Thursday, June 1, 2017

Cotton Row...What Do YOU Want? What Do I Want?

Race morning...(written race morning before I left)

Well, let me back up (pun intended, that will make sense after this paragraph). Last night my gut was FULL. I had not really pooped all day long. I am a fairly regular pooper so I was not feeling the best. When I went to bed I looked about 7 months pregnant. I actually prayed that I would poop well in the morning.

I should have prayed for sleep.

I woke up at 1. I don't know if I actually went back to sleep or not but I looked at the clock again at 2 and then at 3. I got up about 4. My head was pounding and my stomach didn't feel great. But when I went to the bathroom, I had MAJOR success!!!!

I'm sure my non-runner friends are grossed out about right now, but my runner friends know exactly what I'm talking about!

This morning I'm planning on starting the race with at least 2 friends, maybe 3. We are going to have a conversation before we start about expectations, needs and goals. My goal for that conversation is to be honest. I want to run well more than I want to run with friends. I really enjoy running with friends, in training. I don't really enjoy running with friends in a race. To me it's a race. I honestly believe all three of them are running better/faster than I am right now. What I'm really hoping is that they are running just faster than I am and that they can and will spit my words back at me and pull me through rough patches. And maybe I can pull them through rough patches. But some people don't want to be pulled through. I was completely willing to not race if either of them told me they really wanted company on this run, but I wasn't willing to give up my race if they didn't really care one way or another. In order to know, I need to have a conversation, an honest conversation about what I need and want and what each of them needs and wants. So that will be the first order of business.


(Written today, Thursday after the race.) As soon as we got to the race, Dwayne left to do his own thing and I went off to say hello to the bathrooms! I swear, I have to pee like 20 times on race morning. I think it's just adrenaline, but it never fails!

About 15 minutes before race start I connected with my friends. Two of the three were there, and one extra, I found out later the original number three had overslept.

Let me back up and tell you how this running with friends thing all started...

Remember Bilbo? She was one of the friends. She had been running with a man she has adopted as her dad in several races leading up to this one. He ended up being hurt so she told me a few weeks ago she was probably not even going to do it. He runs much slower and she had not really trained to do this race. I told her she should just run with me. She in turn encouraged another friend who said she wasn't going to do the race to do the race after all. Then that friend talked to another friend on race morning. The night before the race yet another friend (the original number 3) posted her goal. I "KNEW" I couldn't make that goal but I told her she was welcome to at least start with us.

Back to race morning. I found out Bilbo and Number 2 had been training with run 1/walk 1. (Number 3 had no intention of staying with us, she was going to take off pretty much right after the start.). I have been playing this little game when I run. It's a little too complicated to explain, but basically it means I am running by feel. I might run several minutes before I walk, or I might run 1 and walk 3. It's erratic and not really the best thing for someone who has trained her body to walk/run to a set time. I asked them how important it was to them that we stay together. Friend 2 said she did not expect to stay with us. Although she had been running about the same pace as I had been running, it's stressful to try to stay with other people. She said not to worry about her at all.

Bilbo told me it was her NUMBER ONE priority that she not hold me back. Second to that she didn't want to cross the finish line alone. I pushed and pushed her because I really thought that deep down she really wanted me to stay with her the whole time and she was just unwilling to say that. I even told her that's exactly what I would do if she said that's what she wanted most. But she kept telling me that wasn't the case. What she wanted most was to not hold me back. I finally decided to listen to her. We played leap frog until about mile 2. I played my little game, running a couple of minutes and then walking a little. She stayed true to her training-1/1.

Fairly early on we met up with my brother. He's not my real brother, but I've adopted him as my brother. He's a race walker, and darn fast. The three of us leap frogged around each other. I think it was about mile 2 brother and I pulled a little in front of Bilbo. Brother was just ahead of me, until we got to Mountainwood. AKA "the hill". Brother said he was going to run up it, and I was NOT. So he pulled way ahead of me at that point.

Because of my little game I ended up running the foot of the hill to the Mile 3 sign and then walked the rest of the way. When I made the right turn I just kept walking, running maybe 1 minute until the turn onto Bankhead. I started running and saw Brother waiting.

He has had issues with his knees and should NOT run but he does every now and then. He came out to run the last 3 miles of a 50K I did back on New Year's Eve 2014. And he ran again with me Monday. We chatted going down Bankhead. I was talking about CPR and he was admonishing me that CPR wasn't an appropriate topic in the middle of a race. When we got to the bottom of Bankhead I remembered that I really wanted to run my best race so I told him I wasn't going to talk anymore so I could focus on running a little faster. He picked up the conversational slack and started talking more. About bacon and steak and pulled pork and bologna (yuck). He is a meat lover in case you couldn't tell. My mouth was watering and I started planning what I might want to eat after the race. Then he said "PIE". He makes the best pecan pie every year. One year he gave me one to give to Daisy. I wouldn't have given it to her except he TOLD HER it was coming!! PIE. That made me pick up the pace just a bit more. I started thinking "run faster and you can have a piece of PIE"!!

Of course I wasn't saying any of what I was thinking because I really couldn't talk at that point. I wasn't completely spent. But I was struggling and I really couldn't/didn't want to talk.

We turned the corner onto Clinton and I was sad not to see Daisy out there shaking her tambourine like she did last year. (I found out later that she overslept.) I started expecting to see Dwayne any second coming back to find me. We were getting close to mile 5 and he still wasn't there. I began to worry just a bit. But then I looked at the time. It was right at 54 minutes.

My A goal was 1:20. I realized I had right at a mile and a half to go. 16 minutes. My average pace at the moment was right at 11 minutes/mile. I thought I was going to be darn close to that A goal if I could keep running at this pace, or maybe speed it up just a hair. But I wasn't sure I could hold it. I was very fatigued and I was really struggling.

About that time we saw Brother's daughter. We passed her and Brother held back, but then I had to take a walk break at an aid station. They passed me and he told me to stay with them. I said I needed to walk a little more (my game requires me to change only on the top of a's silly, but it's helpful in a strange way). When I started running again, I caught up with Brother but his daughter was just ahead of us. She wanted to stay in front of us. And at that point all I wanted to do was catch her.

But I was on the STRUGGLE BUS.

We turned at the square and then back onto Clinton and I really worried about Dwayne but I pushed that out of my mind and focused in on my target who was still JUST ahead. I started planning my move and shared my goal with Brother who started planning with me. 

And then she did the unthinkable. She started pulling ahead. Like it was easy. Like it was effortless. Like it was nothing. Like she was out for a Sunday jog. 

I knew right then I wouldn't catch her. I was giving all I really had to give. I mean, I could give a little kick-let at the finish (maybe) but she was really pulling ahead and we had not gotten to the mile 6 flag yet. Brother told me if I wanted her I needed to pull the trigger and go for it. I told him I just didn't have it but told him he should go after her, which he did. 

Seeing them running together almost took my mind off the effort I was pouring out. And then I saw the row of flags and pictures of fallen soldiers. About that time I heard someone cheer for me. When I saw who it was, I threw the water bottle I had been carrying over to her and tried in vain to catch Brother and daughter. It was no used. They had pulled too far ahead, and I was running on fumes. 

I felt like I did that very first year coming in to that final stretch. I thought I just might pass out. I'm sure my finish line picture shows my eyes as slits. But I gave it all I had and crossed the line completely empty.

I was so thankful to see a good friend at the finish line. She congratulated me but I couldn't talk for a little bit. THAT is such a great way to finish a race!!!!! I grabbed a bottle of water and turned to go back out on the course to find Bilbo. Although I was really worried about Dwayne I had not gotten a text so I was sure he was okay. I ran down Clinton until I saw Bilbo running toward me. She didn't seem very happy to see me, but she told me she was on the same bus I had been on. She walks SO DANG FAST I had to job beside her to keep up. When we got to the finish chute, I ran to the outside of the fencing and ran in "beside" her. 

I was so very proud of her. As I said, she has been running races with her "dad" and hasn't done one by herself in a very long time. She finished STRONG and she looked really good. She didn't feel good and she wasn't happy with her time, but she had just finished a 10K, that she ran mostly alone. I was so very proud. 

I almost went back out to find friend 3 but I figured she wasn't far behind Bilbo, and at that point I really wanted to find out what happened to Dwayne. And, I had a swim lesson to get to. I found out that Dwayne had finished and went back out to find me but he made a mistake. He thought he could take a shortcut and get to me quicker. I was running a bit faster than he expected. By the time he realized it, I was way too far ahead for him to catch me. 

I'm pretty sure this was my slowest Cotton Row ever. I JUST missed my A goal (by a handful of seconds), but I never expected to make even that so I was THRILLED. I had an honest conversation with a friend about wants and needs and I listed to what she said instead of trying to figure out what might make her happy. I was honest about what I wanted and I didn't sacrifice what I wanted just to try to make someone else happy. It was a VERY GOOD RACE DAY!!!!

This is truly one of my favorite races. I am already looking forward to next year!! I'm hoping to be back in better running shape, but even if I'm not, I know I will learn another life lesson. :D

Thanks for stopping in and sticking around.

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