Sunday, November 8, 2009

DNF on my Half Marathon Today

Today was another humbling experience in my racing career.

I took the past 5 days off for at first what I thought was calf pain. The more research I did, I realized I was having problems with my Achilles tendon. As soon as I knew I had the beginning stages of Achilles tendonitis, I knew that rest was the only option. I spent 5 days cross training and not running. The 5 days helped immensely and I was feeling great yesterday and did a practice 1.5 mile run to see how I felt. I had no pain and thought I would be great for my half marathon today so headed up to Maine this morning.

I decided to race the all women's Maine Coast Half Marathon in hopes to redeem my training after Twin Cities. I knew that because of my injury that my chances of a PR were small, but I wanted to try and see what would happen.

Kathrine Switzer showed up for the race, how cool is that? The race advertises this marathon as an all women's half marathon and "one lucky guy". Kathrine made the comment that when she ran Boston, there were 778 men (not exactly sure of the number) and she was the one lucky girl, so here he was the one lucky man among just under 1200 women. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the day. :)

So we took off and the first 5k was AWESOME. I felt great and I was cruising. Mile 1 was under 7:40 and I settled into an 8 minute pace for mile 2 and 3. There were a lot of rolling hills and I was still able to maintain my pace going up the hills. Now one problem is, my achilles, does not like going downhill. So the initial rolling hills, while I was able to run them fine, my tendon was not happy with me. I saw my husband at around the 5k point and I looked and felt great....Looking back I should have stopped then before the pain started.

Coming down the hill the road along the ocean, so pretty.

Looking very strong and very happy and it was a perfect day for racing.

This was our view for a multiple miles, so pretty! The lighthouse in the distance is the neighborhood we got to run in.

Just over a mile later and the pain began. I gradually slowed down as the pain increased thinking it was just little pain and that I could push through it. I wasn't worried about time, I just wanted to get my 13 miles in. Well going into mile 5 there was a lot of rolling hills. I am not complaining about hills, because I love a good rolling course because I pass people going up, but going down hills was killing me. My mile 4 was around 8:20 and 5 was about 8:40. I was slowing down and the pain was getting worse. I figured, I would just make it back to my husband which was around mile 9 and be done. The decision was pretty much made, but I needed to get to him. I started to get past, over and over again. It really was hard on the ego and I knew I would never get passed by these people if I wasn't injured.

At this point, my first complaint of the half marathon began. The mile 5 or so water stop was totally unmanned. They had a table set up with jugs of water behind it and cups. Women were just drinking out of the jugs. (Ever heard of flu people?) I was annoyed but poured myself a cup and kept going. My next complaint was, where was the course support? I wanted to quit and couldn't find anyone to ask how to get back to the finish line. There were not even police officers around and the traffic was totally blocked so even if I could borrow a cell phone from a spectator there was no way my husband was coming to me other than by foot.

So miles 6-9 went by pretty slowly as I knew the pain was getting worse and I was very afraid of injuring myself worse than I already was, so I took it slow, very slowly. I was trying to enjoy the beautiful day, but who likes to get passed by people and being in pain. We were running back down the pretty stretch along the ocean and I was looking desperately for my husband. I couldn't find him and passed the turn to the finish line. I thought, maybe I could do this and kept going. I made it about 1/4 of a mile before I decided I was done. I quit. This was the hardest decision I have made while running before. I immediately took off my number and crossed the street and walked back to the high school with my head hung low. Walking was painful at all, so I knew that I could finish the half marathon walking, but I don't walk half marathons, I run them. I was not going to wear a medal that I didn't totally earn. (Please note, I find NOTHING wrong with walking in races, if that is how you finish them. I will walk when needed, but 4 miles of walking would not do me any good other than irritate my injury more than it needed to be.)

So I made it to the finish line at around 1:35 on the clock and got to finish all the top finishers of the race. I had extreme envy of their speed and injury-free legs. I waited around for my husband who finally realized after a while that I must have quit and went to the finish line to find me. Stupid, me, was so upset with quitting that I refused to grab water or food after the race. My head was telling me I didn't deserve the food even though I had just ran 9 miles. I paid for that about an hour later when I had the worst headache and chills from not eating or drinking.

We went home and my tendons began swelling up. I was limping around so I let my husband talked me into icing and heating my ankles. Here are pictures of me with my feet in a bucket of ice water and then the hot bath.

I am now planning on 2-4 weeks of rest, more if I need it. This is not a fun situation for me because I run for more reasons than just racing. I need to run for my peace of mind, so I will be a crabby person for the next few weeks. I do plan on cross-training as I was fine with it last week. When I do plan on easing back into training, it will be a GRADUAL easing. I have adjusted my goals for Disney to just finish the races and to have fun. I know as long as I keep my cardio up that I will be able to finish the races, it just won't be as easy if I could complete my training.

The quickly filling up Boston Marathon has made my decision to take it easy over the next few months so much easier. I have read that the race may be filled by Thanksgiving so any chance of qualifying in the winter is now not an option, so I will just enjoy my winter marathon without having any what if's, no need to skip my 1/2 marathon if I am feeling good.

So there is my not-so-fun update. Oh injuries, they are so much fun.


Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

OH so sorry Robin. That must have been the hardest to let yourself Stop and accept injury. Here is to a SPEEDY recovery!!

Lacey Nicole said...

oyyyy. i'm so so so sorry. but i am really glad you were at that race even if you didn't get to finish. i didn't know KV was going to be there again this year! she was advertised as the guest of honor last year-- i almost went. i think i even signed up? i really can't remember. i was injured tho from the car accident. i laughed at your comment about the jugs/flu... seriously. that's terrible race etiquette. agreed.

good luck with your recovery. you can totally work on core!!! take advantage of the time? :)

Kristina said...

So, so sorry to hear it was a crummy race for you. I was behind you for a bit (didn't know it was you until seeing your pics), and when I passed you, I remember thinking that you sounded really pained. Very good call to pack it in. I've been there with a DNF, and it's really, really hard. Sometimes succumbing to the DNF is harder than a finish, mentally, so I commend you on making the hard choice. Several people I know had a hard time with that race yesterday (wind, hills, missing water stops), so you're not alone in disappointment.
It's Kathrine Switzer's race, so I'd assume she'll be there next year if you want to run it again. The new course was brutal, but I hope you'll come back next time.
Best wishes for your recovery, Robin.

Alison said...

Oh man Robin, I'm so sorry. I'm so glad you're going to take a few weeks off and hey - running Goofy for your 30th will be totally enjoyable without having to worry about anything but having a good time. Rest well, sending healing thoughts your way.

aron said...

uggg - you definitely did the RIGHT thing out there. now take care of yourself and get that injury better!!!

Caroline said...

Aww, I am so sorry to hear about the injury and the tough time you had at the race. Can't believe people were drinking straight from the water jugs at the aid station too, omg.

It does sound promising, though, that when you did the 5 days of cross training, the tendon was starting to feel better.

I like your outlook about Boston too. You are so fast now, and a BQ must be just around the corner. It's cool, though, how you're able to take care of yourself first and be patient.

Jenn said...

OMG-seriously-we are looking at a nationwide Swine Flu epidemic! Drinking right out of the jug-NASTY!
It appears the running fairy has not blessed you with very good luck lately. You are 29 years old-just a baby :) So much time left to run-smart decision on resting up!

Carlee said...

That stinks; I'm sorry you're going through this but at least you are being smart about it!

sounds like you've been trying out some good cross training too!