Saturday, October 6, 2018

Being Flexible-My first DNF

Photo by Ron Chaffin
In 2017 I was injured and unable to run any races. I spent last year recuperating and started training in early 2018 for the St. George Marathon. I've run this particular marathon 3 prior times and was hoping to get a PR this year. I put in more practice mileage this year than I ever had before and ran several several good half marathons so I was feeling pretty good leading up to the race.

Two days before the marathon I got sick. I had stomach cramps, nausea, and a head ache. I was up all night trying not to puke. I couldn't eat anything until lunch time the day before the race, so my carb loading efforts were thrown out the window. The morning of the race I was feeling a little better but still having stomach pain and felt weak. I was considering not running at all but I didn't just want to quit. I decided to run and see how things went.

As the buses drove us to the starting line it started to rain. It was a light drizzle but enough to get you wet after waiting an hour and a half for the race to start.  I found the 3:45 pacer before the race began and did a good job of staying ahead of him for the first 7 or 8 miles, but then I started getting stomach cramps again. I began to slow down and found myself walking for a few stretches after mile 10. I just didn't have my usual energy. It was much cooler this year, which was nice, but the rain made things harder than usual. By the time I got to mile 13 I decided I was not well enough to complete it. I may have been able to finish it with a very slow time but I would have taken a huge toll on my body and seeing how I would be participating in the Senior Games the following week, I didn't want to chance it.

The final straw that persuaded me to stop was when I looked down and saw I was pulling an Andy Bernard. I had two little blood circles around my nipples despite the fact I had applied plenty of Body Glide before the race. The rain and wet shirt had caused too much friction. I later noticed I was not the only runner suffering from this condition. I decided to call it a day and rest up and get better so I'd be able to compete next week.

I walked over to an aid station at mile 13 and asked if they had a shuttle. I was directed to a large white van parked across the street. I got on and saw about 16 other people on it who looked miserable. A few of them had elite runner's bodies, but looked like they were on death's door step. One guy blew his knee out and couldn't walk, some were cold from the rain. A few of them looked like they didn't know what to expect when they signed up and just weren't having any fun and decided to quit.

We all may have had different injuries, problems, or reasons for stopping, but one thing we had in common was that we were bummed out for not finishing the race. It was a very slow, somber, and quite ride back to the finish line. The depressing mood in the van carried over as we unloaded near the runner's recovery area but we did not cross the finish line, get medals, or get the usual post race food. Instead we just got to go pick up our bags and go home.

Instead of looking at this race as a failure since I got my first DNF (did not finish), I decided to look at it as having successfully completing a half marathon. My hat is off to all the runners who kept plugging away and did finish despite great adversity. Many of those people will be limping around next week, but the pain is worth the satisfaction of knowing they completed a very difficult task.

I respect all the runners regardless of their finish time for doing something hard. I also appreciate all the amazing volunteers who make the Saint George marathon such a great event each year.