Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rocky Raccoon Race Report - Part 1

I had started a race report for Rocky Raccoon the Monday after it transpired, but it got lost in the fast pace of my life.

Working out the last day or two, the notion of writing a few words about the day and the total experience began to resurface in my mind.

It is necessary therapy for me to work through some other issues in my world.

And it allows for me combat some of the negativity and self-doubt that has come through some challenging - for me - times.

The world would say that I wasn't a success because I dropped at mile 52.2 fifteen hours into the race, but it really truly was a great day.

Why? Well, my closest friends were involved.

What more could you ask for in a crew besides my lovely daughter, Waverly, and my best friend, Bill Dwyer. If you were going to do something challenging, they're two of the best people to have on your team.

I had two pacers - John Laskowski (for miles 60 to 80) and Michael Young (for miles 80 to 100) -- lined up with the type of temperment that was necessary to push through a feat like that.

Neither would be offended to hear me say that they weren't my initial choices when I first signed up in May or June of last year, but life presents changes for all of us.

I had calls from and communications to a couple of good friends in Rebecca Massie and Kim Hager. The call from the former was a total, but welcomed surprise at about mile 40, if my memory serves me correct, and reaching out to the latter was simply a sign of respect to someone who has respected me as a friend over the years.

After I dropped in the middle of the evening, Mary Carter (her daughter, Faith, had been there earlier in the day), John's step-daughter Jackie Graves and Leeann Rosser and her husband, Jim, were there to support me in friendship. Something I really appreciated and meant a lot to me.

Although the one moment that I hope I'll never ever forget was in the middle of the second lap as I crossed the main park road, near Interstate 45. There, of course, was Bill and Waverly, but more importantly, at that moment, was Jim Braden of The Woodlands.

My friends are my friends for different reasons and some of them, like Kim, have had the chance to do some pretty neat things athletically, let alone in life. Kim, for example, competed in the 2004 United States Olympic Marathon Trials in St. Louis, Missouri.

What Jim once did is something few people, I'm sure, have ever done.

In 1990, he not only finished the Western States Endurance Run - a 100-mile journey from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California that represents itself to this day as the granddaddy of ultrarunning, but also won his age group at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

He often jokes that he's a "has been who never was", but to have somebody of Jim's stature and credibility make the drive up the Interstate to cheer you on and support you is something I hope that I never forget.

A few days before Rocky, Jim had e-mailed Bill to see if I was still planning on toeing the line. Bill had told him that indeed I was.

Although it almost didn't happen.

Immediately after the Chevron Houston Marathon, my 7th overall, which came a week after finishing the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, Mississippi, I had said, "No more."

The 14 marathons had taken their toll on my body. Too much.

But sometime the following Saturday, the emotional tide had started to change.

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