You’re Being Stupid
By Adriana Strah
(WINDSOR, ON) – There are decisions to be made when you’re running a race: how to pace it, how to strategize or even, sometimes, to make the decision to finish it or to end it right now. The decision you make depends on many factors: how you’re feeling, your mental state and the amount of pain you’re in.
Then, after all these issues are weighed, you have to decide if it’s worth the potential months of rehabilitation and recovery or to just drop out. I’ve never had to make this decision. I’ve always felt great on race day. If I was ever injured, it was either right before a race, so I just didn’t run, or far enough in advance that I could get some chiropractic treatment in order to cross that finish line. Now, I must correct my statement from above. I’ve never had to make the decision to drop out of a race until this past weekend.
I had planned to run a full marathon and was prepared to put in my full effort. I had trained well. At the Run for Heroes they fired off the cannon and the group of runners started to surge forward. I felt fine.
My running partner Chuck was leading the way, weaving in and out of runners trying to find enough space for us to run and I followed him. I manouvered through pink shirts and cut by on the gravel shoulder to find a nice, safe, quiet space in the middle of about 400 runners.
We passed by the houses and conservation area, fields and creeks on our way into the town of Amherstburg and as we passed by the 5km marker I heard my brain say, “You’re done.” My body started to hurt soon after.
My inner thighs got tight and achy but I pressed on because this is what I do. I’m a runner! I can do this! The further we got from the start/finish line the more my body ached. The pain in my thighs travelled to my hips, then to my knees and finally my feet felt as though they were getting too big for my shoes.
After reaching the turnaround and seeing my dad, Chuck’s family and my boyfriend waiting to cheer us on, I got a wave of energy that didn’t make me run faster but it made me think I could run through this pain.
It sustained me right up until the sharp shooting pains went through my hip. As I tried to battle through three long kilometers of wanting to keep going, a little voice in the back of my head said “You’re being stupid.” I’m not saying it was my mother’s voice but it sure did sound a lot like her.
And so I stopped. Not without disappointment and definitely not without regret, but I ended my marathon run and earned my first, the dreaded: DNF.
On their own those letters are harmless. Used every day in conversation and correspondence, but put together they create a nightmare inducing situation for any runner: Did Not Finish. Right there, next to your name, for everyone to see.
When I would look at the times after a run and see the DNFs I never thought it’s because they couldn’t hack it. I always thought it’s because something must have happened on the route and my sympathies went out to them because I imagined it was probably a difficult decision to make or one horrible injury. Now I know.
It is probably one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.
The hours and even days after that DNF don’t ease the guilt of not completing the race because you don’t yet have the emotional distance. You need to give it time before you realize that it was the best decision you could have made and you will live to run again.
Plus it gives you a reason to run that same race next year. You can come back strong and smoke that route!
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