March 31 – Run 58/71
Location: Greenwood, MS
Weather Notes: Sunny, low 60s to start. High 70s to finish.
Gender Place: 165
Age Place: 21
The weekend started Friday after work when Princess and the girls (Lucy and Hazel) picked me up from the gym for the drive to Greenwood. The drive was pretty uneventful, we had country on the radio and the dogs in the backseat. Elizabeth entertained with stories of growin’ up in the Delta – playing in bundles of freshly picked cotton, floating the river (takes 5 and a half hours) – Southern country life at its finest, all while Hazy and Lucy napped in the backseat.
We went straight to the Alluvian Hotel to pick up our packets (which ended up just being our race number, safety pins and shirt) and ran into Becca. Pickup was relatively quick and easy except that Princess knows everyone in this town – seriously, we couldn’t turn a corner or change rooms without her sayin’ “Hi, how are you” (don’t forget the southern accent on there) to someone new.
Our trip continued on to her house where we were greeted by the Queen herself. She went above and beyond the call of hospitality and had the pizza-making works set up for us.
I had to have special assistance from the Queen with my dough – not the first impression I wanted to make. I put ham, pineapple and green peppers on my pie.
We loaded our plates onto bamboo trays and took them outside to a beautiful outdoor kitchen overlooking the river (that same one that takes 5.5 hours to float).
Queenie couldn’t stop talking about how excited Greenwood was to host us and that all the homeowners along the course had been receiving letters in the mail, asking them to please make sure their lawns were properly manicured for all the racers. After dinner and playtime with the puppies, Princess and I set out to drive the course. We made it about 4 miles before boredom kicked in, along with some intense dizziness. The course was flat, as promised but I think we turned about every 5 steps. And serious turns, right angle turns. Guess you have to with a town that’s so small to get all 13.1 miles in.
We met up with Becca on race morning and lined up at the start. Princess, Abby and Anna were all goin’ in the 5k while Becca and I chose the half. All the racers started out together. The announcer made the call to the start line, asking the elite runners to come to the front. “How do you know if you’re an elite runner?” he asked. “If you have to ask yourself that question, or if no one’s ever told you that you are, you’re not.” By that definition, we are not classified as elite and stepped to the back of the very small pack.
You’ll remember I decided I would help pace Becca to a PR. We started off great, she said she felt pain-free and strong. There weren’t many runners around us but we weren’t alone.
We started slowin’ down and the sun started to get to us. I could tell we might have some trouble when Becca said “Remind me why I do this again” – somewhere in between mile 2 and 3. I laughed and gave her her reasons and we trudged on. I could tell she was havin’ a hard time so I tried to stay encouraging, pulling out tricks I use for myself. We started dedicating each mile to someone important she could think about to help pull her through. And then, shortly after mile 3, the race became less about the PR and more about survival. I’ve said it before in some of my posts, but it’s tough to learn first-hand as a young runner. You’re going to have some bad races. It doesn’t matter how much preparation you put in – it all comes down to that single day – the weather, your body, your mind, can all work against you. So we walked and talked it out for a bit – I told her we had to run, walk or crawl to the finish but giving up was not an option. We were on our first significantly straight stretch for a while, and passing beautiful homes – including one seen in The Help!
Grand Boulevard was named one of the ten most beautiful streets in the country and it certainly was! We weaved through some more neighborhoods and soon were passing in front of the Queen’s house (a pristine yard, too!). Princess and Abby were there and we ran over for high fives – they had finished their races and I asked for their times. I was blown away by their twenty-something responses! Both girls were shooting for just below 30:00 and beat that goal by minutes (must be TNT). We continued on at a run/walk pace just chattin’ and talking about whatever. By now it was plenty hot and we were focused only on finishing (and not further injuring her knee). Well that all went along fine until somewhere in the last 4 miles. We were approaching a house with a man playing a piano in his driveway (course support along the entire race was INCREDIBLE!). I was distracted by the clear glasses of orange juice lined up along the top of the piano. Really I was deep in thought wondering if they had champagne in them, and if they were for runners. Becca was distracted by a giant cooler full of ice with water bottles. We both went for the cooler and I managed to take her down football style – ducked in front of her to reach for the water, she didn’t see me and kept running, tripping over me and hitting the ground. As if the day could have gotten any worse….we laughed and trudged onward. It was tough but soon we were back in town, crossing the bridge to the finish.
We made it – running to the finish, all smiles. We got our medals, I checked off another state and most importantly we didn’t give up. I was so happy to have been able to help Becca get there, I had that favor provided to me in my second marathon – the tears came and I had no idea how I could run 9 more miles. We walked, I cried, and dad just said, “We’ll get there”. We made it and I’m glad I sucked it up and finished. Sometimes you just need that push. Your mind can be a big enemy and if you’ve got someone else there with you, it can be fought. The most important thing is that she’s feeling good mentally again, we have a new plan for her running (heal the knee first!) and we turned a potential disaster into a beautiful morning run past some houses with families in front that seriously looked like they were pulled form a Lily Pulitzer magazine. And after some food in our bellies, first aid for the wipeout, the pain and doubt is behind us and we’re ready to run again. I’d say put that one in the W column.
Overall a delightful stay in the delta, a very charming town with friendly and positive support and a tough mental race that every runner must experience at some point.
Happy Sunday 🙂