And my last, if I have anything to say about it!
Okay, we're starting to enter the realm of "I am in denial that my body's going through MASSIVE changes and I'm just going to keep going full speed ahead! Yeah! That's it" phase. Looking back in my journal, the first week of February was when some of the nausea started, but it really didn't get AWFUL until around Week 6. In fact, this race was the only time I tossed my cookies. I guess I should count myself lucky!
Nonetheless, this was a humbling experience. My first ever DNF, served up for your reading pleasure.
From February 4, 2007
Well, I had my first taste of it today. What it's like to be a parent.
I headed out to the Dirty Dog 10K, to be greeted with HUGE wind gusts and a HIGH (yes, HIGH) of 14 degrees today. I just didn't feel quite right about things. For starters, my stomach's been going absolutely haywire. I haven't thrown up (good news) but I am feeling like I need to....almost all the time (bad news). So, I just didn't feel quite up to it. BUT--I've never been one to let a little weather slow me down...let alone, STOP me from doing anything I sent out to do. So, I drove to DaisyDuc's place to meet up with her and then drive an additional half hour away from there.
I grabbed my Ginger Ale and my pretzels. "I can do this. It's just a 10K. You can't let anyone know what's wrong, either. It's too early."
I had never made it out to DaisyDuc's cute place. Man, she wasn't kiddin'! I laughed at the yellow "Watch Out for Amish Buggy" signs I saw on the way, and also chuckled a bit when the Cleveland radio stations went out near her place. But Mr. Daisy and her have done such a nice job fixing up their century home--it's so cute!
I still wasn't feeling well. I decided that I'd better let SOMEONE know, just in case...in case what? I don't know. Just...in case, I guess. So I told Daisy last night, when I was starting to question even participating. She was very excited and swore to keep my secret.
We drove to the race venue...a 10K on snowy covered trails, around a lake that had many people out ice fishing. Now THERE'S a sport that just does NOT sound appealing to me. Then again, they were probably out there sitting in their little huts thinking the same thing about us trail runners getting ready to go for a 6.2 mile run in ten degree weather with a wind chill below zero.
We took off! I was excited to be there. I felt like me: Sara the runner, the one who loves a great race, the one who loves the snow. It was fun to race, even though this wouldn't be a "race." I didn't even have a watch. It was kind of nice. "I can do this!" I thought. I stuck with Daisy for the first mile or so.
Gurgle. Sick feeling in pit of stomach.
Uh oh. I slowed down.
It didn't go away.
I slowed down some more. People started flying by me. Competitive Sara got a little hurt. "What are you doing?! You can go faster than this! Look at all these people passing you!"
But I just didn't feel like myself. I started to get sick...and asked a volunteer where we were. Maybe we're close to halfway?
"Sorry, I have no idea."
Great. Keep going....it can't get any worse, I thought. The trail was beautiful. On a normal day, I'd eat this up. I'd be laughing and high fiving people and joking with runners around me how nuts we all were.
But it's not a normal day. This is the first time I've ran since I found out I was pregnant.
And I could tell that I wasn't my normal self.
The snow, as beautiful as it was, was about a foot (or more) deep in some places. I felt as if I was running up a sand dune. I could tell my heart rate was high, so I started to walk.
"What are you doing? This is nuts. Just walk. RUN RUN RUN YOU LAZY ASS! WHY AREN'T YOU RUNNING, IRONMAN? But I just don't feel right...burp. Walk...your heart rate is up, dumbass. Walk. YOU'VE NEVER, EVER QUIT IN A RACE IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE! ARE YOU ABOUT TO START NOW?!"
I saw another race volunteer. "Excuse me, can you tell me where we are?"
"Sorry, Miss. I have no idea."
I had no watch. I had no gauge of how far I had gone. What sounded like a great idea at the time was proving to be wrong. What would my friends say if they saw me at the finish line if I didn't really finish? What would they think?
But what I really wanted to know, was what would I think?
I stopped and coughed--it must have sounded pretty bad. I must have sounded like I was going to hurl.
"Are you OK? Are you cramping?" asked a nice girl who passed me.
"I'm OK. I'm pregnant." I told her. For some reason, I just felt like I needed to tell her. To explain my walking. My poor performance. I needed to justify it. She congratulated me and told me what I knew...to just take it easy.
The trouble was, it's harder to take it easy when the wind chill's below zero. All I could think about was getting back to my car, and, dammit, the fastest way to do that is to run.
Beth caught up to me eventually. And then, Carol. And I knew now I had a decision to make. I thought about it. Hard. Tears welled up in my eyes. I saw the sole water stop and asked them how much was left.
"About 2 1/2 miles or so? I'm not sure."
I thought about what it meant to stop. How, up until this point in my life, stopping meant quitting. It was unacceptable. It was not even an option. I have had all kinds of weather thrown at me: from the 95 degree humidity of Musselman 70.3 last summer to the 38 degrees and pouring rain at the Fall Classic Half Marathon. I finished despite that, and even finished well. I trained all summer for Ironman, the biggest physical challenge of my life so far. I trained in the heat and humidity and had a few long rides in the pouring rain, and was surprised as most of us were when we got a race day that was 54 degrees and pouring, not the 94 and sunny like we all thought. And I still did it. I adapted...somehow I made it.
I've never, ever not finished a race.
Because before, I was in control of me, and me alone. It was all about my race...my body...my mind. I've always been able to shut up my mind when my body is complaining...when it's hot, cold, when I feel nauseaus, when I hurt.
And I think I finally realized, out there on the trail this morning, as tears welled up in my eyes for just a second, what being a parent will be like.
It's not all about me anymore. Ever again.
I knew I could make it through the last 2 1/2 miles. Sure, I could do it. I'm mentally tough enough. I can put one foot in front of the other and have forward motion for 140.6 miles, that I'm quite certain I could make it through 2 1/2 more here.
But, if something went wrong with my baby because my stubborn ass was too pigheaded and selfish to stop, I'd never be able to live with myself. And suddenly, that made my decision VERY easy.
"I think I need to stop." I coughed and heaved a bit, and as soon as I stopped, I felt a little better.
A nice race volunteer gave me a ride to the start. I told her what was really going on, because I needed to tell someone. It felt better. She said what I already knew--that I was doing the right thing.
I made it back to the finish line just as Daisy Duc was finishing. She looked at me, confused for a minute, since she knew what she was seeing was impossible. I smiled, and said, "Not one of my smarter moments." I told her what happened, and since she knew, she gave me a big hug.
I let out just a tear or two as I said, "J, I've never, ever not finished a race I've started. This is a bit of an adjustment."
She hugged me back and said quietly, "I am SO excited for you."
And it was another reminder of how things have changed, even in this short week. A little foreshadowing of how much changing is to come.
I DNF'd my 10K today. On my terms. Because today, it wasn't all about me. And, in some ways, it never will be again.
I'll still race...I can't wait for my first comeback race this Thanksgiving at the Nakon 5K. But--I have a feeling that my goals will change. That I will race less for the hardware and more for the enrichment. I'll be picking races that fit into my life first and PR list second. This, for a girl who's done nothing but race with PR's and goals in her mind, is a little scary.
I strongly believe I can do Ironman Florida 2008. This is still my underlying goal. But I think I will get a nice shock-lesson in time management here this year, and my first DNF today has helped me realize this.
I can evolve into a Mom Triathlete. I believe that a Mom Triathlete can still be strong and competitive and brave...but she also must have the guts to realize that sometimes she needs to stop in order to keep moving forward.