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!