Sunday, March 12, 2006

When a DNF becomes part of your life...

The race was going so well, I ran the first 10K in 55:14, a little fast but not too fast. I crossed the halfway mark (21K/13M) in 2:01:04, almost on schedule. But then I slipped on a patch of ice and my right foot felt a little strange. I stopped to stretch and kept going, slowing down slightly. At around the 25K/15.5M point my foot hurt, and both ankles felt like they were cramping. I walked through an aid station and drank some energy drink and ate a banana, then ran again. I made it a few hundred meters and got a painful cramp in my left leg. I walked it out and tried to run again, same thing. This continued for a couple kilometers until I was reduced to a fast walk. At the 30K point there was an aid station and I asked if they had any first aid personal – no they just left, they are at the 35K stop. I tried to stretch and message the leg again but it didn’t get better. I could only hobble when I ran, so I mostly walked.

I passed the 32K marker and saw a control van sitting on a trail crossing a few hundred meters ahead. I knew that I was faced with a hard decision. My time at this point was around 3:18:00, the race had a 5 hour time limit. For the past 5K or so, I had ran a total of maybe 400 meters. I was starting to shake from the cold (-1C/30F at the start of the race, with a wind chill factor of –8C/17F), and I limping already.

I decided to swallow my pride and call it a day. The two in the control van took one look at me and figured out I was in trouble. As soon as I sat down in the van I simultaneously had the worst cramps in both feet that I have ever experienced – I think I scared the poor driver, he asked me if I needed medical attention. But after a minute or two of messaging my ankles and gritting my teeth the pain subsided. About this time a second “patient” arrived, also experiencing cramps so they drove us back to the sport hall.

So this was my sad story about my first DNF (did not finish), I am kind of moody in the moment – kind of mad, sad and disappointed all at the same time. My wife is happy that I decided to quit, she said she could just imagine how I would be if I tried to walk the last 10K. It was her opinion that if I was already shaking from the cold when I stopped, then I probably would have caught pneumonia by the time I walked for over an hour and a half longer - hmm could be.

So nothing to do but keep going, a DNF happens sometimes. As far as I know at this point I did everything right, the training, the tapering, fueling etc. I will probably be running this race through my head about a zillion times over the next couple days, weeks, years – trying to figure out if I missed something somewhere.

But for now I am going to take a week off, regroup and then get started with my next project.

Why doesn't this make me feel better...

Jack, I know you must be feeling disappointed, but I respect your decision and admire you for being so wise. There are other races--but you must always take care of yourself. Hey you have the DNF out of the way now! Rest up...
Because you're Jack, and nothing's going to make you feel better except that next run. I'm actually proud of you for making the right decision, that's so not easy to do when you came as far as you did. Do you remember when I was pregnant, how I would have that horrible cramping in my legs and feet? *shudder* I was literally cringing and holding my breath when I read your story. It's hard to explain to people how agonizing that truly is, but believe me, I feel you Jack, and there's no shame in living through that. Not at all!

I think you're right about the fact that a DNF can just happen ~ but mix in snow and cold like that, and I wouldn't be surprised if there is a long list of people for this one who DNF'ed and/or didn't meet the time cut off. Think of all the people who saw the weather and stayed home!

I predict that you will not spend years worrying about what went wrong at'll gnaw at it until you finish your next marathon, perhaps, but then it'll become a one line sentence to support other people who have the same experience... "Oh yeah," you'll say, "I DNF'ed once! Everybody does!" And they'll feel so much better.
Oh Jack, I'm so sorry this happened to you! But your wife is right: you made the right decision. Just imagine if you had tried to finish and done some real damage. I know, that is "cold" comfort, but as Susie said, now you've got the DNF out of the way. Remember you have the entire RBF backing you up on how wise you are, and cheering you on for the next one!
I can tell you are disappointed, but you did the right thing. It takes more guts to DNF than to finish even more injured. Hang in there!
I'm really sorry to hear this, Jack. I know you've been training hard, and to DNF is very disappointing. You made the right decision though. If you had walked the last 10k, you would have been close to the 5 hours cut-off time, and what's the point in risking serious injury just to walk a marathon when you've already run one in the past? I hope it hasn't taken too much out of you, and you should recover fairly quickly from this.

Keep you head up.
I don't think anyone will fault you for making that decision. Our sharpest critics are usually ourselves. I hope that, in time, you will feel better about it. I agree with everyone else--it was the best thing to do under the cirumstances. Best of luck.
you showed true grit out there and that is inspiring (even though i know that is probably not what you want to hear), rest up and come back strong again. there are a very select few people out there running and training with your intensity and determinition jack, i'm glad i get to read about it cheer you on.
OHhhhhhh Jack!! Damn those ice patches!!! No fair!! Glad at least you didnt break anything!!
I think tonites dinner should be only cake!!!!
Everyone else has said it 500 times better than I can. It absolutely stinks. Stupid ice!!! Why couldn't it be warm enough for all that junk to be melted? You made the right decision, continuing to walk in that weather would just make you sick and prolong your return to running even longer.
No fun Jack. I'm sorry it didn't go as planned, despite your best efforts. You did the work to get there, and it will give you a head start for your next effort. Enjoy a little break, I look forward to you getting back at it.
Oh, no! Having to make a choice like that is no fun - but kudos to you for taking care of yourself. I hope you feel better soon.
Jack: As I look at my history, I try to stay focused. I mark each race and come back with a plan to better my time. In your case I would go back or document where you slipped. Next race if it was to occur get past that point and try to closer to or just finish healthy. I hope you know what I mean. It is not easy any way you look at it. AND IT IS EASY TO GIVE UP. You can't. We're all pulling for you. And the main theme to every runner is to stay healthy. With the health will come PR's!

God Bless, Keep the faith and roll with the tide!

Sorry to hear that you had to make a choice like that Jack. You are right there is probably nothing anyone can say to make you feel much better, but I certainly do not think it was your training. You seemed to put in a good sensible plan and it sucks it turned out that way. You deserve some rest and recovery. Try not to beat yourself up too much. Have a good week.
i dont know what you must feel having to have DNF'd... but i think you listened to your body, and in the end, probably saved yourself from doing more damage. its a hard decision, but i'm with everyone else... you made the right one.

take time to recover... physically, but also, MENTALLY, and then do your best to chalk it up to experience and get back up on that saddle!
Wow, Jack. *hugs* That was likely a hard decision and you did not make it lightly. The effort you made to continue was more than many.

Onto the next race, tis all you can do. Hey, I have a DNF as well. 2 years ago I was determined I would do all the 8k XC races, but what do I do? First race, 3 minutes in, I sprained my ankle and couldn't even drag myself back to the start/finish. They had to bring me out on an ATV.
ugh...tough break, jack. possible that you started cramping because you were favoring the foot after the fall? anyway, best to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the horse.

don't sweat the dnf, just like mia said, it'll be a footnote soon enough. and while it may be disappointing to dnf at a race, that's such a small portion of your running. small compared to all the joy you've had running all the training runs. it's not about the race, it's about the journey to get there.

keep enjoying your journey, jack.
Jack - you made a good decision with your head and you saved your body to go another day. Hey, how about Honolulu next?! I guarantee you will have different running conditions!
jack - what a wonderful and terrible story all at the same time!

But, you learn from everything, I'm sure. Next time will be better...
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