Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cotton Row Number 7-Cashing the Check

Well...it's ironic that this is "lucky number 7".

Pre Race (written Sunday afternoon)

I just published my last post about the things I've learned the last six times I've run Cotton Row. Let me just say, working though the last six years has helped me a great deal. I've been torn about what to do tomorrow. There are always choices to be made, but the decision to run this race wasn't an easy one.

Not only have I been "sick" with brain disease (I think I say it to solidify it in my mind that it's a real thing), but there's another aspect of the decision as well. I don't want to gloss over my physical state of being. I have NOT trained for this race. I haven't run enough to say I'm physically ready to run a 10K. I have been terribly weak and any effort has been taking a lot out of me. That said, I like to think running a 10K won't be impossible.

I did STRONGLY consider surprising Dwayne and being HIS biggest fan tomorrow. I would tell him
Doesn't everyone love more cowbell?!
I'm running but have my cowbell and some posters in the car. When he went to the front of the pack to start the race, I would run to the car and then go find him on the course they way he did with me the first 5 years. It might throw him off a little bit at first because he wouldn't know what was going on, but I think he'd be fine and it might help him have a great race. But this is NOT an A race for him. I would be giving up a race that I really enjoy to support him on what amounts to a training run.

I have tried to weigh the cost of this race with the value of running it. The problem is I don't quite know what the cost will be. But, again, I can back off and walk any time I need to, and if it becomes too much I can pull out pretty much anywhere on the course. I'm never too far from friends who can rescue me. :D

I'm very excited to see that tomorrow will bring.

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Ironic.

After I wrote the above, Face Book reminded me of a couple of previous blog posts I had written. I "opened them in a new link" to read later but didn't read them right away so they were still waiting for me this morning when I sat down to do some work.

I'll come back to those posts tomorrow, but for now let me tell you about the race.

Dwayne and I woke up early, I took a shower (thank you to Katie for giving me this pre-race ritual). I was very calm and relaxed overall. Since I had made up my mind the day before to run it, not race it and not back out of it, it was just a matter of moving forward one step at a time.

We parked in our usual spot and then headed over to the VBC. I chatted with some friends, went to the bathroom a couple of times, listened to the pre-race stuff, saluted to Taps, sang as much of the third verse of America the Beautiful as I knew (well...I hummed it anyway), and the gun went off!!

Since I lined up pretty far back, it took a bit of walking before I was able to start jogging. About 1/4 mile in I started second guessing my decision. I quickly shut that nag down and just started thanking God for the opportunity to be out there running with so many people (there were 1862 finishers!). At about the 1 mile mark, maybe a little before that I got behind a friend whose call sign is "Tank". He had the perfect double time cadence and let me tell you, there's nothing more hypnotic than running behind (a) Tank with perfect cadence. I could have probably stayed there all day but he kept looking back, probably to see who the dead weight was he was having to pull! I decided that I wasn't really "running my own race" while being mesmerized by his metronomic feet so I moved over at the first aid station to fill up my water bottle.

As I was running up the little hill after the cemetery and before the left turn onto Owens, I saw a runner in front of me who was looking down. It's not a steep hill, but it's a rise for sure so we were both breathing heavy. I couldn't help myself...as I ran alongside of her I said "you'll get more air if you keep your head up". As I looked over I saw it was a good friend of mine. I'm going to call her H3. (I'll explain in a little bit.) I laughed and said "Hey it's YOU!!! I'm glad it's you because I was talking before I could stop myself. You will just laugh at me but a stranger might have spit on me for the unsolicited advice!!" She did just laugh.

Side note...when you run up a hill, run "proud". Keep your chest up and open and don't look down. You lose a lot of energy and a lot of lung capacity by bending over and looking down!! :D

For the first time ever on Owens I took the "low road". There are two sides to Owens and I have always taken the one to the left (the "high road"). It feels out of the way to move to the right. I won't do that again. I was watching my heart rate (well over the 150 goal I had set originally) and decided to take a little walk break (not my first one). H3 passed me by on the high road. Then I ran a bit and she took a walk break.

We got to the bottom of THE hill about the same time. She asked me if I was going to run it and I said emphatically "NO, but I'm going to start it". I had no intention or expectation of running the whole way, but as I got started I felt good. The theme from Rocky was playing and I passed the first mail box and then the second one...I got to the little "flat" section and I was able to pick up the pace a little bit. The last little bit is pretty steep and the thought crossed my mind that it was a little stupid to be running but I really felt like I could make it...so I pressed on. As I topped out the hill and made the right turn onto Tollgate I cheered for myself! "YES, I DID IT AGAIN!!!" That's two years in a row I have run the whole hill!!! Now if I can just do it in the middle of an actual RACE, and then keep running....

As I started walking I knew H3 had to be right behind me. I knew she would eventually catch and pass me but I wanted to stay in front as long as I could. I don't know why. It was stupid, but I started trying to run again. I couldn't keep it up so I started walking. As H3 ran past me I told her how good she was looking and to keep it up. She looked over her shoulder and yelled at me "COME ON DANA". I decided I would try to stay with her as long as I could.

As we were running down Bankhead H3 said she was going to back off the pace a little bit so I asked why. She didn't have a good reason and we were about to run up a little rise so she said she would keep going until then. We walked a little but and started running again. We talked and talked and ran and ran. Daisy just moved into a house on the course so she was out cheering for the runners and shaking a tambourine. That was a huge boost and gave me a pep in my step. We got to mile 6 and H3 said she needed to walk a little because her heart rate was higher than she wanted it to be. She told me not to walk if I didn't need to. I was feeling good and my HR wasn't "too" high so I decided to keep going. I figured Dwayne was surely going to be showing up any minute. (His plan was to race and then turn around to come find me on the course.)

I was right. Just seeing him makes my heart skip a beat. He asked how I was feeling and I did a genuine assessment. I felt surprisingly good. I was fatigued, but I felt good overall. He told me he finished in right at 50 minutes. (That was slower than he wanted to run.) He said he started out fast but faded bad in the last mile. The heat had really gotten to him. When we made the final left hand turn I knew it was about maybe 1/2 mile to the finish so I started running just a bit faster. Team Red White and Blue was out with the memorials to the soldiers and waiving the big American Flags. It always gets to me.

Dwayne ran with me to the start line and then said he'd meet me around at the finish. I pushed in and finished feeling really great. I didn't look at my time and I didn't care. H3 was pretty much right behind me.

So, why "H3". Well...because she was in the Army and she is very strong and she has lost weight since I've known her and she's reliable and dependable and indomitable. The Hummer is a strong Army vehicle that will go for days. The H3 is a lighter version of the Hummer. I hope she takes it for the compliment that it's meant. :D

Thanks for stopping in and sticking around. Part 2 of this (where I talk about why those two old posts matter so much) will be tomorrow....

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