>A Bitter Pill

>Today’s post was supposed to be a race report.  A nice, tidy recap of a well-executed marathon run this past Sunday at the 4th annual 26.2 with Donna – The National Marathon to end Breast Cancer.  Well, it won’t be, because it wasn’t.

You see, Sunday I did something that I’ve never, ever, done before.  I dropped out of a race on my own accord.  On my own – without having an RD tell me that he’d “highly suggest I retire” from a race like happened at IMKY in 2009.  Nope.  This time it was all on me.

Let me tell you why.  This won’t be excuse mongering, nor will it be shared in the vain hope for sympathy.  I’ll just give it to you straight.  Why I chose to DNF a marathon.

The race started well.  I found a good rabbit to follow for the first several miles.  My pace was just about where I wanted to be for my “acceptable” pace – (as opposed to my “it’s a GREAT day pace).  The run out to the beach was fun & highlighted by helecopter flyovers, lots of honking cars, and lots of spectators.  The 2.5 miles run on the beach were breathtakingly beautiful.  The crowds were spectacular.  My half-marathon time was acceptable, especially given the fact that I’d been fighting a cold for more than a week.

After about 15 miles, the run took a decidedly poor turn.  I had a couple of coughing attacks.  My left knee started hurting.  Badly.  I stopped and stretched my ITB and then ran some more.  At 17 miles, I decided I need to walk some.  At first, it was just the aid stations.  Pretty soon, it was walk a little while, stop to massage the knee, stretch, and then run again.  More coughing attacks.  I stopped at mile 20 to stretch.  When I tried to go again, I couldn’t.  The knee pain was tremendous.  At that point, I weighed my options.  Finish the remaining 6.2 miles – and potentially really injure myself, or call it a day.

I decided to call it a day.

Part of me is tremendously disappointed.  Quitting is a tough thing – a bitter pill to swallow.  I could have probably finished the race.  Certainly my time would have been significantly worse than I would have been happy with.  But at what cost?  I don’t know if I would have really injured my knee — at the time, I wasn’t sure if there was something already wrong with my knee given the pain.  And yet, my pride is bruised. 

I woke up this morning, and had almost no knee pain.  My legs aren’t even tired today.  These things add to the bruised ego.  I’ve second-guessed myself today.  At the end of the day, however, I’m still positive I did the right thing.

I’ve got two “A” level triathlons this year.  I know that I’ll be healthy for them.  Had I finished the run, I’m not sure I could say that with the same level of conviction.

What did I get out of this year’s 26.2 with Donna?  I think several things….I got a long run in.  I got to run in a BEAUTIFUL part of Jacksonville.  I had the opportunity to run with, and for, people who have battled breast cancer.  I helped a cause.  I learned how to make a really tough decision about dropping out.

Tomorrow I’ll post some of the highlights of the race – facets of the race that will cause me to run this race again.

11 thoughts on “>A Bitter Pill

  1. >Joel, I'm sure it is hard to "DNF", but I you got out there and you gave it your best effort. Your body was not ready on that day, at that time. I know that you will rock your tris later this year!

  2. >Having pulled myself out of IMKY last year, I know where you are coming from. It was a bitter pill to swallow at the time and I didn't even have any ailments going into the race.There is no substitute for getting well healed. So, get well!Cheers!

  3. >Joel, Congratulations on separating yourself from the "others" in the athletic world. I have always considered an endurance athlete someone with the characteristic to be self disciplined. It's not about just keeping your pace when someone blows by you, but the capability of calling it a day when you are at risk for further damage. You say your ego is bruised? I say what I see is a confident ego that is far stronger than the average person who can win the war, not just one battle. Congratulations!!!

  4. >You listened to your body and that's what matters. You could have kept going and wound up knocking yourself out for tri season, and how awful would that have been? It's tough, but don't beat yourself up too much.

  5. >Joel, it takes courage to stop and reevaluate your race. You absolutely did the right thing! You are a great person for me to emulate!

  6. >Thats the art of the sport anything can happen at least you can learn from it.This will make you want the next one even more well.A comment I read on another blog during the week comes to mind.."Move Forward and Persist"

  7. >I've had to DNF in a marathon and an Ironman. I made the call both. I lived with the disappointment. BUT, in both instances, I knew I was making the right choice. You did too… never question that (easier said than done, I know!)

  8. >You have to trust your gut. It's not worth hurting your season with a Feb marathon. leave the past behind and look ahead to a GREAT year!!

  9. >Joel.. I skimmed this. Can't read it in full as I am entering a marathon not in my top form… uh, Sunday. πŸ™‚ It's gonna hurt… there are hills and I'm a bit nervous. Trying to take it easy… Liked your installment about the things you liked though. πŸ˜‰ Every race is a learning experience for sure!

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