Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lessons from the Port-a-Potty (and it's not what you think)

I love the weekends. Most normal people sleep in and have coffee cuddled upon their couch while reading the newspaper or watching TV. They might venture to the farmer's market or take a stroll down the hometown street for coffee at Starbucks.

I have NEVER been "normal".

The alarm went off at 600am (I have a brand new alarm clock thanks to Santa) and I proceeded to hit the snooze button. I rolled over and went back to dreams of Lord only knows what. The next thing I heard was my phone ring that I had a text message. My friend Beth sent a simple text that she was "on the road." On the the 5k race we were Winter Park (that is about 10 minutes from my house).....that starts at 730am. Local time: 635am!!


I jumped out of bed, let the dog out, put on my running clothes, grabbed a hat and a race belt for my phone and car key and flew out the door to my car. My Golden Retriever looked perplexed...and hungry. "Sorry're gonna have to wait for breakfast!" and I was gone.

I made it to Winter Park by 655am and found a parking spot about a mile away from the start. I met up with Beth and some other friends as I made my way to the staging area. My next obstacle? I had not picked up my race packet yet. I found my number, got in line and watched as people start heading for the start line. I got my packet, put on my number, Beth helped me with my timing chip and we got to the start just as they start singing the National Anthem....ahhh...I can relax.

Well...not exactly.

It hits me...all of a sudden...that I really needed to find a portapotty. I thought to myself "Its 3.1 miles..I can deal with it". The gun went off..and off we went...and that's when I knew...I COULDN'T deal with it. I went off the road and directly to a port a potty. I toilet paper. I check the next, and the next and the next...finally the 6th one was stocked. I took care of matters and headed back for the road....6:30 minutes after I went across the start line!!!

I came out to the road to find myself basically alone. I always joked that someone had to be's not a joke now. I thought about abandoning the race. I thought about cutting the course. I thought about a lot of different options but the only one that appeared to be the right option was to GO...and catch up!!

So there I was, running down beautiful Park Avenue in Winter Park Florida...alone..and determined. For a brief moment, my mind imagined a dark road and an Ironman mile marker saying Mile 23. What would I do then?? I broke into a faster run...and made my way down the avenue and around the corner. I could see the end of the race with casual walkers making their way. I was determined to catch them...and I did.

Once into the group, I started to set my sights on catching people ahead of me. I would focus on their jacket, or backpack or design on their shirt and pick them off one by one. Before I knew it, a mile was gone and I was still in the back but I was definitely far from last.

Mile 2 arrived and we were in the heart of the million dollar neighborhoods of Winter Park. I grew up riding around these streets on my bike as a kid imagining owning such a beautiful home. The owners were now out on the road cheering us all on.

I continued to pick off people and make my way. Finally we made the turn back to the start and I felt great. "It's just a 5k..I thought to myself.." but I see so much in this little race.

I came down the road with the finish in site. My friends were at the line cheering for me and wondering what in the world must of happened to me...but you do what you have to do. I crossed the line with a P.R....if you remove the time I was in the portapotty.

We can learn so much from such small things in this world. It is in these times that I know I had amazing parents that taught me right and wrong. It would have been easy to turn and head home when I didn't start with the group. It would have been easy to just cut the course and make my way up to my friends...but neither of these options would have been the RIGHT choice..the just choice. I learned a lot about myself as I made small goals and achieved each one as I past another person. So should ALL things be in life...achieving the small goals leads to the greater things we all dream of.

No big finish...but today's lessons are just as precious as a ribbon and medal around my neck.


Kendra said...

Nice job on picking those people off and making the most of the event!

By the way, expect the portapotties to be out of toilet paper on the run course at IMFL too. :( There was plenty in T2 but next time I need some at mile 11 or so, nada!


I remember showing up for a race in Houston late 10 years ago or so. The adrenaline always gets pumping doesn't it? I too, made my little goals along the way, just to pick people off. The way I figured it, I wasn't going to win anything anyway, so why not just enjoy the event... plus I had one heck of an excuse if anyone asked about the time.
You made the right choice. Congratulations.

Hassan said...

Great post! I do the same thing when I run some days. “This is the last 3 miles of the Ironman and you have only 25 minutes to make it before the cut off.” Stay motivated! Looks like you made the right choice and took something away that was bigger than a PR.