One of the most unique things about running is that no matter how many races you do or miles you run, there is always something new to experience. This past Saturday, I experienced my first DNF: Did Not Finish
Initially, this could be seen as a bad thing, however I am choosing to think of it on the positive side because that is exactly what it was.
I chose to run this race, located on the beautiful trails around Blue Marsh Lake in Leesport, PA because I was itching to get on some trails. It was also a really cheap race and had great reviews. The Naked Prussian marathon and 50 miler is the second race in a series of races put on by Uber Endurance Sports. A few weeks ago they held the Naked Bavarian consisting of a 20 and 40 mile event.
I should have run the marathon. I would have finished strong and had a good day out there. However, I got really excited at the premise of finally getting on some trails that I signed up for the 50 miler.
Before the race I told myself that my goal was to finish one loop (the course was 2 loops of 25 miles). I had convinced myself that dropping out of a race this early in the season was smarter than being injured. After that I was permitted to drop at any point based on how I was feeling.
The race began at 7:00AM on April Fool’s Day. I stayed the night with a few SHVP teammates in Philly (shout out to ERIN! The pizza was amazing!!). That meant a 2 hour drive on race morning, but I was totally chill with that. Gives me time to wake up and eat something before the start. I had all my stuff ready and two drop bags for the midpoint. I was trying some new stuff this go around, some homemade energy balls. They were delicious and held up well. I also had my standard Run Gum and Barney Butter in my pack to eat between aid stations.
The first loop felt good until mile 20. I enjoyed the trails, how soft the ground felt on my feet and the beautiful day. It rained a lot the day before so it was a bit muddy in sections, but the trails drained beautifully. At around mile 20, I started to have some gut issues. Not sure what the deal was, but it made mile 20-30 mentally rough. I hit the halfway point in about 3:51, so at least I kept a good pace.
Finally at mile 30 I got in a good bathroom stop (that’s all I’ll say there) and things started to look up. I drank a lot of Mountain Dew at an aid station (I thought it was Gatorade but I’m not complaining) and felt a small spark in my legs. All that sounded good was nut butter and banana, so I ate a lot of that throughout the race, switching between almond butter and peanut butter.
At mile 37, my legs started to get that “uh-oh” feeling. They were telling me I wasn’t ready for 50 miles yet. After all, I haven’t run more than 20 miles since my 50 mile race in December, so that feeling made sense. At the mile 40 aid station, they were really starting to cramp. I talked to the guys at the aid station and told them I thought I should drop. They told me not to because I could walk the last 10 miles and still win. That’s how far ahead I was. I started out from that aid station, but immediately my quads said no. It was a firm NO YOU IDIOT DO YOU WANT TO HAVE A SEASON?!?!?!
So, I walked back to the aid station in tears and dropped. It was sad. I called my sister and teammate Sam and they were so insightful and kind to my blubbering.
To be honest, I accomplished my goal and got in a solid training run. I feel proud with the effort and will not let some arbitrary DNF define me. It was never my goal in running to have a perfect record. For once, I made the smart decision and stopped running when it hurt.
This morning, I could barely move, so I made the right decision yesterday. I don’t want to think about where I would be if I kept running.
I will definitely be back to those trail if not this year then next year. I was to train my body to be someone who can handle occasional high mileage weekends like this, but that will just take years of consistent running.
I would like to thank my team Red Newt Racing and Strong Hearts Vegan Power for all their support. I would also like to thank my sponsors On Running for the shoes I raced in, the Cloudadventure and Barney Butter for the race fuel.
Onward and upward (after I can move again)…