What’s the only thing worse than a DNF? A DNS. Did Not Start. This almost first time marathoner found this out last week and over the last few days I’ve been experiencing all the feels that go along with it.
After a particularly ache-y run on Wednesday night and subsequent chat with my physiotherapist and Coach Larry, I made the super tough decision to throw in the towel/bib. If 8k made me limp, I really wasn’t interested in a 42.2k sufferfest and all the potential consequences for weeks/months to come. A big factor was that it would also mean I’d miss all the runs on my upcoming trail running retreat in Collingwood which I’ve been looking forward to for months.
A million thoughts have been going through my mind since deciding not to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon – the single thing that has taken up the most space in my head over the last 6 months. Mostly, unbelievable disappointment since I’ve been counting down the months, weeks and then days to race start. Not getting to start is like looking forward to an amazing trip you’ve been planning for months, and then missing your flight. I feel like I have somehow failed myself by not putting in the proper training to prevent injury. I feel like a quitter because, aren’t marathons supposed to hurt? I had serious envy of everyone who got to have their moment, mixed with that same pang of pre-race excitement /nervousness because they also worked so hard and I wanted them to have their best run.
All of these feelings, on top of the entire City reminding me at every turn that everyone was racing except for me, with signs, freshly placed porta-potty’s and road blocks, not to mention Tweets and Instagram’s of race clothing choices and carb-heavy pre-race dinners. Now the very much deserved post-race medal selfie’s are taking up serious real estate in my social feed.
I’ll admit: there were tears. I had the route map posted to my whiteboard at work, and my training plan there to remind me how far I’d come. I actually choked up when I visualized myself crossing the finish line. Actually. I’d said no to countless summer nights out with friends, traded morning snuggles for long runs, didn’t wear heels for 4 months (I’m sticking to this) and ran my way through the hottest and stickiest summer on record. All for what?
Warning – this post is about to get sappy.
(Insert quote here re its about the journey, not the destination. Blah blah blah) Now that I’ve had a few days to digest my DNS, I have had time to reflect on how much just signing up to race changed my life this year. I discovered my serious love for running and everything that goes along with that (mostly the gels – I LOVE them). I learned that just because it’s going to be 40 degrees by 8 a.m. ( for my American friends, that’s really really hot) and 199% humidity, doesn’t mean I get to skip my long run and I found out that the heat won’t kill me. I discovered that running trails is way different than hiking them. I started drinking coffee ( I doubt there is any correlation here). I saw more sunrises I care to admit and felt so lucky to start my day like that Every Damn Time. I seriously loved every minute of the training. The best part though? Finding out how unbelievably supportive the running community is and diving right in. I Anyone can sign up for a race, but not everyone has it in them to put in the work and I’ll give myself a little pat on the back for that.
After deciding not to race, I still forced myself out to run club on Saturday morning (I think mentally to make sure my knee was still sore – YUP), went home, cried again, then picked myself up and dutifully made my race signs.
On Saturday night, Alex and I had a great night out, I had my first glass(es) of wine in weeks, and when we passed the start line on the way to dinner at Momofuku, I (pretty much) held it together. I didn’t sleep very well that night, likely because of my wine/sake-fuelled race anxiety.
Luckily, the next best thing to running a race is cheering at one. I saw most of my running crew go by at our cheering post, and was so excited to see how strong they all looked. Cheering them on, witnessing Ed Whitlock crack a sub-4 hour marathon at 85 and beating the 85-90 year old world record by 30 minutes (!!) and getting to be part of the day (just in a different way) made the sting of not racing that much easier to bear. At the 39k I even met up with one of my Running Room buddies who was struggling a little bit, and ended up running him in for the last stretch of the race, while pushing my bike along with me. In the end, I got to see the finish line, just perhaps not the way I envisioned it.
Now, its time to look back on my training, and focus on strengthening and healing my hip/knee so I can get right back into it. I’m so looking forward to getting away with what I imagine will be an amazing group of ladies up in Collingwood this weekend, and get out for a few (easy) trail runs. Onward – HO.