Well, they say every runner gets one sooner or later. DNF. Feels like RIP. Surrendering to this race was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
It was a gorgeous day for racing – cool temperatures with a cold start. The sun popped out early, and the wind felt good in the first half before we hit the headwind coming back up the shore.
I never gave my hip a second thought until I felt it pull in mile 19 or 20. Uh oh. I tried to continue but it just wasn’t happening. Today was not going to be my day. I was still on target for Boston at that point, and I tried to run through it a couple of times, but it just didn’t work. I started walking and made it 2 more miles before I finally decided to stop being so goddamn stubborn and ask for help.
I’ve never been very good at giving in. But what was the goal? Another medal with a somewhat-respectable finish time? I don’t need that. I need my hip. I need to run again. I needed to not be so proud.
Three energetic women stood cheering at a residential corner in Deal. I limped over to them and they immediately became my mothers. They sat me down, bundled me up, and called for someone to come pick me up. While we waited, one of them told me the inspirational story of how a similar thing happened to her husband in mile 18, and he went on to run Boston 9 times. These wonderful women assured me that next year they would be standing on the same corner, cheering me on as I run past. My angels.
The EMT’s arrived and rolled out a stretcher. Seriously? But they insisted, and when I tried to get up on my own, I realized maybe I did need them to carry me around. I shivered incessantly for the next hour or so as they transported and moved me from here to there. They were great.
I touched base with Coach (he is my coach, of course) and he got me through the initial disappointment admirably, as is his way. He inspired and knew exactly what to say – he’s a remarkable Coach.
I realize that taking a risk to accomplish something amazing means that failure is a possibility. My training has not only strengthened my legs and my heart, it’s made me stronger all around. I can handle a loss once in a while if, when I win, I win big. And as long as my Coach is proud of me for giving everything, then all is well.
And in the end, the things I hold dearest to my heart remain strong and true. One foiled attempt at a Boston Qualifier is not going to ruin my wonderful life. Not a chance in hell.
So now I get to take a little forced time off from my favorite hobby, treat myself gently and kindly, and continue to be so very fucking happy. Not a bad deal.