You might say I’ve been a little bit off the map the past couple weeks. The last time I checked in, I was finishing up the final stages of my marathon training cycle, preparing for the amazing North Olympic Discovery Marathon in hopes of crushing my marathon PR time of 3:59:55. Fast forward a couple weeks, it’s now the night before my ‘A’ race, marathon number 12, and my first 26.2 since Tulsa in November. And, the result is in…yeah, the unthinkable happened. My time on the race results tomorrow will read…DNS.
DNS in the world of running/triathlon/racing is a dreaded acronym. Quite simple, Did Not Start. Worse than a DNF, or Did Not Finish. 4 months of training, 600+ miles, tempo, speed, long runs 6x a week to crush my moonshot goal PR. But, when the race starts tomorrow, I will be at the finish line greeting Paula at the end of her half, and cheering on all my fellow runners.
So, WTF, how do I end up with a DNS? Let’s rewind. I had resumed the final stage of my plan and headed into my peak volume 3 weeks prior to race day. It was a long week with the normal variety of workouts including a tough 12 mile tempo run at about target goal pace on the Thursday. After an easy 8 miler on Saturday which felt great, I finished with a hard 18 mile long run. The plan called for 16 but I added 2 more to take me to 60 miles for the week, figuring a couple more wouldn’t hurt. And, I don’t think a couple more did hurt. But, that run included a pretty challenging 4 mile climb during the back part of the out and back. I’ll admit I was exhausted by the time I made it home.
I was fatigued and tired but by no means in uncharted territory. I was looking forward to one more hard week before hitting taper. The next day after the long run, I was going through the normal Monday morning routine heading to the office and noticed the slightest of twinges in my back. I think I might have picked up a pillow or something innocuous but really not sure. Two hours later at my desk and my back was on fire. By the time I got home, I could barely walk. The next couple days getting to the office was out of the question and walking was a challenge.
I’ll spare you all the details because there is little point in revisiting it all. I’ve tried everything…couple of chiro adjustments, 2 deep tissue massages, hydration, vitamins, rest, light walking, manipulation, bio-freeze, heating pads with the hope of at least getting to the final week before race day. That week has come and gone. I ran on Monday for less than 5 minutes before searing pain shot through my lower back. Yesterday, I managed to gut it out through 1.5 miles in desperation that maybe the pain had subsided enough that I could rely on my hard-earned fitness to get me through the 26.2 miles. While the pain was less, I knew deep down, it was over. There is no way I can run a marathon.
To say I’m gutted is an understatement and I have been struggling all week to come to terms with reality. The final punch came today at packet pickup. I received my race bag and bib with a cheerful ‘good luck’ from the volunteer. It was all I could do to summon a grin and ‘thank you.’ It’s time to move on but I wont deny I have had a really hard time letting go. The emotional pain hurts as much as the physical discomfort. I know that I’ve not been the best company this past week as I am sure Paula will attest. Mum is also visiting from the Motherland and they have both been doing all they can to pick up my spirits.
I was in denial even at packet pickup. As we wandered through the small but well organized expo, my back pain subsided a bit, my mind started thinking well what if..and..maybe we could try after all we have done this before eleven times! I hit rock bottom at that expo and was so subdued as we loaded up the supplies at a local grocery market, I had to head to the craft beer section and accept reality. Acceptance. This race is over for me.
But, Paula needs and deserves my support and my self pity is unfair. I’m looking forward to taking her to her start line tomorrow and then cheering her to the finish. I’ll have fun watching all the other marathon and half-marathon runners race and achieve their goals. I’m looking forward to running into a couple of fellow Bib RavePro’s at the finish line. 4 beers and a fun family evening at our beautiful vacation cottage in Port Angels and I’ve finally accepted the reality. I’ll be back…but for now I’ll accept finding acceptance.
Thank you all for the great support and best wishes and sorry for the rather negative post…hopefully it wasn’t too negative – more of just an update of why it’s been a quiet over here recently. I’ll be getting back to normal here soon enough. In the meantime, we do get to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Olympic Peninsula for a few days. And, go Paula go!!
- Have you ever DNS’d?
- How do you recover from a serious physical or emotional setback – any advice?
- Have you ever completed a training plan and then not been able to race?
‘Till next time,
Run safe, run strong, run happy!