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My First DNF

14 Dec

This post was supposed to be a race report on the Sugar Land 30K, which took place on December 12th.  In a way, it is a race report, I suppose, but not the kind I’d prefer to write about.

After a minor disaster at the start line where I missed the starting gun while in the port-a-potty, I finally did catch up to the pack, passed all the walkers and settled into a nice rhythm and pace.  I was running about 11:00 miles, which was slower than I wanted, but I also knew I had a long way to go and that I’d likely speed up as the race progressed, so I didn’t worry too much about it.  After all, my primary goal was just to finish.  The course is horribly dull — 3 miles out, then 3 loops of 4 miles each, then 3 miles back. 

Around 9.5 miles in (almost halfway into my second loop), I had to stop to use the facilities again.  When I returned to the race course, the first step I landed on my right foot resulted in sharp pain on the outside of my right knee.  I stepped out of the way of the runners to rub it and stretch, then started up again.  It was still painful, but I was hopeful I could run through it and the pain would subside.  Over the next 2 miles, however, the pain did not go away.  I had to stop several times.  At 11.5 miles, I realized that I would not be able to complete the race. 

We were on a residential street, so I moved off of the narrow race course on to the sidewalk.  About a quarter-mile later, some wonderful spectators offered me a ride to the finish line, about 4 miles away.  I accepted without hesitation!

I had hoped to get there in time to see Hubby finish, but he ran a great time (a PR of 2:42) and so I missed him.

But as I stood there watching strangers and even some friends and acquaintances finish the race with arms raised high and big smiles on their faces, the disappointment of my first ever DNF settled in.  The most frustrating thing was that, at the point where I stopped, I had been running for 2 hours.  I was feeling strong, and with just over 10K left, I was beginning to feel confident about a good finish.

I have often said that long-distance running is at least 80% mental and that if your mind can persevere over your body, you can succeed.  In this instance, my body won.  I know I did the right thing by stopping when I did to avoid further injury.  But it doesn’t lessen the disappointment.  I ran into my friend Claudia at the finish line.  She could see in my face how unhappy I was and, like any good friend, she didn’t need to say anything.  She just hugged me and let me cry.

Post-script:  My orthopedist believes I have an acute case of IT band syndrome.  He said it’s definitely odd that it happened so suddenly, but that his physical examination didn’t lead him to believe I had torn any of the soft tissue, which is great news.  He put me on Celebrex, advised me to ice the area and rest this week, probably skipping my scheduled 12-mile long run on Saturday.  It will be difficult to rest with the marathon only 7 weeks away, but I know I need rest so I can heal.

Do Turkeys Really Trot?

7 Dec

For the second year in a row, I signed up the family for the Sugar Land Surgical Hospital Turkey Trot.  My husband wondered whether it might more aptly be called the “Sugar Land Turkey Run for Your Life” because, let’s face it, if someone’s trying to kill you and eat you, you’re probably not going to be moving at a leisurely trot.

But I digress.

The race is a nice, active way to start Thanksgiving Day alongside friends and neighbors from our community.  There are only about 1500 participants, so it really does feel like a community event.

The day began with a 1-mile race for the kids.  Peter, my 9-year-old, was excited for the race and had a goal to finish in less than 11:40.  It’s funny — Peter is the decidedly less athletic child, but he has really been inspired by Hubby and me and our decision to lead a more active lifestyle.  After Hubby completed his first sprint triathlon last summer, Peter decided to train for a kids’ triathlon.  He completed his event in August and has joined Marathon Kids at school this year.  He was excited for the Turkey Trot and comfortable running the race on his own.

Jacob, my 7-year-old, didn’t have a stated goal.  But probably the single overarching goal in his young life has been to beat his brother.  At anything.  Jacob, though he enjoys sports, was grumpy that I had decided to sign him up for this race.  He was a little less confident in his distance-running abilities and requested that Daddy accompany him.

After the National Anthem was played, the gun went off and so did the kids.  My father-in-law and I waited patiently at the finish line to cheer them on.  I kept looking for Peter’s head of shiny black hair to come into view.  Much to my surprise, the first familiar sight I saw was Jacob, with Daddy running just behind him encouraging him to sprint for the finish!  Peter followed a few seconds later, with a finish time of 10:52.  What a day — Jacob beat his brother AND Peter beat his goal time.  Everybody wins!

About 20 minutes later, it was time for Hubby and me to line up for the 5-miler.  It was a warm, humid, sunny day, which wasn’t ideal for running.  Thankfully, the course winds through a stately older neighborhood with lots of mature trees to provide shade.  My finish time last year was around 59 minutes, so my only real goal was to try to beat that time.  Additionally, I knew we had a 12-mile run scheduled two days later, so I was trying my hardest to treat this as a training run instead of a race.

Ultimately, I finished in 51:59, even though I really did not push myself.  Again, mission accomplished!  I stayed to cheer on some of my friends, then we headed home to begin the cooking frenzy for Thanksgiving.

I love that we have started this tradition of participating in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.  It gets the day off to a good start and sure helps ease the guilt over that second helping of mashed potatoes!