Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My First Ever DNF

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 think.)

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 what? I don't know. 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.

And then....

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 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 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.

Until today.

Because before, I was in control of me, and me alone. It was all about 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.


Jessica said...

Great race report - and what an important thing to learn so soon. I don't think I learned it until my first was actually born. It wasn't real to me until that moment.

Run for Chocolate said...

Great job, Sara! You are officially a grown up today! Try eating crackers before you even get out of bed, it might help. Also, other good for nauseasness foods are raspberries and watermelon. But with my middle son, I threw up everyday for nine months so you just never know! And don't worry, you'll be runnnig before you know it!

KC said...

Hi -- I'm new. Love reading your blog. I became a triathlete last summer when my son was 2.5. Before that, a marathoner 3x over and a life-long runner.

Be flexible and easy on yourself -- you won't ever have to give up your altheticism, but you may have to adjust what you think is reasonable.

I will enjoy reading along for the rest of your pregnancy!

Wayne said...

Wow, what fantasic news, congratulations!!

With my wife due to give birth to our newest on Sept 6(ish), it'll be great to follow how you are doing at the same time.

RunBubbaRun said...

I glad you are okay.

Your life will change in so many ways.

A race is just a race, there will be more of them in your future.

Just think someday, you will be running across an IM finish line with your child. It will be a wonderous thing..

Look at all those women pros out there with youngsters. You never have to give up your dreams, just a tweek here and there..

Jennifer P said...

KC said it perfectly -- be flexible and easy on yourself. I remember my first race before I figured out I was pregnant -- I peed three times in a 4k/30k/4k duathlon -- on the course! I have no pride, no shame....

Whatever said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

Wow, I almost cried reading your race report.

It's okay, Sara. Things are going to change a bit, but think of the inspiration you'll be to your child once he/she learns what a fighter you are :)

jbmmommy said...

I wasn't nearly as fit as you when this pregnancy started but I've also tried to deny that I was going to have to change to accommodate my body. I'm still trying to be flexible myself, but it's easy for me to tell you to go easy on yourself. And don't woory too much about future plans, take things as they come. I know there's no way I could ever think about an Ironman with an infant at home. Especially if you're nursing, but that may be more information than you need at this point. Take care.

E-Speed said...

Awwe you made me tear up! So glad you wrote during all this and kept the posts to share. This is a very exciting time for you!

Joy | Love | Chaos said... I'm cryin. Geeze, and I'm at work. Thanks, Sara....


Janet Edwards said...

I enjoyed reading this a second time around! It really is about someone else now who will be so lucky to have such wonrdeful parents!

You made the right choice that morning and I was proud of you for it!!! Still excited for you!!!

21stCenturyMom said...

It's the new you! And yeah - it is much easier to train and race when the baby is on the outside instead of the inside.

Kim said...

i am so proud of you to:
1. actually get up in the morning and get your butt to the road race,
2. to actually RUN the first mile as quick as you did,
3. actually run and run and run, until you couldn't run any further, AND
4. to make the decision to stop!

you are going to be a great mommy!

Triteacher said...

Proud of you for DNF'g! Seriously.

Glad your gag order has finally been lifted! Lub, dub, lub, dub - Baby's heart is not the only one beating with excitement for you. :)

Kurt said...

You need to give yourself more time to adjust. Better to DNF than push yourself while Prego.

You have plenty of time left to do other races.

By the way I have a name all picked out for my blog niece.

Afternoon Tea With Oranges said...

Those decisions are tough, Sara. No matter how slice and dice it, when you've been living a competitive, "never say die" lifestyle like you have been for a long time now - it's tough to make the right and rational decision. But you did, inspite of the conflict going on in your head. I am so proud of you!! I know the delima, and it's so hard. You don't want to give in too much, because you're used to pushing the limits. But when you've got another life in your hands, it changes the whole ballgame. You are gonna be fine. You are going to be a wonderful mother AND triathlete AND teacher. But the "mother" will always come first.

Everytime I come to a crossroad like that, I try to picture myself 20 years from now, looking back on the moment. And that usually makes the decision easy, even though it might not be what the competitor inside me wants to do at the moment.

UltraMamaC said...

as much fun as your comeback will be, it will pale in comparison to the first time you run next to your child as *they* cross the finish line in their first race. Trust me, watching my son finish his first triathlon was more rewarding than any of my 5 marathon finishes (OK, maybe not the first one -- that was pretty cool -- but close!!).


Fe-lady said...

Yes you WILL be a mom and a triathlete-just take her easy for these few months and every you will get to exercise after the little one is born will be so fantastic, believe me!
This stage will pass and you will be able to run up until, well, probably the seventh month. Then it gets cumbersome and you have to pee a lot....
An Ironman race will feel so at the bottom of your list when you hold your bundle of joy in your arms for the first time! Congratulations.
(There will be many future races...I have DNFd and been last in things...but I wasn't pregnant at the time! At least you have that excuse!)

jeanne said...

wow, that was a great report. good for you, listening to your body, as hard as it was to do. Hopefully the nausea will pass, if it hasn't already, by the end of the first trimester.

Rae said...

Great race report, it's tough to make those decisions but you did the right thing.

So did you type all these and just save them in draft all this time??