My first DNF and what comes with it…

Hi. I’m so sad. But I’m happy, too. Also proud. Angry. Frustrated. Hahahaha. So many emotions over here right now!!

Sunday was my first DNF, which for those who aren’t familiar, means Did Not Finish. There are many old sayings about finishing no matter what, crawling across the finish line if necessary, doing WHATEVER it takes, etc, which are total bullshit when real pain is involved. But still, versions of these quotes were swirling around my head for the good part of an hour before I had to make the call.

I have a confession to make (mostly to myself, LOL). I AM INJURED. FML. There I said it ahahaha. The denial has been going on for over a month. I’ve been experiencing moderate to sometimes intense lateral knee pain during most runs, especially long ones, and after. Not every single day or sustained, but it’s sore or painful in the morning, while running, going up and down stairs, hovering over the brake pedal, and even walking when it’s flared up. Pretty sure this stems from the excessive sitting I’ve done since going back to school. Close to an hour in the truck each way, plus 4-6 hours of sitting in class daily, depending on what we’re doing. As my friend Karmen says, “sitting is evil.” She says this because it’s true. It shortens, tightens and weakens multiple areas that are important for running.

On Sunday morning the marathon began and I felt good but a bit paranoid, wondering how it would go with respect to the right lateral knee. By 4k I felt some sensation, but nothing worrisome, and the rest of me felt great. I continued to be aware of tension in the problem area and so I didn’t want to walk through aid stations – a characteristic of ITBS is pain upon stopping-restarting. It kept getting more and more noticeable, becoming uncomfortable, and then at a water station ~24k I paused briefly to properly drink, and as I resumed running I felt pain to the point that it took my breath away.

FUCKKKKK!!!!!“…I saw two spectators look at me like, whoa she’s going down, but I felt it out and got to jogging, hoping it would calm down, which it just barely.

At this point I started the chat in my head. Totally fine with slowing down – this was not a goal race and I was doing it simply because I love this shit. But I did slow way down and it still hurt badly! I had tears in my eyes, a combination of pain plus just knowing this was a bad sign. Then I asked myself if maybe I could truly jog, like sloowww. I don’t care if it takes me six hours to finish this thing. But that didn’t work either. Every step felt like I was doing harm to my body. I took some walk breaks but it still hurt, as walking still requires knee flexion..

By now I was on my way south to pass City Park for the second time (it’s a two-loop course) and I asked myself if I could make it twelve more kilometers safely. The answer was no 😦

It really was the best choice – to stop repetitively flexing and extending a joint that was causing me pain, and which was getting more aggravated and inflamed with every step. So I called it. I walked onto the grass in the park and started un-pinning my bib. It was so sad, like an extremely emo music video or bad part of a romantic comedy. LOL. There was no ugly crying but I wanted to.

I felt embarrassed, which is ridiculous because I made a wise, responsible decision. But still. I folded my bib in half so no one could see the colour, went and collected my gear-check bag and put on my sweatshirt quickly and put away my sunglasses and headband. I was soooo sad you guys. I am sad. The inner critic spoke up and made it worse:

“you SERIOUSLY couldn’t have gone twelve more kilometers?”

“how bad could it have actually hurt?”

“there must have been a way to finish?”

I limped out and waited for my friend Joey to finish, happy cried for him and sad cried for me. Had a brief visit with another friend, Gary, who smashed his sub 1:30 half goal, and slowly made my way to the truck.

Now I’m sitting here (with my right leg propped up) writing about this. It’s still bothering me. I’m mad at school, because that’s where I sit all day. I’m frustrated with my body because it isn’t allowing me to do my favourite thing in the entire world. I am so upset that I didn’t cross the finish-line, yet proud for being responsible. I’m happy that what’s going on can very likely be healed with rest, different therapy approaches and strength training, but I’m fuckin annoyed that I have to now initiate operation get un-injured!!!! I’m also worried about how long it will take to get fully better and how much fitness I’ll lose. Sigh.

In one day I got a reality check about so many things. The importance of rest. How crucial it is to address little things that feel off before they turn into bigger problems. The fact that I haven’t actually taken even a partial off-season in the last two and a half years, and now I’m being forced to. How hard it is to check the ego and call it off in a race or even a training run. To honestly differentiate between discomfort and pain, and between what’s safe or unsafe.

It’s interesting to me that I was beating myself up about this, and still am a little. If a friend of mine told me this story, I would commend them for making a smart choice and not causing more injury or prolonging the rehab period. Why are we mean to ourselves, but not others???

So now..I’ll get to devising a rehabilitation plan that will include a lot of yoga, swimming, clam shells and pool running, if it feels okay. Getting better is a goal of its own, and great things seem to happen after set-backs so I look forward to what will happen after I take this time to heal up. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, some things I’m thankful for with respect to the weekend’s DNF:

  • it wasn’t a goal race
  • nothing is broken, torn, detached, etc.
  • I can still swim and do as much yoga as I want
  • I will rest and recover, ease back into it, and hit the next running related goal HARD

I hope you had an awesome long weekend, and if you raced, I hope it went well! So many I people I know ran fantastic half and full marathons, smashing goals related to both time and mental strength. For anyone dealing with an injury right now, I get it, and for anyone who has or does find themself in a painful DNF situation, remember what I’m telling myself…

Listen to the body.

There are many, many races to come.

Rest and recover now so that there’s the choice to continue in the future.

 

TTYS xoxoxo Jamie

 

 

 

 

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