Sunday, October 13, 2019

Fire and Rain

Dwayne wrote a book before I met him and he's re-written it many times since then. It's almost not even the same book anymore. The working title at one time was "Fire and Rain". It's a really good book but not why I'm writing this post.

Yesterday I ran the Monte Sano 15K. It's the third time I've run that race, but this year there was a totally new course. In 2011, the first time I ran it, I finished in 1:24:49 (9:06 pace). (I raced it as part of my training to run my first marathon. Just a few weeks later I raced the Huntsville Half Marathon in 1:56:30 (8:54 pace).) The following year I ran with a friend and athlete I was coaching as part of her training plan. I think we finished in something like 1:35.

Yesterday I was thrilled to finish it in just under 2 hours (just over a 12 minute pace).

In Dwayne's book there is a part where a village gets completely decimated by a fire. Two of the villagers are awakened the next morning by raindrops hitting their faces.

Yesterday as we were waiting for the race to start we heard a rumor...the race was going to be delayed by about 20 minutes because there had been a fire on the course that was going to alter the route. My first thought was the poor people whose house was on fire. I didn't care much about the race at that point. But since I'm not a fire fighter, there wasn't anything I could do to help put the fire out. It wouldn't help that poor family if I decided to get back in the car and go home. Just moments later it started to sprinkle rain. As a race director I really felt bad for the RD...fire and rain on top of having to run on a new course this year, on top of it being the coldest day we've had since like April. Poor guy.

Race directors are first and foremost problem solvers. Sure there are hundreds (if not thousands) of details to attend to in order to pull off a race, but the main duty is to solve problems. Cooler weather and rain isn't really an RDs problem (at least not for a 15K...a longer distance race has to deal with issues like hypothermia-for your participants and volunteers). Fire on the course is a MAJOR issue-you not only have to reroute the runners, you have to make sure everyone is on the same page (police, aid stations, split timers). About 20 minutes after the originally planned start we found out they were returning to the original course, but about 15 minutes or so later still.

I had asked Dwayne to run with me, to pace me to a faster finish than I would have had if I were alone. I signed us up before really thinking about the fact that he had not run longer than about 4 miles since he broke his ankle (in May) and I had not run more than 5 miles since like April. I signed us up when I was feeling pretty spunky. I signed us up because the race was going to be on a new course and they were, for the first time ever, giving out medals!! (I'm all about the bling!) But by the time race morning rolled around I was really nervous. Would we be injured? Would I even be able to finish? I've been EXHAUSTED lately. Like bone weary tired. (Auto immune fatigue is unlike any other fatigue you can ever even imagine unless you've been through it.) Was a silly medal even worth it? NINE POINT THREE MILES.

Then there was the fire. Then there was the rain. (Okay, it didn't really RAIN, it sprinkled...and it didn't last long.)

After some announcements that could not be heard by anyone except the runners in the very front, the gun went off and we were moving. I had told Dwayne I really wanted to run 3 minutes walk 1minute...no matter what. But just as we started he suggested that, because the course is rolling, we should keep that interval, but also run any downhill. I begrudgingly agreed. I had to laugh because I remembered telling my friend/athlete that her plan was to charge every UPhill and coast flats and downs.

As we started my left shin started complaining. I knew I just had to stretch it. I didn't do ANY kind of warm up and I had not run in over a week. Heck, I had not done any real exercise in over a week because I had been traveling. I knew once I warmed up it would (probably) be just fine.

We started playing leapfrog with the other intervalers. Dwayne was certainly pushing the run pace faster than I would have. I didn't look until just now, but our running pace averaged about 10:30-11/mile. My left foot hurt...like felt like it was on FIRE...my legs got seriously tired...my left glute muscles felt like they were on revolt. I felt dizzy a few times. I seriously doubted if I would be able to finish...but only for a fleeting moment. I've never quit a race I've started. (There have been races I haven't started, but I've never quit.)

The course was really fantastic. It's rolling and winding and you are almost always seeing the runners who are ahead or behind you. I kept telling myself that my A goal for next spring is to run a faster Knoxville...but as I was running I felt silly for even setting the goal in the first place.


In Dwayne's book the two villagers who survived the fire were completely changed by it. The rain the next morning was like a new fresh start for both of them. But it's not like they just left their old lives behind, forgotten.


I'm not going to lie...I'm still holding on to my "old life" (pre brain disease). That life when I trained hard and was able to set goals and race. I keep thinking that I will get back to that athlete I was. I just have to be patient. But the truth is, just like in Dwayne's book...I really need to start accepting that I won't ever be the same. When we were waiting for the race to start yesterday morning, we didn't know what was going to happen...would the course change? How long would we be delayed? Would it rain harder?  There was no reason to believe the race wouldn't happen, it just might not look exactly like we expected. There's no reason to believe I have to give up "training" and "races" but I need to start realizing I am dealing with a new reality now.

I've seen fire and I've seen rain. I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end. And I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend. But I always thought that I'd see you again.

It might seem silly...but I'm sad.  And, at the same time I'm not fully ready to let go of what I want. I want to compete. I want to train. I want to have a faster Knoxville. I want to finish IMChoo 70.3 in May in under 6:30. I want to compete in another IM. I want to BQ. I want to run a 50 miler and a Hundred.

I just don't know what's the right thing to hold on to.

I think the answer is to be patient in the not knowing. To keep looking forward (not back) and to keep pressing onward. Just like in yesterday's race. I didn't know what might happen, but I knew I wasn't going to quit.

I actually finished quite strong. I was able to push the pace the last .1 mile from a 9:30 pace down to an 8:14. That doesn't make me sad at all.



Thanks for stopping by and sticking around.

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