Y’know what I’m excited about?
Tonight I get to go to the 2014 Milwaukee Fight For Air Climb Awards Celebration!
…as a guest.
You see, I wasn’t actually invited. While I did take 10th place overall at this year’s Milwaukee FFA, I didn’t qualify for any awards.
I’m going, though, because I’ll be accompanying Stephanie, who’s being recognized for placing second in the Female 30-39 age group. She also finished as the third-fastest female overall. (I’m not sure if she’s being recognized for that or not, though.)
Stephanie deserves the acknowledgement she’s getting for how fast she finished this year, and I’m excited to be there to see it. When we first climbed in this race last year, she finished in 9:03 (127th place overall, 23rd among all women, and 9th female 30-39). It was our first stair race ever. In the year since, we’ve both climbed in several other races and have trained hard to get better at this — especially her.
This year she finished in 7:34, which in addition to how she finished in her AG and among all women, ranked as 14th overall! That’s a 113-place leap! I remember how excited she was when she printed her time slip after the race and saw that not only did she finish sub-8, she was WAY UNDER sub-8.
While I’m truly excited for her improvement and that it was good enough to be recognized, I’m also a little frustrated I don’t get to go on my own merit and that I won’t come home with any sort of medal or anything. Even a bootleg printout with some wack clipart saying, like, “Good hustle, kid! But you can do better!” would be cool.
In no way am I frustrated about my performance or my time, as I improved, too. I went from 8:01 last year (41st overall, 36th place male, 13th male 30-39) to 7:21 this year (10th overall, 8th place male, 4th male 30-39).
In a race of 2,367 people, that’s pretty good. But since they appear to be giving awards to the top 3 fastest in each age group, it’s that “4th male 30-39” that’s frustrating.
This is probably one of the only times anyone’s ever said this, but: it sucks to be a man in your 30s. For both running and stair climbing, the male 30-39 age group is one of the two most competitive age groups to be stuck in. Basically, I’m just another decent runner/stair climber among my peers. Nothing spectacular. The bottom line is that unless I can improve to, and perform at an elite or near-elite level, or only compete in small, less-competitive races, I’m not too likely to come away having been given a pat on the back or a thumb’s up from any sort of race awards people.
Look, I get it: that’s the way it is. You can’t give everyone awards because, well, that’s just dumb. But plenty of people I’m way faster than will be getting awards. In fact, there will be more people receiving awards than people who actually finished faster than me. Let me repeat that:
THERE WILL BE MORE PEOPLE RECEIVING AWARDS THAN PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY FINISHED FASTER THAN ME.
Excluding team awards, if the top 3 fastest individuals in every age/gender division get an award of some sort, that means 46 people will get awards (there was only one woman in the 70+ age group). A total of only 9 people finished ahead of me. Of those 9 people, all 9 will be getting awards.
Realizing that you’re the fastest finisher not to qualify for any sort of award sort of adds to the sting a little.
In talking to my dad about this, he was quick to point out that in NASCAR, while the top 12 drivers each year qualify for NASCAR’s equivalent to a real sport’s playoffs (get it? because NASCAR’s not a real sport!), the 13th place driver comes away with a $1 million consolation prize.
Whether he was rubbing it in, or saying I should get a consolation prize, I’m not sure. I don’t want a consolation prize — I mean, umm, well, I would take a $1 million consolation prize if someone gave it to me, of course — but I just don’t want to repeat this.
I’m more than happy to go tonight and support Stephanie. I’m her biggest fan when it comes to her working to achieve what she wants to achieve. So when she achieves, I want to celebrate with her. But next year I want to go because I finished fast enough to get invited.
So, even despite my improvement this year, I still have some work to do to get where I want to be.