The Photo Finish

“Smile for the camera at the finish.”

I can’t count the number of times that have I seen that phrase on a race application or heard those words at a race? Nor can I tell you the number of my finish line photos that I don’t even recognize as being mine. I clearly recall looking at one marathon photo wondering who the old lady was in the picture; I was 27 at the time. Now, thanks to modern technology, race pics can quickly be deleted with one click of the mouse – not forgotten, but moved to the recycle bin (and, as if I ever want to see them again in any size or format).

This year, my race pictures have been, well, words really can’t describe them. At the end of one 10K, my greying hair suddenly turned white. If any of my students saw the facial expression at the end of a recent 5K run, they would never return to class, fearing that I would become the real teacher from the black lagoon. No matter how I run, my finish line pictures are, without a doubt, horrible.

This spring, at a 5K race in Toronto, my 8 year old decided to try out his new camera and took pictures of me running. The 2 side views and 1 back are awesome. You can barely see my face (if at all), my stride is strong and my muscles are ripped. Why hasn’t any “real” photographer tried these angles? Number 1’s pics were so good that he is now my official race photographer and, of course, he is under direct orders to only take pictures from the side or the back.

So the question I have is how do the elites do it? How do they muster up that energy to smile at the finish line. Here, for example, is Lisa Bentley, Canada’s Iron woman champ. She swam, biked and ran and she still has the strength to raise her arms over her head to smile at the crowd and the cameras. Me? I can barely find the strength to crack a smile. And they say it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown.

Well, this month with 3 races lined up, I’m set to go – and this has nothing to do with my training. On Thursday, I had my teeth cleaned at the dentist; today, I had colour added to my hair; I’ve already decided what to wear at each event. All I need now is for someone to tell me to smile.

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