didn’t feel good at that moment, it was the learning opportunity I needed. I realized that I’d been in the back before, but I didn’t stay in the back. Resiliency, patience, and grace are learned in the back. I’m new to running, and the half marathon showed me how much I still have to learn about myself as a runner.

One of my biggest takeaways from completing a half marathon is that even though I was in the back, I still finished. How many people can say that? Next year I plan to do it again. I will train better. I will wear much better socks to ward off the nasty blisters, and I’m fully confident that I won’t be in the back of the pack, and even if I am, that’s ok.


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