If you didn’t read my last post, click HERE to read Girls’ Weekend Part 1.
While it was unspoken between us, I think AC and I shared the belief that we might cross the finish line in an ambulance. The reason for this pessimism was the lack of training for both of us. We were completely unprepared for the distance we were each running (10K for AC, half marathon for me), yet neither of us wanted to back out of the race. AC had been running 2-3 miles when she would run and I kept holding on to the belief that running a 10 mile race 2 months ago somehow meant I was prepared to race 13.1 miles. It wasn’t like us to be unprepared, but life had gotten in the way of training these last few months. It happens.
Even though the race started at 7 AM, the heat was sweltering and the high humidity made race conditions that much more difficult. By mile one AC was overheated and feeling nauseous. We alternated walking and running and stayed together for the first five miles. I talked the entire 5 miles (this time without significant amounts of caffeine in my system) to try to divert her attention from the overwhelming feeling she wanted to vomit. I think it worked.
These five miles we stayed together, AC would regularly interrupt my monologue to coax me to run ahead and leave her. While I briefly thought maybe AC was encouraging me for the silence it would bring her, I knew she simply wanted me to have an opportunity to feel good about my race results; AC didn’t want to feel like she was holding me back. It was thoughtful of AC to be concerned about my race experience, but running ahead would not be enjoyable while worrying about her health.
I was even more confident I made the right decision when we were finally forced to split at the five mile mark (10K runners split from half marathon runners to finish the race) and I was running alone. There was a constant stream of ambulances and numerous runners were being tended to by EMTs as they had passed out on the course. I know I would have worried about AC the entire race.
In a duathlon I competed in a few months ago, I realized how my perspective on racing had changed as a result of my separation. Again in this race, I was cognizant of a change in me. A few years ago I still would have been a good friend and stayed with AC if we were in a similar situation, but I would have been disappointed with my overall race results. I would have felt like I trained hard and didn’t have the final race time to match the effort I had made in preparing for race day. That would have really bothered me. Instead, enjoying the race experience with a special friend and supporting her when she was struggling was worth more than any time on a clock when I stepped over the finish line.
At times it is difficult, when standing in a storm, to see anything positive in the experience. There have been times in the last year and a half when I have tried, but failed, to identify any promising outcome from the end of my marriage. Reflecting on my race, I was able to identify something valuable I have learned from this painful experience.
The separation has taught me to appropriately prioritize in my life.
This race wasn’t about the time on the clock, it was about the time with a friend.