Sorry it has been a while since I have written. I was sick for a few weeks with the Noro Virus and then headed straight out of town for the Run with Donna Marathon for Breast Cancer Research. When I got back things were instantly focused on a new medical diagnosis, more about that in a later post, so I didn’t have much time to process, or write about, what had happened at the marathon. Now, I am back – it is time to tell you about my first ever DNF.
I knew going into the race that it would not be a great one. I had a lot stacked against me:
1. I had been sick with the Noro Virus for the last two weeks and had not been able to do anything but lay in bed and get ill. I started to feel a bit better on Wednesday and finally felt like a human on Friday, two days before the race.
2. My fatigue issues are still very severe and they limit my training even when I am healthy, I just don’t have that push – I am always exhausted.
3. My training SUCKED – with all my medical drama I only worked out about 2 times a week instead of the 5/6 I used to do.
4. I had been struggling on and off with tendinitis issues in my left foot ever since the NYC marathon and was not sure how this would affect me come race day.
However, my last 18.5 mile long one was a really good one and I felt strong. I was sure that if I could do that I would be able to manage the full marathon with the inspiration I could draw from other runners and the race like atmosphere. Plus, I had no time goals for this race. I just planned on taking it nice and slow, listening to my body, and making it to the end. (All my training runs were right at a 12 minute per mile pace.) Plus, I had never not finished a race I started – my stubborn determination usually gets my through no matter what.
So what happened? How did I end up with my first ever DNF?
I knew that the Noro Virus had weakened my body a bit over the last two weeks, so before the race even started I gave myself permission to drop down to the half and make that turn if I needed to. However, when mile 7 came up and the half marathon crowd turned (a large percentage of the people) I was still feeling great so I kept on going.
About mile 12 I started to feel a bit weaker so I found a pace group and latched on to them for support and motivation. This strategy helped for a bit and I was able to stay with them until mile 16ish and then they started to get further and further away as I began to feel weaker and weaker, not just normal marathon fatigue, something different. At mile 17.5 the stuff hit the fan – suddenly it was like all the energy had been sucked out of me and I was so weak I couldn’t run any more. In addition to that I was also feeling light headed and dizzy which was very scary. I didn’t think I was dehydrated as I run with a 1.5L CamelBak full of Nuun Hydration and drink it throughout.
I managed to walk a slow mile until I came to an aid station at mile 18.5. The medical crew there talked to me and what they told me was that there is a big difference between being healthy enough to go to work and healthy enough to run a full marathon. Basically, after having the NoroVirus for an extended period I just started feeling better on Wednesday and just returned to what I would say was normal 2 days before the race, it wasn’t enough time for my body to recover and be strong enough for the marathon. They said I could walk the almost 8 more miles to the finish, but they highly suggested I take a ride back to my car instead and I listened.
I didn’t cross the finish line. I didn’t earn a medal. Instead I was left with my first ever DNF.
In hindsight it would have been much better to turn at mile 7 and complete the half marathon. To finish a race, receive my medal, and not push through 18.5 ugly miles, but at the time I didn’t know that and there is nothing I can do about that.
A DNF is a strange feeling – like an uncompleted goal. Something that should have been, but wasn’t. A race t-shirt stuffed in my closet I will never wear. A black mark on my list. The awareness that you do not, in fact, finish every race you start.
However, it is also a reality. Some say it is a rite of passage as a runner. Others tell me that in order to reach the peak you have to know what the bottom feels like. And from here, the only way is up.
Do I regret my decision? No, my body wasn’t healthy enough for a marathon. While I may not like how it all worked out I know I did the right thing which helps. So cheers to my first ever DNF – may you be my first, my last, my only.