Saturday, June 9, 2012

DNF

I got my first DNF (Did Not Finish) today.

I slept well last night. I was in a great place mentally this morning. I felt GREAT for the first eight miles (nailing marathon pace with very little effort). Then the crazy headwinds started (and last for over 10 miles) and I hit a section of tough uphills. I was still doing ok with my time, but was working a lot harder than I should have been. At one point my whole body cramped up (which has never happened to me). I was fueling and hydrating well and went into the race well fueled and well hydrated, so I don't know why. (Some people were saying it was hot, but I thought the temps were great and I never felt too warm at all). I walked for a very short time to try and regroup, and got to running at my goal pace again, but the whole cycle just kept repeating itself.

But the third time it happened, I noticed that my left hip was feeling sore. (This is not something that has ever bothered me before). I tried to run through it, I tried to stretch it, I tried to walk it out... nothing was helping. My hip hurt worse as I went along, even when I tried to walk, but it hurt worse when I ran and the rest of my body just felt awful too.

Despite that, I was still doing a pretty good job staying mentally in the game. I was hoping to negative split, and even though I was a little behind on the clock, I was confident I could make it up. I kept telling myself over and over that it was "my day" and it was "my race", and I kept thinking about a bunch of the encouraging things that Josh had told me. I kept reminding myself that it was supposed to be hard and it was supposed to hurt and that it would pass and I would feel better.

But things just kept getting worse. At mile 16, I gave up. My hip hurt. My body felt awful. My time goal was out the window, and as badly as I wanted that medal and as much as I had sworn up and down that I would never not finish a race, I knew in my head that even though I could finish, it would not be the smart thing. I knew that I would likely be turning the beginnings of an injury into a full blown injury. I knew that there was little to gain and much to loose.

So I walked.

I would have gotten in to a shuttle right then, but I didn't find one until the aid station at mile 23. At that point I had walked most of 7 miles (occasionally I ran a little just to see if it magically felt better... it didn't). It was demoralizing and frustrating to walk.

Walking for seven miles in a race you thought was going to be a huge PR and a huge breakthrough race and a big stepping stone to your goals leaves you lots of time to think. (Mostly not good stuff).

I kept worrying about Josh and the kids and knowing that they were worrying where I was. When the race clock hit 3:15 and I knew that they all knew that I hadn't hit my goal, and I knew they were all anxiously watching for me, I cried.

I kept thinking about how much is sucked that Josh and the kids were waiting to cheer me on at a finish line that I wasn't going to cross. I finally had my family waiting at a finish line for me, and I couldn't get to it.

I kept thinking about how much I had wanted to make everyone proud and how bad it felt to suck.

I kept thinking about how Josh had told me over and over and over that I was going to "be amazing" and all I could think was "Definitely not amazing". 

And, in case you are wondering - as much as it sucks walking in a race and getting passed by hundreds of people and having crowds cheer at you to "Keep it up! You look great!" it sucks a million times more when lots of people recognize you while you are walking in a race and getting passed by hundreds of people.

I was so close to the finish when I finally found a shuttle at the EMT at mile 23 that part of me thought I might as well just keep walking and finish, but I knew that the extra three miles of walking were not in my best interest in looking at the big picture of my running.  So I gave up the really cool medal to try and do the smart thing, with hopes that it will benefit me in the future.

In the shuttle I had a guy tell me that I must be a marathon weather "jinx" since I got the hot hot weather in Boston and then the crazy headwinds today. Gee thanks!

It was just a rough day. Rough physically, rough mentally, rough emotionally.

I was going to wait to write this until tomorrow, but I know if I wait I won't be as honest and raw as I am right now... so these are my honest, unfiltered thoughts and feelings.

I am not sure what now. I am not sure what the deal is with my hip. It is definitely still sore, although not anything that is forcing me to limp while walking and it is only sore when I am walking (not when I am sitting).

I am sure that I have the MOST incredible husband, family, friends, and support system. (THANK YOU for all of the texts, facebook messages, phone calls, etc.)

I am sure that I am not giving up on my hopes and dreams and that I will not let today discourage me for long.

And I am sure that I am sleeping in tomorrow, and taking a day off from running.

To end on a positive note, THESE GUYS all rocked the kids 1k. Shane won by a nose, Ben was close behind him, and the younger crew represented well. They got "real" race shirts, numbers, and ribbons and are all feeling pretty big time.  They all loved the race (and Marcus was having a blast despite the look in this picture). My kids rock. :)



61 comments:

Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

Erin, what a hard decision to have to make during a race you trained so hard for. I have heard before about how marathons can break your heart, but I think there are lessons in all of them. I think you were smart to call it a day and not injure yourself any further. I hope you heal up soon and are on to the next one soon. Hugs. You are still an amazing incredible woman to me and to many others.

engineergirl said...

Erin, I still think you are amazing, your journey is awesome and your training is inspiring! I do hope that your hip feels better very soon.

Big Daddy said...

I love you babe. Super much.

bobbi said...

Oh Erin...so sorry that it went down this way. I hope you are feeling ok and that this hip thing wasn't anything major and that you are back at it soon.

You are amazing and inspiring. I hope yoou get your day soon. Hugs!

Raina said...

Oh, Erin. You are a brave woman, and I hope you held your head high- despite the negative. Even just blogging all of this, while still fresh, is an example of your courage.

Just know that you have let NO one down. What has happened has happened...but you will be a stronger runner, coach, woman, and believer for it.

My best wishes for a full recovery,
R

Suz and Allan said...

I can't even imagine how tough it was for you to make this decision but I know that God has great things in store for you. Hoping the hip pain goes away soon! Your kids look awesome in their race shirts and bibs. I know you guys are so proud of them!

Mummy Loves to Run said...

My heart goes out to you. That was a character building experience. You will come back stronger than ever because that's who you are.

I hope your hip recovers quickly.

Thank you for sharing your journey with the world. You inspire me daily!

Jlern1 said...

I am so sorry Erin. I said a prayer for you this morning, and I will continue to lift you up in prayer. I have experienced the disappointment you are going through (as have most runners), and I know there is nothing I or anyone can say that will make it better. You are and will continue to be an inspiration to all of us!
Jenny

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

I know exactly what you mean by saying you vowed never to DNF. It's not in our personality. It's just not us. But when it jeopardizes the future races, then it begins to look different.

My heart goes out to you for having to accept the DNF, but I'm proud of you for recognizing it was time to bail out for the long term goals.

Best of luck recovering (I've got a hip issue I'm working through myself). We'll see you back out on the courses in no time I'm sure.

KaeBee said...

Erin,
This post...this is why I follow your blog. This is why I have been encouraged to believe I can start running and get faster. This is why you are an inspiration. Because you are honest. Running is hard and you never tell anyone that it is not.

I'm so sorry you had a heartbreaking race. I am looking forward to hearing how this race becomes a part of your story on the road to the Olympic trials.

Blessings, Kris

Paul said...

Oh, so sorry about that. but a very wise move to DNF ....let that hip recover and figure out what happened.

Better to run healthy than plow yourself into the ground when things are lined up your way.

There are many more marathons ahead of you if take care of yourself!

Nicole @nmh1970 said...

Erin, so sorry that you had a terrible race day. And "you" did not suck. The conditions, the circumstances, etc., did. You rock no matter what. Time to rest, give yourself a break mentally and physically and regroup. I feel for you, what a tough way to end this grueling training schedule, when you've been nailing all your workouts. Take it easy on yourself. We are all still cheering for you.

Terzah said...

I am so sorry, Erin. I was at a b-day party with Ruthie and had checked the Twitter feed for word of you before we left and was worried. Remember what Chumbawamba say--"I get knocked down....BUT....." And remember what Emily Dickinson says: "We never know how high we are/Till we are called to rise." You will be back--sleep in. Regroup. You are such a smart runner. When you bounce back, you will be stronger.

Anonymous said...

Erin--thinking of you! You are still THE BEST!. Rest up--you'll get there. xo xo SPD

Bill Fine said...

Sorry to hear about your DNF, Erin, but you had to listen to your body. Giving your hip injury time to heal will afford you the opportunity to PR sometime in the future, but it definitely stinks to have to go through this.

Hope you recover soon and keep posting times that an old plow horse like me could only dream of! :>)

Elly said...

Erin, I'm so sorry to hear about your race. Such a hard decision you had to make but it sounds like it was the right one. You're still my hero :)

PS - your kids = adorable!

Elly said...

Erin, I'm so sorry to hear about your race. Such a hard decision you had to make but it sounds like it was the right one. You're still my hero :)

PS - your kids = adorable!

Elly said...

Erin, I'm so sorry to hear about your race. Such a hard decision you had to make but it sounds like it was the right one. You're still my hero :)

PS - your kids = adorable!

kathrynellen said...

Erin, I cried when I read this and I don't even know you.

Everyone is proud of you, no matter what happened! As your blog yesterday said, you trained hard and hit every workout and every pace. You deserved a PR today.

It didn't happen and you did the most courageous and wise thing by making the decision to stop.

I admire you even more now!
Take care of yourself!

Allison said...

Erin, I am so sorry. There is just nothing that you can do when your body gives out though. You were smart to take the DNF even though I know you're crushed about it. Just plain sucks.

I hope that your hip heals up quickly. Big hugs.

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Thank you for sharing these honest thoughts. Hard to read. You showed true courage and strength today - not the kind you expected to show but perhaps something even greater. And you ARE awesome. Never ever doubt that. Love the pic of the kiddos - how fun for them! Hang in there, friend.

Mark Matthews said...

Well, my jaw dropped to read the blog title, but you handled it with the same grace, humility, and priorities you've always had. It's crushing, but certainly hasn't crushed you.

Amanda@runninghood said...

YOu are so genuine Erin! So so raw and vulnerable and REAL. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I love how you take life as it comes...the good and the bad. Sorry to hear about this Erin. Such a tough day and so much to process. Looks like you've got a good start at the processing and it sounds like you have a great perspective. Heal up...rest...we need you healthy. love to you.

Christina said...

Awww, sorry to read this. I've been reading your blog long enough to know that you are a VERY GREAT runner so this in no way shape or form means you didn't train well or do what you knew to do. Our bodies are complicated systems and sometimes things happen internally that we can't explain. Disappointment is never an easy pill to swallow. I've done a lot of thinking myself (and of course I have no where near the race experience you do) - but sometimes we are just going to have a bad race. Just the odds in the numbers I think. It's most likely not statistically probable to never have a bum one? :-( I know no words will help in these type of situations, but just remember - you are a GREAT runner. This is only one day in many and you will be right back in the game with the next one!

Becky at Prairie Runner said...

I have told you many times here that you are an inspiration to me. I listen to your advice, love the quotes, learn from your workouts, etc. And today you are an even bigger inspiration to me - to all of us! All of us have been "there" in some way in our lives, but not all of us act in a smart manner like you did! Stopping before the injury became a full-blown one was a very wise decision. Stopping is not something we runners do easily and then we live with pain for too long. I speak from experience unfortunately. Your marathon is waiting for you! Refresh and then go after it!

Julia said...

Friend. YOU and your ENTIRE family rock. I wish i knew exactly what to say. i can't imagine how tough everything you went through was. your thoughts and feelings are honest and perfectly understandable. i saw where someone wrote on your FB that you are not defined by one race. i think that is so true. take the time you need to get past this one and then keep your head up and eyes forward. you have incredible potential and your strength and ability to carry forward with such passion and determination is an inspiration to me and many others! thanks for being willing to share this...thinking of you lots!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Erin, I'm sorry your race day did not go the way you expected. You will have other races and that's why this DNF might stick in your mind to remind you but it will also encourage you to push on at another race. Lot's of peace sent your way today.

Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

Oh, how frustrating! Marathons are so unpredictable that way... you put all the time and training in, and still have no idea what will come of it on race day. I'm so sorry about the dnf, and the hip pain. Let those tears roll and grieve it... and then pick up again and work toward your next goal. You'll still get your 3:10, I'm sure of it!

Kortni said...

My heart is sad for you. It already sounds like you have a great attitude about the race. I am sure your family and your faith will carry you through this rough patch. You will be there again to nail that PR! Rest and I certainly hope your hip feels well in the morning!

Debbie said...

Please don't ever question how amazing you are. You are a constant inspiration to myself and so many others. You were dealt a horrible blow and did what you had to do. We are not defined by the things which happen to us but by how we deal with them. Sending love and wishes for a speedy recovery.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.”
Washington Irving

Caroline said...

scrolling down the Reader I saw those 3 letters....and I said "oh crap" out loud....and then I saw who wrote the post...I am just so very sorry..I cannot imagine how hard this must have been. to make this decision...those 7 miles...not to walk the extra 3...and now. you are strong. you are brave. you will learn from this I am sure. I hope this is not a real injury and that whatever it is, it will heal fast.
you are a fantastic person and a great runner dont you forget it!

Annet and Kirk said...

Aw, this sucks big time. But a few things I was thinking as I read this and all the awesome comments. For your coaching dreams, you'll now truly understand what the runners you coach may go through - you've now had a few tough races due to weather and you were so smart to not push through it and cause more damage - so you'll be able to really impart that from experience.

And, how awesome are all your fb and blog friends, everyone "gets" this and is proud of you and supportive and all that, so that is super awesome. I guess your next race (Pocatello?) will be your new redemption race. And I'm sure you'll be back stronger than ever.

Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us, hard as that probably was.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

In April, my 50K trail race became a 25K run and I got my first DNF. I hurt my ankle on a root. I knew that if I stopped running that maybe I could be running pain-free sooner. And that's what happened. You were wise to stop. Hope you're pain-free soon!

Rick Muhr said...

Good Morning Erin,

Aside from our private conversation about yesterday's DNF, I also wanted to weigh-in publicly.

Anyone that has pursued significant accomplishments in life, regardless of the arena, has experienced setbacks and disappointments. That is simply the price of admission and reality of being on a journey the 'average' person will never experience.

I actually believe that having to DNF will ultimately pay higher dividend than if you were to have set a PR yesterday by a significant margin. It will fuel your desire and determination beyond measure and take your appreciation for how gifted you are to new levels.

Keep the faith...this experience is simply the price of admission for achieving your ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trails Marathon. You have an incredible support network of people that respect, care about, and love you...including me!

I'm all-in with you in this amazing journey that will be wrought with every emotion imaginable. Let's check this one off and get back on track.

My respect for you has grown even more since yesterday.

Your Coach,

Rick

christa said...

Oh Erin, what a hard decision you had to make. You have to take care of your body. So many times, people ignore the pain and end up much worse. Last summer I ignored pain in my calf saying it was just a pulled muscle, finally on Day 10 I went to the doctor and was shipped to the biggest hospital in VT with a blood clot and it was almost too late, I was in ICU for 4 days and done with running for a month. You'll get that PR..You are determined.

Kelly said...

What a rough day! Nothing can take the sting of disappointment away. I do feel that tough people are made during tough times....use this to fuel your fire even more. I admire you tremendously...

Kelly...a long time follower running mom of an adopted special needs child....

Shannon said...

Thanks for your honesty! Things don't go the way we anticipate them somedays, and it's nice to see that someone else can have the same thoughts running through their head as I do. Take care of yourself! You're day WILL come!

fancy nancy said...

Oh Erin!!! Sending you lots of hugs from the East Coast!! You ARE amazing!!! I know this was a very hard decision but a good one. You don't want to risk injury. Rest up and soak in the love from your family!!

Anonymous said...

Oh man- sorry to hear!! Yesterday must have been about lessons! I too learned what it meant to be dehydrated and had a slow race! I was upset- but I had my husband and 2 of my running buddies literally jumped out at mile 19 to run with me!! I love the running community:) u are amazing !! I even talked about u to runners on the hatfield and McCoy race:) shout out to ur kids !!! That is awesome!!! Carol- wv

Penny said...

So sorry you were not able to finish the marathon, but I think you made the right decision. You wouldn't want to make it worse by continuing to run on it, than it might take forever to heal. Good Call girl. I'm sure that was one of the toughest calls you have to make dealing with your running. Pray for a speedy recovery.

MCM Mama said...

I'm sorry. I know it was a hard decision and I'm sure it sucked to walk 7 miles thinking about it. I hope you can figure out quickly what is up with your hip.

{{HUGS}}

Majda said...

Erin thank you so much for sharing this hard experience in all honesty with us. You're awesome and big inspiration. I read all the comments and was all teary-eyed, then I came to the comment from Coach Rick and bawled. :)
Have a rest, hope there's nothing big with your hip and take care.
Majda (CZ)

Majda said...

I re-read my comment and realized there should be "I hope there's nothing big with your hip". Sorry. :)

misszippy said...

Erin--so very, very sorry! I understand what a tough day this was for you. I respect your making the incredibly tough decision to DNF--it was the wise decision.

But let me say this--you are truly a brand-new runner. A day like this was going to happen sooner or later. You know what? It will make you even tougher and make you appreciate the next victory even more. Running is a long journey, one filled with peaks and valleys. The lows make the highs higher.

Be good to yourself and give your body the rest it needs. Even though you didn't finish, your body is clearly hurting, so respect that and give it some time.

BIG hugs to you!

Anonymous said...

Just as in life- making wise choices is tough- but you made a great decision. You worked hard for this- but it is FAR FROM OVER- don't let it define you- it is just part of the jouney.

It is one race out of MANY in your future.....so keep your chin up- be blessed for your great training and all you learned and you will take each step- one by one.

Kelly in Michigan

Unknown said...

Dear Erin,
I think there is something to be said for listening to your body when you did and choosing to honor it and not finish. I hope that you are home, you heal (both mentally and physically), you find peace with this, you receive all the love and support from your readers and your family...and you pick yourself up and re-focus, to try again. I can only think of this as some kind of lesson that you will learn from, pick yourself up and become the brightest star in the sky - which you are already.

PilotSteve said...

Erin, You absolutely made the right decision. Glad you did not jeopardize a whole running career just to say that you finished. You'll figure it out and come back even stronger and faster! Hang in there... Steve

Ashley said...

I was so excited for you and the race and I am so sorry. I know you will pick yourself right back up and can't wait to learn how you will grow from this.

becca said...

Erin,
As a fellow adoptive mama, adoption professional, and runner (very new, but still, a runner!), I've thought about all you've gone through in the last few weeks as I've visited your blog. You've had a lot to deal with- lots of training, lots of life changes with your job ending, and lots of kids to care for :). I'm going through a career change too, and as I read your DNF post, I keep hearing "This will make her a better coach" in my thoughts. And you know what? It's true! I can see you making a whole career with your running. You are passionate about it, and you already know how to help people and counsel people because of your adoption work. If you hadn't adopted, you wouldn't understand an adoptive parent's heart/struggles/life. If you never had a DNF, you wouldn't understand your clients' highest highs and lowest lows. It sucks that you have to go through this... but damn girl, you can truly say to your runners that you've been through it all. You are an AWESOME runner and will be an AMAZING coach. Because you've experienced so much of the life journey that is running. I look to you for inspiration, and I will continue to, because you are wise, strong, and determined.
sending love and peace your way...

brg said...

so sorry you had a bad day. You are tough and will bounce back stronger than ever! You have already achieved a lot in your running life and i have no doubt you will accomplish your goals in the future. Hold your head high - you have a lot to be proud of,

Cory Reese said...

As difficult as the decision was, I think you were very smart to not risk months of battling an injury just to finish.

Get feeling better so you can kick butt at the next race. I still know you are awesome!

Aunt Melissa said...

Erin-
I have been following your blog since before your first marathon (when it was your family blog) and never cease to be inspired.
Here are the thoughts that came to me when I read your post:
1. I am not coach Rick, who is clearly incredible, but I can't help wondering if you have been training too hard. I know your attitude is generally that more is better and you take a lot of pride in all of your miles and workouts. But you never, ever get enough sleep or recovery and it might be a good time to re-evaluate (with C. Rick of course) your mileage, recovery, fueling, etc. I am thinking about that "bonk" you had in your training, too - the really bad run day.
2. There is a reason for this, and eventually you will figure it out and it will become part of the narrative or your life and your running story.
3. I know you love the marathon, but could it be terrible to experiment with some other distances - potentially as part of training? You sure as heck seem on to kick 1/2 marathons - you did great in the 1 (or 2?) you have done. It might be nice to have some interim confidence-building successes (outside of nailing your workouts) in between the all-out all or nothing marathons.
4. Like so many others have said here, when you dream big there is the potential to fail big along the way. That's what dreams and stretching are all about and not very many of us are brave enough to risk it.
5. I'm sure this pushed a lot of buttons for playing old messages related to your self-esteem, confidence and identity. Try not to listen to them for long.
6. You are brave and wonderful.

Take care of all of yourself.

mfranks said...

Take a week off, a week of easy 3 mile jogs. Give yourself another 12 weeks to train, and go at it again!

-M

Aunt Melissa said...

I know you like quotes, too, so just ran across this one today:"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

Bruce Gudmundson said...

Erin - I volunteered for my first race and UV this year. I worked the finish line and thought I might be able to catch a glimpse of you coming through. When I read your report, I have to admit, I choked up. I just about didn't make one of the cutoffs at Ogden this year and I was so afraid of disappointing those who were cheering for me. Thanks for having the guts to post your raw feelings. I hope you recover quickly and are able to get back on track soon! We're still cheering for you!

Suzy said...

Heaven knows you will feel what you feel, and I don't want to discount those emotions. However, don't let worry and fear rob you of your confidence in yourself, in your body, in your gift! Try to keep your thought processes clear. I ran a miserable (AGONiZING!!!) 10k a few weeks ago in high heat and humidity. I allowed my thoughts to go to some pretty negative places, I didn't want to run for almost a week, and it took a lot to get back up and try again. In the end, I found that I CAN run. I WILL meet my goal if God allows me enough days because I won't quit trying. I have faith that it will be the same for you. Sorry you didn't have the marathon you'd hoped for & that the return on your investment wasn't at all what you'd put into it. Praying you are feeling great & shaking the dust off your feet from this weekend to run forward to your next PR.

Molly said...

I hope you're feeling a bit better now, sometimes no matter what we do, things just don't go the way we hoped. Very sorry about the lousy circumstances, but if anyone comes out of this race stronger it will be you!

Momshomerun said...

That sucks, but at least you had the courage to try! And that's what's most important. Don' beat yourself up!

lindsay said...

aww man! i was totally hoping to come and see big headlines of an amazing PR. but, i am happy to see that you got to spend the time with your whole family and that they enjoyed their own race! it's hard to DNF but i know where your head is and i think it was for the best - especially with your true running goals in mind. hope your hip/leg is doing better and you have recovered!

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

I don't believe I am so behind on posts from you. I must have really been slacking. You are amazing and I am so proud of you for making the best decision for you and by the way, you are the second DNF story I read in the past 48 hours. Both made me feel proud of very strong, smart, inspirational women. God bless you!

Teamarcia said...

So so sorry Erin. Can only imagine how disappointed you are, especially after the way you trained. It's behind you now. I know you'll move past this and continue on to greatness. Big, big hugs.