Did nothing fatal

DNF. There’s three letters I never thought I’d see in succession. This weekend in Akron Ohio I was dealt my first DNF. DNF of course stands for “did not finish”. In five years of running I’ve never not finished a race. I was attempting to break the four-hour barrier for the first time with this one, and fell short. Of course it just had to happen at one of the biggest races, and in front of loads of friends and family. I can tell you that taking off that race number and walking…..hobbling onto the transport bus was the harder to do than any race I’ve ever run.

Anyone who knows me knows that I really do think that I change traffic lights with the force, and that I don’t give up easily. With running though, there can come a point when you have to recognize when you’re doing more damage than good. And yes, I’m very guilty of not recognizing, or more like full on ignoring this in the past.

For some marathoners, crossing the line in under four hours is nothing monumental. Indeed, it wouldn’t even make me close to competitive. But running for me has never been about winning or competition. I run because I simply love to run. But I want to be able to say that I’ve come in under 4 at least once in my life.

I’ve been training as much as work will allow since April. I gotta admit, I really haven’t enjoyed it. I love running, but I hate training. Training feels like work, and running for me is the antithesis of work. Still, I was doing pretty well until about 7 weeks before the race when I got on a series of jobs and then full on threw my back out. From that point on I just focused on recovering and spent more time on the bike then I did in my running shoes. I still felt relatively good though on the morning of the race.

But of course without fail, something always goes wrong. I should mention that I ran this race with my cousin who was running his first marathon. He finished in 4:08, which is a phenomenal time for a first go.

We both started the race at solid 8:30 pace. At about mile 4 my left foot started to give me trouble though. Oddly enough, it wasn’t my ankle which is surprising because it’s always the first to go. The top of my foot was absolutely on fire though, and it stayed like that for the rest of the race. If I have one advantage as a runner, it’s that I have a high pain tolerance and generally don’t mind hurting. At about half way through the race there was a severe downhill. I hate hills. I can climb them all day long but I cannot descend to save my life, be it on foot or on the bike. When I finally made it to the bottom my foot felt awful, but I kept on, and I was still on target. Apart from throwing my back out 7 weeks out from the race, I was pretty much following my plan. I was staying on pace and topped off with fluids and my energy levels were good. My knees felt good, back was holding up, hell, even my ankle was doing great, but foot was screaming, and then my calves and IT bands started to tighten. As the miles ticked by those muscles became tighter and tighter. By mile 18 they and my foot were absolutely and screaming and by mile 22 they were full on locked up. I dragged my self in a sort of zombie shuffle nearly another full mile to the next aid station. It was miserable. I just kept looking down at my watch watching the seconds tick by and my average pace drop. When I finally shuffled up to the aid tent I was in really rough shape. I begged the volunteers there (who were all fantastic) to do anything they could to get me up and running again. They stretched me out, iced me down, and covered my legs in bio freeze. But it was to no avail. It was like trying to drive a car with no oil. I could have dragged myself the last couple of miles and probably finished in around 5 hours, but I’ve done that before. I’ve literally finished races in crutches. Dumb. I’m still paying for it. The goal here was to finish in under four hours. And when the four hour pacer ran by the tent I knew it was over, and that I had to live to run another day.

I wanted to finish. I wanted to nothing more than to keep going, but instead I did something much harder and stopped.  So, I “did not finish”, but as a very wise runner once said, I also “did nothing fatal”.

Suffice it say, I’m pissed. Really pissed. This is my new view in the morning.

I’m already registered for next year and I’m super motivated. I left my race jacket behind with my folks in Ohio. I’ll be back in a year to get it after I earn it. And when I cross that line next year in under four hours I’m going to have that race bib with me and I’m going to tare it in half and set in on fire right on there on the line.

Now, concerning my foot, it’s basically one of three things; a subluxed bone, a stress or hairline fracture…………..or another dreaded bone spur which would mean more surgery. I’ve never wanted a subluxed bone so badly. Whatever the cause is though, I will work through it.

As far as leg lockjaw goes, I think I need to reexamine my training and nutrition. That should never have happened. Conveniently enough, I’ve had a new roommate move in who happens to be an athletic trainer. Last night he hooked me up to a compex eletro therapy unit. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It feels weird as hell but after thirty minutes of being shocked, I noticed an immediate difference and when I woke up the next morning I felt refreshed like I had rested for days.

I’m already sold on this. Fortunately you don’t have to be Ryan Hall to get one. You just have to part with $700. It’s something I’m seriously going to look into if I continue to see results like this.

So, if any of you out there have been in a race that you couldn’t quite get done, know that there is no shame in calling it quits sometimes. Give it everything you have, but ya know, there are times to push, and there times when it’s better not to, and if you’re anything like me it’s much harder to throw in the towel, then it is to keep going. But, Ultimately you have to listen to your body. Don’t be stupid like I was in previous years and risk making an injury worse, or even permanent. Trust me on this. Live to run another day.

359 days until revenge……

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~ by glennikin on October 5, 2012.

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