The recent womens Olympic marathon trials finish in Los Angeles was both frustrating and inspiring for me. The event was nationally broadcast live for the first time, so we could witness the front of the pack gutting out the last four miles -- including Amy Cragg desperately pulling along her fading friend and teammate, Shalane Flanagan, grabbing water for her, slowing her own pace and encouraging Flanagan with words we couldnt hear. Even after shed left Flanagan, Cragg continued looking back to encourage her. Like many watching, I was inspired by Craggs selflessness and sportsmanship.Cragg won the race and Flanagan finished third, ensuring both will compete in the 2016 Rio Games. The finish-line shot of Cragg catching Flanagan in her arms as her legs collapsed brought tears to my eyes as I remembered how many women have helped me through races and workouts and how many have caught me at the finish line. But I also couldnt help wondering, Would a man work so hard to pull along a teammate?I could hear my fathers frustrated voice in my head, speaking to me after a high school cross country race in which Id admitted to feeling guilty for beating a friend. Why?! hed exclaimed, baffled. Dont wait. Its your race. Dont think twice next time. Just pass her.Athletic marketers might argue women-only races have increased in popularity because they offer an empowering environment. But I think competing against women can create more stress -- especially when youre competing against women you consider friends. Ive found through both racing and coaching others that women feel (or are made to feel) guilty after leaving a female friend behind in a race. On multiple occasions Ive stood with friends on starting lines negotiating whether or not to run separately.For years as a running and triathlon coach, competitive athlete and linguist, I have struggled with a perceived conflict over how competitive drive and female friendship can safely coexist. I was struck when a friend and former Division I runner recalled her college coach saying to her, Some days I think all I have to do is to get you girls to hate each other and then youll run faster. While, sadly, this may be half true, surely there are healthier ways to develop a successful team. That, combined with my feelings about the marathon trials, made me want to better understand the dynamics of female friends in competition.My friend, my competitorWomen are taught from a young age to help, cooperate with and be empathetic of others. When I was 4 years old, I learned that being bossy was wrong. Then, 10 years later, I was expected to be a boss on the field, taking control and beating my female friends on the track. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in her keynote speech at the 2006 WNBA Celebrating Inspiration event, said, There is a special place in hell for women who dont help other women. But how do you help someone if you are trying to beat her?I think women have to be confident in their own?failures and?successes in order for friendships to exist outside of?competition, says Erica Allar, 30, a pro cyclist from North Carolina. They have to understand that failures and successes in?competition do not define individuals as a person or define a friendship.I didnt understand this as a high school runner. Whether my friends liked me or not heavily influenced my performance -- not the reverse. On more than one occasion I hesitated passing a teammate in a race, fearful that girl might hold it against me, which would create a rift in our friendship at school.When I began running cross country my freshman year, I consistently ran with one sophomore girl during the 5k and then outkicked her at the end of each race. During one race, sensing my desire to pick up the pace, she instructed me, Not yet, Amanda. Dont go yet. I hesitated for a moment, then I heard my fathers voice insisting, What are you waiting for?! I ran ahead. Later, I heard shed passed out on the course and had to be driven by ambulance to the hospital. I felt horribly guilty. Over the next two years competing with her, I never beat her again. And I never tried.Fearing this response to competition could seep into other areas of my life, my father sent me to a sports psychologist. He helped me address the negative self-talk that was destroying me before I toed the line.When I began coaching cross country and track at DePauw University, my father gave me a book hed read when I was in high school, Games Girls Play: Understanding Young Female Athletes in Competition. The book describes a study of 115 professional tennis players, in which females were reported to be more affected than males by self-confidence and fan behavior.Road and mountain runner Melody Fairchild, a two-time Olympic trials qualifier and eight-time national champion, sees that in the performance of young women on the high school cross country teams and camps she coaches.Their identity is so tightly wrapped up in how others see them that they let that get in the way of performing their best, says Fairchild, 42, who was the first high school girl in the U.S. to break 10 minutes for two miles. My running was a pure expression of living with heart. And Im still wildly curious to figure out that magic key to help these young, altruistic women find a way to feel comfortable giving the best of themselves.A delicate balanceThe difficulty in balancing friendship and performance is something Sara Kadlec, 31, can attest to in her own training. If I feel better than expected at a workout I had planned to do with a friend, I wouldnt think of leaving her or running ahead. Id stay within the controlled pace we had planned to run. But when Ive discussed this with men, they think this is absolutely absurd. Its a workout, theyll say, youre supposed to go hard.Holding back is not something one would associate with Kadlec:?Shes a new mother, physicians assistant in neurosurgery, national podium-placing ski mountaineer and sub-three-hour marathoner. And yet, its something she might do in a workout to preserve harmony with a friend.When developing intimacy and maintaining a level playing field are traits young girls learn early, how do adult women separate competition from friendship? For me, it was about learning how to separate myself as a competitor from myself as a friend -- a skill that took me years to master.I wish at 15 years old I could have compartmentalized my relationships with competitors like pro mountain biker and college professor Becky Edmiston, who says in a race she encounters three groups of people: Women I dont know and I want to beat, women I know (whose friendship I value) and I want to beat, and women that rub me the wrong way and I want to beat.Edmiston says she trains with and encourages her friends. If I find myself passing a friend I might tell them to come with me. But Im not waiting around for them.Pam Landry, a sports psychologist and coach at The Athletes Edge in New Haven, Connecticut, finds herself working with many female athletes who struggle to balance friendship and competition. She says complications can arise when feeling guilty is associated with caring -- an association many women have been taught to make. The underlying implication behind this logic is that in order to be a good person or friend, Landry says, you must show you care by feeling guilty and then prove it by conforming to the perceived needs of those around you.Landry asks her athletes to rewrite the script in their head by asking themselves, What am I afraid of when I run faster or improve more than my friends? Disapproval from others or myself? Fear of failure or success?Another way to remain objective during competition is to tell yourself, No judgment, just execution. Landry says. Once this cue becomes an automatic pre-competitive response it helps the athlete to avoid letting feelings of friendship for their fellow competitors override their competitive drive.The goal is to teach the athlete that being the better performer does not make you the lesser person. It simply means that youre actively pursuing excellence.What Ive learnedCommunicating your goals before a race can help maintain a friendship, says coach and researcher Joanna Zeiger, who finished fourth in the triathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I ran the 2013 L.A. Marathon with [close friend and training partner] Colleen De Reuck. At Mile 17, I knew I was fading. Rather than let her wonder if she should wait or go, I told her I was struggling and that I would see her at the finish line.Ive adopted that policy of communication in my own friendships with fellow athletes as Ive grown. Recently, at the start of a long run with a group of friends, a very talented and competitive woman in her 30s said, Im feeling slow today. Dont wait up for me. I could tell she wasnt feeling 100 percent, but her silent treatment when she returned from the run, after trailing us the whole way, made it clear she had expected us to, indeed, wait up for her. I didnt feel guilty this time. I reminded her of what shed said and she accepted some responsibility. After eight years of training together, this was an overdue step in the right direction for our friendship and success as athletes.Healthy friendships and competition can coexist in the presence of confidence, honesty and direct communication. These are the traits that made for such a compelling finish to the marathon trials, and theyre what will make me root for Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg even harder at the Rio Olympics.Amanda McCracken is a Boulder-based writer, runner, and coach. 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Darren Helm scored on Detroits sixth attempt in the shootout and then Jonas Gustavsson stopped Andrew Shaws shot, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.WASHINGTON -- If the Washington Wizards are going to win their first game of the season, avoiding another late collapse would be a good step.Also on the to-do list? Trying to slow down Toronto Raptors scoring star DeMar DeRozan when the Eastern Conference foes meet in Washington on Wednesday night.The Wizards opened the season with back-to-back losses, including Sundays 112-103 overtime setback at the Memphis Grizzlies after leading 96-88 with under four minutes remaining. Grizzlies center Marc Gasols 3-pointer with 15.7 seconds remaining tied the game at 100 and Washington faded as Memphis opened the extra session with 12-0 run.We let it slip out of our hands. We didnt play a great game, guard Bradley Beal said after Washington fell to 0-2 in Memphis. I think weve just got to figure out a way to close out games. We had a chance to win. In overtime the first couple minutes are crucial and once youve got that momentum, its pretty much a gut check. They got a big lead on us and we couldnt score and they won.Washington fell at Atlanta on Thursday 114-99 after the Hawks outscored the Wizards 33-19 in the fourth quarter.DeRozan hasnt trouble scoring in Torontos first three games, including depositing 33 points in Mondays 105-102 home win over the Denver Nuggets. Signed to a five-year, $139 million contract this summer, DeRozan became the first player in Raptors history to open the season with at least 30 points in each of the first three games.Point guard Kyle Lowry added 29 points and put Toronto (2-1) in the lead for good with his first of two field goals over the final 96 seconds.dddddddddddd.DeMars been great. His offensive (game) right now is unreal, Raptors coach Dwane Casey told the Toronto Star. Kyle stepped up (Monday) and gave him a little boost.DeRozan is averaging 36.0 points while shooting 52.7 percent from the field.Weve got to maintain that and not wear that out, but hes been doing a great job, Casey said of DeRozan.Thats not something many are saying about the Wizards perimeter defense. Washington is allowing opponents to shoot a league-high 47.4 percent from beyond the arc. Memphis sank 15 of 31 3-pointers.We have to guard the 3-point line, first-year Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. Thats what the league is about. You have to be able to do two things. You have to guard the 3-point line and protect the paint. The good teams do that every night.We are building to be a good team and we have to be able to do that. I have a lot of confidence in our guys to do that but its just going to take some time but nobody waits for you. We have to expedite that as soon as we can, but we have to be able to guard the line and the paint. DeRozan averaged 26.5 points against the Wizards as the Raptors swept the 2015-16 season series 4-0. Washington knocked Toronto out of the 2015 playoffs in four games.Three-time All-Star John Wall, who had two knee surgeries this offseason, leads the Wizards in scoring (17.0) and assists (11.5), but is averaging 5.0 turnovers per game. ' ' '