Throughout my adult life I have been identified by several different sets of initials…

  • B.A.Sc. when I earned my Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Science;
  • E.I.T. is what I was called when I first graduated and was an engineer-in-training;
  • P.Eng. is the fancy designation I could add to my name when I became a Professional Engineer; and
  • SAHM which is what I’ve been for the last three years, a stay-at-home-mom.
But DNF is a whole new one for me and I can’t exactly say I’m thrilled about it.  In fact, although I wholeheartedly believe it was the right choice, I’m still kinda trying to come to terms with it.  Did. Not. Finish.  Hmm, that’s just not something I really ever do.  I always finish stuff.  
And what gets me even more about taking a DNF is not actually the fact that I didn’t finish the race but the fact that it means there is actually something bigger going on.  Yup.  I think I have to accept it.  I’m injured.  For realz, yo.
Aside from my short little run on Tuesday, which went pretty much okay, I rested for the whole week.  It was heartbreaking to pass up on hill training Wednesday night but all my running friends agreed that I’d be better off to rest instead of taxing my achy little leg with a hill workout.  
My plan for Saturday’s Run for the Honeywagon half marathon was to just go there and give it a go.  I didn’t want to completely skip it because for the most part, my leg wasn’t hurting me.  It was hard to tell if it was going to give me grief if I ran.  I knew that I could start the race and if it just hurt too much, I could always just walk or quit altogether.
So I did just that.  I travelled down to Bellingham with Solana and we did our usual pre-race stuff.  She was getting ready to take a huge new PR but I was just preparing to treat this race like an easy training run since I was doing it in place of Sunday’s scheduled 19km.  
We met up with another friend from my Run Club and did our usual pre-race photos…
But it wasn’t too long into the race that I realized things just didn’t feel right.  Sigh.  I was having that pain right in the top of my calve and kind of in the back side of my knee.  Since I didn’t exactly know what is injured and to what degree I decided to try a few things to see if they’d help.  I was actually keeping a pretty good clip so I slowed down.  Didn’t help.  I walked a bit too.  Didn’t help.  I even tried trying to focus on really good form and trying to fire all the right muscles.  Didn’t help either.
I really didn’t want to quit.  In all of my years running and with all of the crazy injuries and problems I’ve had going on with my back and my hips and running into poles and my problems after the kids, I have never, ever quit a race.  It was a bit of a mental hurdle to get over but once those three little letters crept into the back of my mind they just didn’t go away.  And since neither did the pain in my leg, I decided I should just do the safest thing and quit.  I would never be able to forgive myself if I continued on and ended up making things worse.
I chatted with the next volunteer and found out I was only about 3 miles away from the start if I took a few short cuts.  I figured I’d be okay to jog slowly or walk the rest of the way in so I turned my race number around and headed back…
After loping along and passing the next volunteer and having the huge winds picking up, I gave in and accepted his offer of a ride back to the start line.  It totally sucked but I knew I was doing the right thing.  I have far too many big things coming in the next few months, I don’t want to even risk not being able to run them.
After I got back, I headed to the car and changed out of my sweaty clothes.  I also went into the gymnasium for a little refuelling, I did after all run about 8.5km before I pulled myself from the course.  And as I was standing there stretching I looked up to see this sign posted on the school’s gymnasium wall and it just seemed really appropriate for the moment…

The upside of DNF’ing this race was that I was able to be there and watch Solana come in and take down that PR she was aiming for.  I also got to see our other friend David come in with a huge PR as well.  Being able to watch my faster friends finish is something I’ve never been able to do.
So it was a sucky day because I took my very first DNF but it was still a fun day because I was there with friends and even made some new ones.  I’m not happy I had to pull myself and I don’t like to say that I “quit” the race because I think it was a very careful decision and in no way related to “giving up”. Sometimes as runners we have to put our pride aside and make the tough decisions in order to make sure we’re still able to reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves.  But it’s hard.  And sometimes the love of running and the satisfaction of racing and knocking off great workouts and improving is just so strong and hard to put aside when the alternative is resting and recovering.  But in some cases resting is what our bodies need so much more.  And this is one of those times.
Tomorrow I’m going to see how quickly I can get in to see my physio so hopefully we can sort out what this calve/knee pain might be.  I am praying it is nothing too serious and that I’ll only need a few weeks of rest to square it away.
I’ve alluded to some super exciting running news in recent posts and I’m planning to let the cat out of the bag in the next day or two.  Having an injury has unfortunately come at a terrible time because I’m so excited and motivated and mentally ready to embark on this next running journey but my start is going to be a bit slower than I planned I guess.

So that’s the story.  My first and hopefully my last, DNF.

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  1. Cindy    

    this is EXACTLY how i felt after my disastrous half at the goodlife victoria…i was so mad because i didn’t finish, and seeing the DNF behind my name really pissed me off. of course i was so thankful i wasn’t hurt and people were so incredibly kind to me that day, but not being able to complete was something that still niggles me because always finishing what i start is something that i really pride myself on. onward and upward!

  2. Solana Leigh    

    I know how hard not finishing this race was for you. I’m proud of you for not only making the right decision, but for also not being a grumpypants the rest of the day. I know this is tough for you right now, but I also know what a strong person runner you are. These 3 letters do not define you, there are an unfortunate day, and that’s it. I’m sure that you will be back in your runners soon, and crushing more PR’s and goals for many years to come. But next time you even think about doing a 26 km run, it’s not happening!! The 26 km curse is your enemy. Enjoy the rest time (I know, I know, easier said than done), but I know you will come back stronger, and with even more of a drive to succeed.

    So proud of you.

    -S aka BeastCoach

  3. Runner Leana    

    Oh no Nikki, I’m so sorry that you had to pull out. It is such a tough call to make but you made a smart decision. It can be tough at the time, but you have such a great year of racing ahead of you and being healthy for that is the most important thing. A DNF doesn’t say anything bad about you or your ability, but it does say that you are smart. You knew not to push it and make things worse. That is a difficult thing for us runners to come to terms with (as I struggle with my own issues now too). Hopefully your physio will be able to help you figure out what is wrong and give you a plan to fix it.

  4. cathy    

    Hugs!!! I feel your pain.

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