Houston Marathon (non)Race Report

Can I get a Mulligan on that one?

Since this has taken me awhile to write, most of you probably know that Sunday did not turn out like I had hoped.  It was actually the opposite.  Instead of my first BQ, I got my first DNF.  Not exactly the #1 thing on my bucket list, but it happened.

We were running strong, 8:02 pace, until around 11 where my hip started hurting.  We slowed a little to ~8:07 and held it until around 14 where I just couldn’t take a step without a shooting pain in my left hip joint.  By 16, I made the difficult and heartbreaking decision to stop.  I knew my time goal wasn’t going to happen, and I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my hip, so I sent Batch on (he REALLY didn’t want to leave me) and slowly jogged to mile 18 where some dear friends were spectating and kindly picked me up. 

I want to be clear about a couple of things regarding my decision to stop.  I do not think less of anyone who runs slower than I was aiming for on Sunday.  My first marathon was a 5:09.  I chose to stop because this race was about the clock for ME.  If I stopped at 18, got my hip fixed, I could use my training for another race in the near future.  If I kept going (slower), I could still finish, but I might cause permanent damage to my hip and/or slow my chances for another BQ attempt.  Stopping was the right decision for me and what I want to accomplish in my running right now.

In an effort to keep it real and also to hopefully encourage someone else who may be in a similar situation, here, Letterman style, are my Top 6 Lessons Learned from my first DNF :

6.  ‘Questionable’ texts could lead to entertainment on the course– Let’s just say the entertainment involved a rubber chicken that made noise when it was choked.  Mile 4.5 was full of laughter.  This has nothing to do with my DNF, but it was a highlight of the day.

5.  Carry a handheld water bottle– Again, nothing to do with my DNF, but wanted to mention it.  No water stop congestion for me this time around.  I was able to cruise through the first few stops and then just grabbed cups to fill my bottle once it got low.  I had tested this in some warm up races and really liked it.  Better hydration (I had Nuun in the bottle) and no slow downs.

4.  Race in your hometown whenever possible- If the unthinkable happens and you have to drop, it’s so nice to know there are any number of people you can call to come pick you up rather than having to wait for the “post race course sweep” to get back to the finish. (Or in my case, you could just literally run into them on side of the course.)  

3.  Run with someone who knows you very well– I’m fortunate that my husband runs with me. When I started hurting he was there to encourage, stop and help stretch, and then finally, allow me to know it wasn’t my day and finish strong without me. He’ll tell you he was having a serious internal debate over whether to just yell at me to suck it up or take the high road, but he said he could see the pain in my face.

2.  My Friends and Family Rock– This was a very public BQ attempt for me as I was basically shouting it from the roof tops.  That means, my failure was very public.  Enter more calls, texts, tweets and emails than I thought possible within hours of the race.  Friends who were tracking online called truly concerned because my “dot” stopped moving.  I feel unbelievably blessed by this outpouring of support.

1.  Know your true identity– Dropping out was one of the toughest decisions I’ve had  to make racing wise.  It sucked.  I felt like a quitter.  BUT, I’m not defined by 1 race or even by running.  My true identity rests in Christ.  That he decided this wasn’t my day let’s me know it will be that much sweeter when it does happen.  No, it doesn’t mean I’m not sad or haven’t cried, but it’s helped me recover (emotionally) a little quicker.    

The good news is we don’t think it’s a serious injury.  According to my sports doc, my glute locked up causing my hip joint to freeze.  That’s been “fixed” and will be tested with a run tomorrow morning.  If all goes well, the come back marathon will be booked (there are several options on deck).  If there’s pain, well, we’ll cross that bridge if/when we come to it (I know what it could mean, but don’t want to focus on it right now.) 

I received an email that said “Our victories are more fun, but our struggles are more useful.” Here’s to taking this struggle and turning it into something very useful – a sweet victory soon!

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About fashionablemiles

30-something runner, triathlete and wannabe fashionista
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22 Responses to Houston Marathon (non)Race Report

  1. Leah says:

    The discipline you exercise to just train for a marathan (regardless of your time) is hugely impressive. Even more impressive is your dedication to qualifying for the Boston is even more so.

    Buckets of respect and best wishes for the next one from this non-runner,

    Leah G

    • Thanks, Leah! I was in my own little world on Sunday so apologies if I missed you along the course 🙂

      • Leah G says:

        Um, I considered it MY job to look for you. Wow, there were a ton of people. Also, I just realized that last sentence in my original comment is grammatically incorrect. Sheesh. Go, Holly, go!

  2. Corey says:

    First of all, it is very courageous of you to write a (non) race report, despite the DNF. I know with all of your hard work & training, it must have been (and still be) heart breaking. I truly think you will look back and know you made the right decision. And I can’t wait to hear about the comeback plans! And YES to #5 – absolutely I completely agree with you! (oh and Nuun rocks!). Question – what did they do to “fix” the hip? Just curious. Also, I would love to know more about said questionable texts and chickens. Sounds fun!

    • Thanks- it’s definitely been an emotional couple of days. As for the fix, I see a sports chiropractor/PT so he released the glute trigger point (uses a percussing massage machine to loosen the spot) then worked on the facets (sp?) in my lower back (basically involved a big tug on my leg to pull the hip joint back into position- sounds painful, but it really doesn’t hurt at all). He also did lots of assisted stretches and a series of resistance exercises to help my muscles/joints naturally release. I’m amazed at how much better I feel today (I also iced my back, yes, back not hip, last night).

  3. Terzah says:

    Fingers crossed for your test run! I totally agree with the victories vs. struggles sentiment. My Boston quest has been so much fun for me, but so much slower than I pictured it being in my dreams. In addition to being more useful, the struggles are also more strengthening in the end, I do believe.

    And I like your tip #5, too–I had a little bottleneck in the first water stop of this race and almost tripped over somebody. The ones later on were no problem….

  4. Aron says:

    You 100% made the right choice here. There was no reason to push through and do more damage. Instead you were SMART and saved yourself so you can try again sooner rather than later. I hope it is nothing serious and you are back at it again soon! I know that wasn’t an easy choice to make but congrats on making it and seeing the bigger picture.

  5. bearrunner says:

    Hey dont take t to hard, the best of the best DNF.. Just think how better prepared you will be for your next marathon now that youhave this behind you

    cheers

  6. kilax says:

    You totally made the right decision so you can keep training for a different race! And it’s great that everyone is being so supportive and caring! I hope your test run tomorrow goes well!

  7. Laura says:

    I was stalking your blog wondering how you did! I am so sorry to hear about your hip… I can imagine how frustrating and disappointing that would be! You definitely did the right thing… it’s incredibly frustrating to nurse an injury for weeks (been there a few times), and you already put all the training in, so you can definitely pull off your 3:30 later this spring! (By the way, nice work staying on pace as far as you did–proof you trained well.) I’m tempted to sign up for a spring full too… curious what you have in mind!

    • thinking my do-over will be more “winter” than spring (3 weeks), but could still be convinced to run a spring with you…Woodlands in March?

      • Laura says:

        I tried to reply to this before, but it doesn’t look like it went through… sorry if it’s a duplicate! I was considering the Woodlands full, but don’t think I have enough time to get more long runs in… maybe the Dallas full in April. 3 weeks… are you thinking the Austin full?

  8. This makes you not only a serious athlete, but a SMART one. Take it from me, *never* ignore your hip when it’s yelling at you. ~ That’s real life, and I love that you share the good, bad and the frustrating with us, your devoted blog readers. Even on your injured days you can run circles around most people in this world! I’ll be waiting for tomorrow run report. Crossing fingers and saying some prayers!

  9. cynthia says:

    I just started following your blog so I didn’t know this was a BQ attempt until now. I really enjoyed your honest recap and post race perspective. I love your #1 lesson learned…it took me a long time to learn that lesson myself (in a different sport). actually it took losing a really great relationship for me to finally learn that lesson – you are a lot smarter than I am. Sounds like you are on your well on way a BQ.

  10. Page says:

    Shit happens. Life happens. We hold our head up high and move forward. Keep your chin up – you’ll get that BQ and when you do, it will be that much sweeter.

  11. TriCourt says:

    How about Philly in November? 🙂 I’m sorry about the injury but think it’s best you decided to drop. That would have been a miserable last 8 miles and at least the injury is temporary. Thanks for posting the non-race report. It’s good for people to read and it was probably good for you to write.

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