DNF

So it happened.  I finally got injured.  I’ve managed to run injury-free for three years, and during the second half of the Brooklyn Half Marathon yesterday, disaster struck.  I’d texted a handful of friends in the morning and said, “If I don’t make it through this race, you can have [insert item here.]”  I’d even Tweeted that I was pretty confident that the next 13.1 miles of my life were going to suck.

I hadn’t wanted to run, really.  But I figured that if I got up and did it, I would feel better.  It was a stunning day; the course was amazing.  If I was going to get the feeling back, it might well be at the Brooklyn Half.

Wrong.

One of my arches had been bothering me for a while — but that wasn’t extraordinary, and it didn’t bother me when I ran.  It was just a familiar ache/pain — a consequence of living in a big city; walking a lot; wearing flats with little support; wearing heels that stretched in the wrong ways.  A few days in supportive shoes and the nagging was typically gone.

Yesterday, however, was the day that my body had had enough.

What I’ve discovered, and tap-danced around, but refused to FULLY admit until now is that a few months of taking a toxic chemotherapy drug is actually akin to a catastrophic illness.  There is no “mind-over-matter” here.  There is no amount of cross-training, or light training, or weekend running that will undo the effects of that.

It will wipe out everything you’ve done for three years.  It will, however, make your non-working thumb feel a whole lot better.

So.  There’s that.  And I have finally internalised that.

Somewhere around Mile Seven or Eight, my right foot just…gave out.  I’ve never had something “give out” during a race, so that was a strange feeling.

I stopped at the Mile Nine medical tent for some ice.  All I wanted was to remove my shoe from my swelling foot.  At that point, I thought I might be able to walk the last few miles.  But after I got back out on the course and made it to Mile Ten, I had to stop again.  GAME OVER.

At least at Mile Ten, they had donut holes.  Contrary to all of my healthy eating, I love donut holes.  I never eat them — and I particularly love those sprinkle-encrusted ones that are impossible to find on the East Coast, but that are abundant in my parents’ town in California.  But even still, give me a Munchkin any day.  So while I wept, and consented to be “swept” (which is the term for when you pull out of a race, and they pick you up in a bus because you can’t finish), the medics plied me with donut holes.

This story is not that exciting.  What gets marginally more exciting is that I have to get on a plane in eight hours for a whirlwind bit of travel.  And when I mean whirlwind, I mean, three countries in five days; 13 hours of meetings a day; lots of walking.

How does one manage this?

The answer:

One crutch.  A bag with a cross-body strap instead of a rolling suitcase.  Fed-exing documents in advance so I don’t have to carry them.

Packing light.

Hoping for the best.

I guess the thing that gets me is that I pride myself on never quitting; never giving up.  I don’t think I take the easy way out of things.  Admitting that I physically could not go on; being unable to even walk to the finish was humbling, frustrating, but in a way liberating.

I wear a necklace that says “no” to remember to set boundaries with people…but sometimes I think I completely forget to set boundaries with myself.  I run roughshod over my own needs.  I am so obsessed with being perceived as a strong woman, or, at least, as not being taken for being weak, that I manage to hurt myself, or screw up the easy stuff in efforts to get the hard stuff right.

So, no, I did not finish — contrary to my constant bragging about how I “always finish.”  I did not get a medal.  (The Evil Hamster of Self-Doubt in my head is gloating about that.  Have I ever written about The Evil Hamster of Self-Doubt?  That’s another post for another time.)

But, in the overall scheme of things, getting a medal seems small this allows me to properly rest and heal and run another day.  And let’s not kid ourselves — who needs a medal and you can have donut holes?

2 Comments

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  1. I am hardcore impressed that you made it to Mile 10. That being said, I’m also glad that you got into the wagon and let them ply you with glazed delights. There are many more finish lines ahead – this is but a season.

    xx

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