Finish Strong. Limit your effort if you need to, but always finish strong.
I was brand new to road cycling. It was windy day and the ride was kicking my ass. I was finished but we were still miles from the end of the ride. Time to pull over and flag down the SAG vehicle (support that helps with problems or carries you to the finish if you need help, or just give up). I was on the give up train and couldn’t care less.
Just then a friend rode up beside me, he was a strong rider and on his second loop of the course. It was apparent I was struggling, if I rode any slower I would just fall over. He started chatting. Inane conversation, nothing I needed to focus on, but it got my mind off of my pity train. After a couple of minutes, I told him I was tired, this was too hard and I was going to stop and catch a ride back. Perfectly reasonable reasoning to me.
“Nope, you have less than 5 miles to go, just keeping peddling slow”. Duh, nothing else was going to happen. He kept chatting, I kept peddling and we were down to 2 miles to the end of the ride. I started believing that I just might finish this ride. Actually, I had to. No one sags 2 miles out. My mind quit focusing on quitting and started thinking that the end was in sight. I could do this. It was going to keep sucking, but I wasn’t a quitter like I had thought.
A half a mile to go! Thank goodness. Then, he said “it’s time to sprint. You always have to finish strong”.
WTF? There was only slow peddle, no sprint left in me, no way, nope.
He looked at me and said, “Actually, we ARE going to finish strong, start peddling hard”!
And I did.
It couldn’t really be called a sprint. But I did give it all I had. I was yelling “finish strong”, at the top of my voice and couldn’t care who heard. I was way past worrying about what anyone else might think. I had only myself to please. I put my heart and soul into it.
I was gasping “finish strong” as we rolled in.
And that is when the shift occurred.
I HAD finished strong. I had found strength I didn’t know I had. I had met a side of me that I really, really liked. She was strong and she was tough.
She may not have been fast, or a particularly good rider, but she was someone who found strength deep inside when there wasn’t any.
She was the kind of person I could call on when the chips were down, the launch wasn’t working, the race was hard but I was going to finish.
Today, when I catch myself flagging, lagging, or ready to quit; Finish Strong is my mantra.
To the people watching from the outside I may be slow as I cross the finish line but in my mind, I am strong and that is all that matters.
Join me. It could be the last 1/10 of a mile of run, the last day of a launch, the end of a ride or the last rep of your weight set.
Dig in, say hi to her and remember – every time I finish strong, I finish stronger.