It started yesterday when I tried to complete a portion of my ultra marathon training miles. In the morning I ran the Undy Colo-Recal Alliance 5K with Kay and Gaby. We were in full butt-er-fly costumes including wings and masks, but I forgot to wear my knee braces. Mistake! When I got home I ran another 3 miles in the heat of the day without having first eaten or having hydrated after the morning's race--it was a brutal, not stellar run. I then tried to sneak in another 5 miles at 5:00 pm in hopes of getting somewhere near the 15 miles I needed for the day's training. But I knew I needed to be reasonable since I had a half marathon the next morning. Problem was, last night my knee started to bug me a bit.
I tend to try and be careful when I have injuries, but I didn't want to miss this race. I only completed 3 miles before I realized that my knee was going to pose a bigger problem for me than I expected. By mile 4, walking was becoming harder. I love this race so much, that I decided to try and just walk the remaining part of the marathon and take it a little easier than I had planned. I attempted to use some spray to freeze the area, and I even stopped at the aide station at mile 6.5 to have someone stretch and massage the kinks out. I pushed as hard as I could, I kept going as far as I could, but at mile 8 my right knee decided it had had enough, and one final step stopped me right in my tracks. I was done!
This was tough for me! For those of you that have been following me over the years know that I do not give up easily. I was humbled to realize my body could give out on me. I knew I had limits, I have just never actually reached that limit. I was humbled, I was sad, and I was frustrated--my first DNF (Did Not Finish).
It is hard for me to describe the dejected feelings I experienced as I watched some of the final runners move past me as I sat on a folding chair waiting for the race van to pick me up for my ride to the finish. When I saw the truck that had been collecting all the race mile markers pass me, all the cones collected in another truck, and as they broke down the water stop around me and picked up the volunteers, I tried not to cry. Silly, right? I was trying to put it in perspective--this little blip was not the end of the world, it does not define me, and I hope it does not affect my confidence. I have never NOT finished a race--in some ways I have taken my ability to race for granted.
I think that the thing I need to focus on is the beauty of what this day represented. This was a day for Kay and her friends that love her to celebrate her return to health by running through the streets of a city that brings her so much joy. Even when she was at her lowest points in her cancer journey, she could go for a walk or run at the beach and it would instantly raise her spirits. I might not have finished, but a whole group of those that loved and prayed her back to health were able to experience the same joys that Kay and I have running this race. I don't want to ruin the amazing experience everyone had by having a pity party over a little set-back.
And in my frustration with my temporary injury, I almost failed to see and feel the love that was extended to me by all my running buddies that refused to leave me by myself until I threatened them to move on. Every one of them would have sacrificed their races to make sure I was safe. One by one as they ran up behind me, they all spent a long time refusing to move on without me. This is what I need to remember about this race. I was surrounded by love, I was surrounded by beauty, and this is just another little hurdle for me to overcome. I am temporarily down, but certainly not out.