“The last thing you want to do is finish playing or doing anything and wish you would have worked harder.”
A strong finish to anything is rewarding because you know you are giving it your best effort, that the hard work and effort are paying off and you’re ending something on a very high note. As outlined in the quote above though it can be hard to revel in a strong finish if you think you left something out on the field or didn’t give an initiative your very best effort. But just sometimes that experience can be an incredible life lesson. I’ll give you a personal example. (Thanks for humoring me by reading a longer post with a personal story.)
A few years ago I competed in Ironman Maryland. It was a tough training year and I wasn’t at my optimum fitness for an Ironman race. But my race goals were pretty simple.
- Enjoy the day. The race is the reward for lots of long training hours and I wanted to simply smile and enjoy every moment of the day.
- Given my sub-optimum training I wanted to simply break 13 hours. No where close to a PR but something I knew I was capable of doing.
- Finish the race… Always my 3rd goal in an Ironman race. You never know what is going to happen out on the race course. 12+ hours of endurance racing is a long day. (as an aside, when doing a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, & 26.2 run the real goal is always, “don’t drown, don’t crash, don’t fall down.”)
To keep from completely boring you with the details I’ll simply share that I had an amazing day and completely crushed goal #1. I don’t think I stopped smiling at any point, even when the effort was really really hard. It was a very personal and emotionally fulfilling event. But that’s not why I am sharing this story…
My finish time was 13:00:45. Yes, I missed my goal of breaking 13 hours by 46 seconds… During the last two miles of the run I knew it was going to be close and I picked up the pace. I was running as hard as I could during the last mile (aways easier with the crowd cheering for you) and was sprinting down the finish line chute. 46 seconds…
To put this in perspective I achieved 99.99903% of my goal. 46 seconds represented a .0009% point shortfall. Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely not. Is it even remotely important in life? Not in any way. Does it take away from the experience? No way, no how. However, I will never think of this race without a rue smile and know that I could have worked just a little harder and easily achieved the goal I had set out to accomplish.
Am I disappointed? Not in any way. But it was, and is, such a great lesson to me on the importance of giving your best effort no matter what, because if you fall slightly short, you’ll look back and know that you could have done better… Finishing strong means bringing your best every single day. 99.999% isn’t 100% done.