Acceptance

By | June 3, 2017

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.

NODM

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.

2017Centennial

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.

OlympicNationalPark

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!

Cheers!
James

37 thoughts on “Acceptance

  1. neveradullbling

    Awww, thank you for all the wonderful support honey! You’ll be back… and you know this, 😁 You can crush your PR at Marine Corps. You can and you will. In the meantime, just heal please, because I’m really going to miss you passing me out on the course tomorrow!! 😆 Hugsies!! 😘

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Awwww, thank you honey and so proud of you on your race today, you did awesome!! And, thank you for all the great support…time to look forward and plan for the Fall races.

      Reply
      1. neveradullbling

        Thank you for all your virtual support today! Couldn’t have made it without you! (even though I stopped talking to you after mile 10, lol)

        Reply
  2. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    Oh Jamesie, what a bummer! I don’t want to make you feel worse, but that is THE worst thing that could have happened, especially after all that training. I’d certainly be gutted and prowling around like a bear with a sore head – and behind and back… (Oh, don’t mention the back!)
    The main thing though is to get your back better, take it steady with your training and then look forward to the next race… I’m sure there will be many more opportunities to get that PR.
    Give Paula a cheer from me too! All the best mate. Mike

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Hey Mikey…cheers mate and thanks so much for the kind words and support. I was down for sure…you nailed it when you said this was the worse thing – it happened right at the end and left me twisting, not knowing if I would heal in time. But, onwards and upwards. Will take some time to get better, heal, learn and plan the next assault. Cheers mate!

      Reply
  3. Sophie

    So sorry James – that’s awful. I’ve had ongoing back issues (slipped disc x2 and related facet joint issues) and it last kicked off 3 weeks before the London Marathon last year so a DNS. Thankfully all sorted and ran this year after daily core/stretching – a routine from the physio. I hope you get it sorted soon!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Sophie for the support and encouragement. It sounds like something very similar happened in terms of timing to you – so frustrating, especially with a DNS after all that training and you can certainly relate. I’m hoping it is not a disk issue…I want to cautiously say I think it is starting to feel better but nowhere near strong or pain free enough to risk resuming running. Just have to be patient and know that there are races later in the year that will be there for me. And, I will be getting more serious about core strength, stretching, chiro, and tissue massage moving forward. Hope you are doing great…I have some blog catching up to do! Cheers!

      Reply
  4. wanderwolf

    There’s very little to like about this post, other than that soon the pain of DNS will be gone (since the race will be over and you can’t do anything about it anymore) and you’re moving towards a positive approach to this situation. Hopefully the pain of the injury itself is on its way out too!
    I’m so sorry!! I know this was the goal race for you, and a tough call after April with Reno. Having gone through the same emotional pain in July and September (remember that whirlwind of injury, getting started again and re injuring myself to the point that the Oct. marathon was no longer an option?), I empathize with you a lot right now. It’s a kind of grief that can lead one down a pretty dark path in terms of one’s approach to running (in fact, I think it’s the biggest reason for my current state)…but it’s good to recognize that it’s a relatively easy to heal and there is always the next race. The pain sounds terrible… and it’s such a bummer so soon before the goal race (with enough time that one almost could heal in time…a cruel possibility). I hope you have a great time today at the race and have fun cheering Paula on (go Paula!). Then, it’s time to heal some more in a relaxed way, slowly start up mileage, and get ready for MCM with Paula! In a way, it’s good she doesn’t have to deal with you at the top of your marathon game and you can build up together. 😉
    All the best, James. I feel terrible for you…but here’s to getting better and looking forward.

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you so much Dorothea…I really appreciate the kind words and support. It was so nice to receive such heartfelt sympathy and encouragement from you and other run bloggers. It’s awesome that we root for each other and share the ups and inevitable downs of this sport. I hope you are getting better with your running – I recall the tough period that you went through last year. It is hard as we invest so much into our training and running and when it is taken away at the last minute it feels very empty. But, I will regroup and take time to heal. I have 2 more marathons on the calendar later this year and maybe one of those can be a candidate for a PR attempt. It was fun cheering Paula today and we’re having a fun weekend break in a beautiful location. I’ll continue to rehab and get back just as soon as I can…best and cheers!!

      Reply
  5. Stephanie

    Ugh! What a major bummer! I will spare you any “chin up” comments because I can imagine that I would be in the same boat as you. Prayers that your back gets better soon so you ca get back out there and crush it!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thanks Steph…very much appreciated. Haven’t quite experienced this before – guess we are always learning something new and we never have this all figured out no matter how many training cycles and races we go through. For the most part, I’ve been lucky with injuries until now but this one rocked me coming right after my final long run of my training cycle. Excruciating, mentally and physically but I think I’m starting to feel better so hoping I’m back out there sometime reasonably soon without rushing back. Thanks again for the kind words and support.

      Reply
  6. sarahdudek80

    I am so sorry to read this. I have been there and I know so many other runners who have too. We runners take injuries and not running to heart. It is a difficult blow mentally and physically. Injuries seem to consume us and we feel at the time like they will never get better. It seriously just does feel that way! The good news is that you will get better and you will be a better runner because of it. Once everything is said and done, take some time to think about how it happened and how you can keep it from happening in the future or how you will approach it differently. Give yourself the time to heal and don’t worry about races for a bit. And before you know it, you will be back and running races like before, and maybe even better than before!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you so much Sarah…I really appreciate the kind words, insight, and support. We live the ups of downs together in the running community and this was a tough one. We all go through these cruel breaks at one point or another. The race is now in the rear view mirror. I can take some positives from my training cycle – I actually learned a lot, not injury related of what works and doesn’t work for me when it comes to training. You are totally right, I will get better and come back stronger ready to chase that PR again!!

      Reply
  7. Chris

    James – So sorry to read this! The important thing now is to figure out what is the cause and to get healthy!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thanks Chris…much appreciated brother – also responded to your other comment. Cheers!

      Reply
  8. mawil1

    Don’t worry, plenty of opportunities in the future. Just make sure that you get better!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Julie…really appreciate the support. I’m already looking forward to getting better and coming back stronger than ever!

      Reply
      1. mawil1

        You will! I take it that you have some physio to do, especially working on your core? i know that you will do it diligently! And recovery will be yours in good time😊

        Reply
        1. James Post author

          yes, definitely taking some time now…i have chiro again this week and another deep tissue massage next week…hoping combining that with ongoing rest, hydration, nutrition etc, i’ll be back stronger and wiser!!

          Reply
  9. runningtotravel

    Oh no! I’m truly very sorry to hear this. Injuries are so hard for runners mentally as well as physically. I hope you’re up and running again soon.

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Donna…i think in terms of running this was the toughest situation that i’ve to deal with. But, as we often say we’re always learning something new when it comes to running matter how many races or training plans we’ve completed in the past. Hoping to come back stronger and with a plan to keep up on the non-running exercises and treatments. Hope the racing and travelling is still going well…I have some blog catching up to do!!

      Reply
      1. runningtotravel

        You’re right about always learning something new when it comes to running. I have no doubt you’ll come back stronger.

        Reply
  10. Chris

    Sorry to read this! I can’t think of any advice to offer other than focus on recovering before you try and rush back into a race. Too many people try and jump back into it before their are recovered and end up having more setbacks.

    I would say the best thing to do is lay off the running and try: swimming, biking, other cardio and doing some strength straining.

    Best of luck!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thanks Chris…appreciate the support brother. Crazy frustrating especially coming right at the end of my marathon training cycle. Hopefully it will respond to treatment and rest. I’ll certainly take my time coming back and I have no race plans until the Fall. I just hope I’ll at least be able to prepare for those though I need to rethink my goals a bit. Cheers!

      Reply
  11. hellyontherun

    Nooooo!!!! I’m so sorry to hear this! You’ve trained so hard!
    I’m not sure I’ve had a DNS but I had a DNF that should’ve been a DNS. It was absolutely awful. Like you, I had trained so hard and then got really, really sick about 2 weeks before my marathon. I *knew* I should not have started that race but I did, and then I had to pull out at mile 12. I wish I had never started.
    Heal up! Sending healthy back vibes your way!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Helly! Really appreciate the kind words and support…I know you’ve been following along and relating to my progression with the Hansons plan. It was so tough and I won’t deny I was devastated when the realization finally hit me…you know how tough the training is and to have the race taken away was awful – there was no consoling me. But, it’s done now and I’ll heal over time…and you know I’ll be trying for that PR again just as soon as I can 🙂

      Reply
  12. thedancingrunner

    Definitely plenty of opportunities for comeback in the future. Don’t let this get you down too much! I know you still have that rockstar PR in you. Easier said than done but please take the time to rest up and keep keepin’ on!! Sending positive recovery vibes for sure!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Chelsea…really appreciate the kind words and support. I will take the time I need to recover and come back stronger and ready to take another shot at that PR!

      Reply
  13. Fallon @ Slacker Runner

    Boo, I am so sorry to read this, you were training so hard. I hope your back heals quickly and that you come back even stronger than before. I’ve DNS’ed before, twice. Once due to a horrible flu, there was no way I in the shape to run a trail race, I could barely even move. I hope you were able to enjoy a little bit of the trip.

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thanks Fallon…appreciate the kind words. This was my first DNS with the injury coming at the worst time, my final long run of my PR attempt marathon cycle…crazy frustrating especially as I had no idea how long I would be out – still don’t for that matter! It was still a nice trip though in a beautiful location.

      Reply
  14. roberthansen1317

    That is a bummer. I’ve been feeling that way for four years. Keep thinking one day this long list of stupid injuries will end but…. here’s to the next one.

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thanks Robert…hope that you get a break from the injury cycle, it is so frustrating for sure.

      Reply
  15. SlowRunnerGirl

    Hi James,
    so sorry to read about this …
    Sending all best wishes and hope you can find the cause and fix it asap.
    It believe it will make you stronger in the end …
    Sending loads of well wishes your way!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you for the kind words and support! Hoping it gets better soon and I can come back stronger…they’ll always be another race and another chance at that PR!

      Reply
  16. nathasha

    Oh man, I’m so sorry, James. That’s terrible news after working so hard during training. I hope you’re feeling a little better — you’ll be back soon! Back and stronger than ever. 🙂

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Nathasha…it was a bit of bad luck for sure and was hard to accept. But, the good news is that I am finally getting better and despite having to forgo my marathon I’m looking forward to getting back out in hopefully a couple of weeks. I’ve got some great races in the Fall and am looking forward to chasing that PR again! Hope you are doing well!!

      Reply

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