The Three Toughest Letters to Face as a Runner

January 16, 2012 § 6 Comments

DNF.

WTF. No LOL here.

Best Laid Plans
I had high hopes for my return to the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n Roll marathon. This time around was supposed to be different. This time, I was more prepared than for any other race. This time was supposed to be my time. I planned. I trained. I carbed. I fueled. I did so much more than I’ve done in the past because I know what could happen. Been there. Done that.

So, What Happened?
That’s a great question. The same problem I ran into during my last two marathons, reared it’s ugly head once again. I started off energized and strong. I kept my pace slower at the start so I had enough energy to last the second half. I felt good for the first several miles and I stayed on track with my hydration and fueling. Then, at mile 10 I started to struggle. My body felt ok, but my breathing felt strained. I tried to relax and focus, but with each passing mile, my chest felt tighter and breathing had become really difficult. I saw my husband at mile 13 and I knew I was in trouble, but I just warned him that I was slowing down and then I kept going. Bad idea. By mile 15 I was walking…a lot. I could feel the lack of oxygen attacking my muscles and it felt like every fiber of my body was on fire. How is this possible? I was so much smarter with my preparation this time. What if something is really wrong?

I saw my husband and parents at 17.5 and I broke down into tears. I was in pain and my breathing was really shallow. I knew I was in trouble and I had a decision to make. Could I make it another 9 miles? I could if I walked or lightly jogged, but even then, the pain the breathing issues weren’t going to go away. (I’ve learned my lesson there.) It took me a few minutes battling with myself to make the decision. The runner in me really wanted to keep going no matter what it took. But the wife, daughter and friend in me was concerned for my health and what forcing my body to finish could possibly do to me. My body was (and has been) trying to tell me something and I haven’t been listening – maybe this is the time I should start. So, I stopped. Even as I type this I still get teary-eyed to admit that I gave up.

I didn’t finish. I am heartbroken.

What Now?
I had an appointment with my doctor and he’s going to run some tests. I don’t have a medical answer yet, but the good news is he says I can keep running. I’m going to take a little doctor-prescribed break — maybe a week or two — to recover physically and mentally and then get back to it.

Am I going to try for another marathon? I don’t think so. Am I disappointed with that, yes. But if I can hold onto the great memories from my first marathon, I’ll (eventually) be ok with that decision. I still have goals I want to hit for my half marathon time and I think it will be good for me to ease back on my mileage for a while — at least until I’m sure I won’t ever go through what I’ve been through THREE times again, which for all I know may be never.

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§ 6 Responses to The Three Toughest Letters to Face as a Runner

  • bearrunner says:

    That is difficult, I had the same thing happen to me in marathons.. It’s a tough distance regardless of how prepared we feel we are. A lot of factors can come into play come race day and sometimes it is just ot our day. I have faith you will complete this goal

    Cheers

  • DrRachelRuns says:

    I’m so sorry. I hope that you find an answer. Good luck.

  • runnrgrl says:

    hey mandy,
    dnf’s blow, but not wrecking yourself is not an option. it’s a hard one on your pride, on your self-confidence and on your sense of accomplishment. it’s so easy to get carried away by the end goal…when, you’d already done the the real work to get to the start line. you trained. you fueled. you ran week after week. in good and ugly conditions. that kind of perseverance takes a lot of guts. it takes even more guts to know when you have to call it a day. (you know why i might know something about this- tho not quite the same…still… a dnf doesn’t have to happen on the course )…

    i bet everyone else that knows and loves you, they are all glad for those three letters…as opposed to RIP. 🙂 death before DNF is just plain stupid. we all see you for your courage, no matter what.

  • Joanna says:

    Well lady, I know how much you planned and how hard you trained and can only say how much I feel for you. It’s tough to make the decision to not finish, but in the long run, it was the best decision I’m sure. I’ve never known you to be a quitter, so you shouldn’t think that you gave up. Listening to your body is much more important and there are always more opportunities. I hope your health is okay and that you continue to do what you love. All you need to do is keep positive and things will look up. 🙂

  • bearrunner says:

    I may have to break the bank and purchase a Nano or Touch… hopefully they last longer than shuffles haha

    Cheers

  • […] for the past year or so, something has been awry with my training for quite some time (see here and here for examples) and I have just pushed it aside and pretended like nothing was wrong. Anyone who […]

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