My First Marathon: DNF

There were a lot of reasons why this was a bad idea to begin with. There were a lot of things that happened before this race that kept me from being as prepared as I could have been, a lot of things that happened the days before, and a lot of things that happened the morning of.

There were a lot of factors that just screamed “This is not the time to attempt this” and in hindsight… I should have listened.

Hindsight, they say, is 20/20.

RED FLAG #1: Dad was in the hospital. This shouldn’t have stopped me, but reality was… it did. My Dad has taken such a drastic downward spiral since his diagnosis in September that knowing he has been admitted to the hospital again doesn’t carry the same meaning as it used to when it was about his heart. Instead of being “What happened this time?” like it used to be with his heart, it became “OMG – What’s wrong? Is he okay? What room are you in, we are on our way.” And no matter how many times you tell me that there isn’t anything I could have done to help, I wanted to be there for my Mom. Family is important to me, and knowing he was in the hospital didn’t put me in the right frame of mind to brave this race.

RED FLAG #2: I woke up with a migraine. The good news is it wasn’t on the back left side of my head like the others have always been. It was an ocular migraine, over my left eye. I could barely open it. Throughout the night as it got progressively worse, I got up to take things to try and kill it. Advil at midnight. IBprophen at 2:30am. Finally at 4am, I took my one and only Maxalt, got back into bed and almost started crying. When the alarm went off at 4:30am to get ready to go, I was still lying in the same position I went back to bed in: One hand over my left eye curled up on my right side in a tight ball. It took another hour before the head pain lifted enough for me to function and see properly.

GUYS, YOU CAN SKIP RED FLAG #3: I got my period… and the runs. I wasn’t sure it was my period when it all started. Dad was diagnosed with C. Diff on Friday, before the race. It’s a highly contagious intestinal disease, and for 12 hours prior to getting this diagnosis… I was already starting to experience abdominal cramping and diarrhea. I just wasn’t sure what was causing it knowing that I was going to be getting my period at any time. So, when I was dealing with the runs and some spotting on Saturday before the race, I was sure I had gotten the C. Diff. The morning of the race? I was proven wrong. We weren’t even to mile 8 when the cramping got so bad that Brian had to give me some meds he always carried with him… and then some Imodium for the other issue. And then I had to stop at a porta potty because there was no way I was going to be able to run and hold it. I was miserable, dehydrated, and generally feeling like ass.

RED FLAG #4: The torrential down pour rain. The forecast called for 80% rain. When I talked to some of the weather people here, they said that it was expected to be late morning before the rain started to get real bad. An hour into the race the drizzling started. Another hour after that, the steady rain started. Less than 20 minutes after that: torrential down pour. It was awful: rain so hard it was difficult to see, it stung my skin when it hit me, and it was COLD. We were drenched, tutu and all. Then the chaffing started….

RED FLAG #5: Zero Training, duh. Let’s be real: my body knows what 13.1 miles is. My body has no idea what 26.2 miles is. I’m usually really good at pushing myself to do things, and finish things, regardless of what was going on…and I firmly believe that I could have pushed myself to finish that full marathon but not without consequence. I was already starting to feel deep muscle pain in my legs that was unusual and not what I normally felt when I ran. My stomach was a wreck, and I was gelling every 4 miles trying to keep my energy up. We were walking longer than our running portions were, and both of us were hurting. It was illogical to continue. (and if the muscle pain I am feeling now – not ache… PAIN – is a testament to anything, it’s to that I made the right call)

RED FLAG #6: Mental Game was just NOT THERE. And for obvious reason, but this one gets its own red flag. Because realistically, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was (and still am) stressed about work, stressed about Dad, stressed about not training, stressed about making sure things worked, tired from life and over all just burned out. My mental game wasn’t there, and it needs to be there for long races, especially first time trying them.

RED FLAG #7: Only 4 months post surgery? Yeah. That’s an issue. Because as much as I wanted to believe that can be one of those rockstar people who throw themselves back into something so quickly after surgery – I’m not. Because it was surgery on my head. And that messed me up as you all know. So yeah.

There are a bunch of other things of a personal nature that play into it as well, but the bottom line is this: I wasn’t ready. I knew I wasn’t ready to do that race and I still tried. I got a good 16 miles into it before I realized there was no way. When we passed the officer that said unless we could get 10 miles done in two hours, there was a good chance no one was going to be at the finish, I realized that it was over. At my peak, I was running 10 miles in 2 hours. Right now, I’m lucky to be running 4 miles in an hour.

I don’t feel bad about the DNF. Part of me thinks I should… but I don’t. This was the one thing that finally broke me – and the melt down that followed was one that I needed to have to handle everything. I was forced to face everything, to feel everything that I had been burying since September. And I know I’m not done melting down, but it felt good to finally get some of that emotion out.

So right now I am focusing on making it through the end of the year (which is less than 2 hours away, mind you) and starting anew in 2014. Tomorrow, look for a post from me about my goals and plans for the new year… For now. Enjoy what’s left of 2013 🙂

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2 thoughts on “My First Marathon: DNF

  1. Jennifer LE (@runningwithpugs) says:

    So many hugs. I saw you there, but didn’t get a chance to say hi. We were handing out medals at the finish and your friend came across the finish line. It looked like she was hurting and you were helping her out, so I didn’t want to intrude. That weather was absolutely nuts and awful. So many people were in bad shape when they came in. I don’t know how they did it.

    There will be other marathons, and you will be in a better place to conquer them. I hope 2014 brings great things for you. ❤

  2. Nick says:

    The release is exactly what you needed, and it took this race to get you there…so you did the right thing by starting, AND the right thing by stopping when you did. I’d call that a WIN, regardless of what official results may say.

    Keeping you, your dad, your mom and everyone in prayers. Love you, girl!

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