Sunday, July 15, 2012

Shut the Front Door...I DNF'd!!!

My first DNF. Oh how it sucks. I'm starting to think that Limberlost is going to become my great white whale. I'd like to blame the weather (it was stinking, gross hot), I'd most certainly love to blame the trail (it is really difficult but the most beautiful one I've tried), I could blame the bear (but I imagine he was getting a good chuckle at all the stupid humans running in crazy heat) but in reality the responsibility of my DNF falls on my own shoulders. Damn it.

Like so many race before it, I know I will look back on this and continue to learn from it but the DNF stings. I signed up for 28 km and only got one loop done. I was hot, tired, miserable, negative, emotional, miserable, and did I mention miserable?? I had zero pain. Nothing. The one race where I can honestly say I had no pain; go figure. No cramping, no charlie horses, no stiff neck, no lead feet. My legs were the best they felt in months. Heck, I finished 25 km in Sulphur Springs with a bad knee and back.

So what happened? Honestly, it was the combination of little things that got in my way. Or that I allowed to get in the way. And most of them were emotional which are even worse to try and get through.

I had every intention of eating well leading up to the race and I didn't eat poorly but I certainly did not eat enough. With all the training I was putting in the past two weeks I was becoming hungry a lot more and instead of grabbing a snack, I'd put off eating until I hit a mealtime. I'd be starving by 10pm but too lazy to grab a banana downstairs. I had every intention of hydrating well knowing that the weekend was going to be crazy hot. I'm really bad for hydrating generally speaking and I missed the mark last week for sure.

Friday was a mish-mash day of every task getting pushed later and later to the point that we barely got the tent up in time with natural light at the campsite; and it was compounded by the fact that it was my sons' first time camping. It felt like a scramble all day. Too much going on and not enough planning on my part. I had a list on hand but I kept adding to it and then it just became a "top-of-mind" list trying to pack for three. I couldn't relax on Friday night and stupidly went straight to bed not even getting my running gear set up for the next morning, which is what I usually do. I can honestly say, I was lucky if I got two hours sleep that night.

So by Saturday morning I was physically and mentally exhausted.  That normal rush of race-day adrenaline never kicked it. My kids were excited to see me start but I basically sauntered up to the starting line praying I had everything I needed. I could barely muster a smile. Everyone else's enthusiasm didn't even stir anything inside of me. I was t-i-r-e-d. I got 3 km into the race and kept hoping for some surge of energy. Something that would at least register to my brain that all systems were go and 28 km were possible. Never happened.

By 8km out of the 14k loop, I was already thinking about DNF'ing. The 14 km race participants, who started 20 mins after the 28 km participants, were passing me. Normally this doesn't bother me but I was discouraged. By the 10km mark I knew I was going to DNF. The food at the aid stations were well stocked but nothing seemed appetizing; my body was so tired that food didn't even help motivate me. I tried to talk myself out of it by remembering that my kids were there and they shouldn't see their mother quit. I reminded myself that I paid for the 28k race so I would be giving myself the monetary-shaft. I mentally rubbed my shoulders and suggested to myself that walking the next loop was nothing to be ashamed of as long as I finished. Nothing worked. I swallowed back a whole lot of tears and just trudged on. I knew that if the waterworks started, I'd be stuck in the forest behind a tree for awhile (and with my luck I'd have met up with the bear). Bad enough I was as slow as I was without giving myself another reason to stop.

As I saw the finish line and my kids and Scott all waving with big smiles on their faces and lots of encouragement for loop number two,  I felt really guilty. I took of my number, told them I couldn't do another lap, and officially DNF'd. I wanted to dig a hole, crawl in, have a good cry and sleep. I never did though. My younger son was "starving" at 11:20 a.m. and I had to switch to "Mommy-mode" instantly.

So, there you have it; what I hope to be my first and last DNF story. Some key elements out of this race that I have learned:
  1. The mental side of running is huge. If you're head isn't in the race than it just makes the battle that much harder to win. I've had plenty of runners tell me that before but it didn't sink in until yesterday.
  2. Eat and hydrate. Eat and hydrate. Eat and hydrate. I get it.
  3. Follow a normal routine the night before the race. It will help your body get ready for the next morning.
  4. There's no shame in a DNF. There's always another race.
And mine is Dirty Girls. I have a month to train, both mentally and physically, to get to my personal goal of 50 km. I will NOT DNF. I don't care if I have to crawl!

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