Sunday, June 18, 2017

The DNS: There's a First Time for Everything

Yesterday was the day I was supposed to run marathon #5, Grandma's Marathon. I signed up for Grandma's right around the time I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Loaded up with steroids at the time, I was feeling good and figured I could go ahead with my plans to run this spring race in the north woods of Minnesota. Heck, I wasn't going to let this disease get the best of me! I was going to show RA just who was in charge.

Right on! RA had other plans for me. While I continued to run through the spring, my endurance continued to decline. I was DNFing all my runs--I was struggling to even run a mile-- and frustrated with myself, I made the decision to discontinue my training and not run Grandma's.

It was not an easy decision but it felt like the right thing to do. Immediately after canceling my plans to run the race, I felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Instead of training for a marathon, I shifted my focus to the May race I also had signed up for, the Door County Half Marathon. I began doing run/walk intervals with success and satisfaction. Running became enjoyable again. I've never been good at listening to my body, but I was having no regrets about my plans to DNS for the first time ever.



One of my friends asked me if I was sad about not lining up for the race. I would have to say that no, I wasn't sad, but I did have some regrets. Some might call me stubborn, but I've always prided myself on not being a quitter. No matter how many people tell me that I did the smart thing, it never feels good to give up a goal. I knew that I wouldn't be able to run the race I wanted to run with the current state of my health. Now that I've had time to adjust to my slower pace and those run/walk intervals, I'm looking to the future. I do believe I have one last marathon in me.

The only FOMO I felt about not being in Duluth this weekend is missing out on the camaraderie with my VRBs. Kim, Rachel, and Gina were there and I would have loved being with them. Back in the spring, Gina and I made plans to pace each other to the finish, me to my BQ and her to a 4 hour marathon. I pulled out of the race and Gina struggled with injuries. Neither of us achieved our lofty goals. But Gina finished with a 23 minute PR and her emotional finish line video just brought tears to my eyes. Redemption is mighty sweet and I would have loved to have been there to share that moment with her. Rachel also PR'd--another big one, I might add, and her enthusiasm was palpable in her social media posts! Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?
I won't lie. This was a little tough to look at.
I reflected on all of this as I ran this weekend. On Saturday morning, I slogged through a hot, steamy 4 miler. Heading out the door, my goal was to run this one without walk intervals. Mission accomplished. I maintained a sub-9 pace too, but I did have 2 potty stops. PRO TIP: Don't eat salad with sundried tomatoes and garbanzo beans the day before a run. After this run, I felt yucky the rest of the day. The heat was definitely on this week and I was grateful for my run/walk intervals, which I utilized on my other 3 runs.


Not only affecting my pace, I felt the humidity in my joints as well. I'm probably the rare runner who hasn't had knee issues and this is truly the first time that I've had knee pain and stiffness. Demonstrating the duck walk to my patients has become quite difficult for me! I wouldn't be clearing me for participation in school sports. Yoga on Monday was hard, but as the class went on, I loosened up. Wednesday's class was much easier. More than ever, I see what a difference yoga is making in my mobility.


Steph and I met with Becky on Thursday. We worked on glute strengthening by doing deadlifts and back extensions on the GHD, as well as swinging on the rings (my personal favorite). I just love the creativity in these workouts. After we left, Becky taught a class and had them flip the tractor tire for a mile (taking turns, of course!).


It was a great week of workouts. I just want to put it out there: I'm feeling really good right now. I know I should knock on wood or do the sign of the cross or something--but the truth of the matter is, I'm content and happy where I'm at. I'm learning to appreciate the good days and push through the bad days. Thankfully, the bad days are becoming fewer. I get to run! I'm a little nervous about RnR Chicago because most likely that's going to be a hot one, but I've got my run/walk intervals to keep me moving forward. I'm in a good place now, and that's the best place to be. No FOMO! The DNS didn't hurt...much...



Tell me about the time you had to DNS! Or DNF....haven't done that either. I guess there's a first time for everything, right?

I'm linking up with Holly, Tricia, and Tara for the Weekly Wrap Guest Host Series! Be sure to link up with Tara and show her some love while she mans the controls!










89 comments :

  1. I'm not a racer, just a handful of 5K events, so no, no DNS or DNF, but I have let go of my sole unmet goal, a sub-nine minute mile (PR is 9.07). Not nearly your level of disappointment but on some tiny scale I understand. It's a weird mix of feeling bad vs. it's okay.

    I have not been able to run, again, for two the past two weeks. I ran today [walking home from church I almost threw in the towel, then thought of your words to me yesterday, "Never quit" and pushed myself] It was warm and humid for my two mile run. The last quarter mile was rough but I stuck with it.

    My goals, too, have shifted. As I inch toward turning sixty-five, if I can continue to run two miles two or three times a week I will be happy.

    It's a constant adjustment and, like you, I am grateful that I can still run.

    Oh, yes, and my daily yoga [I had, I am not able to take classes] and stretching definitely help to keep me a bit more limber, a tad more flexible. It's all good.

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    1. Sounds like you're in a good place with running right now. Whatever you can do, is better than not doing anything at all!

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  2. Wendy, love the post, as always. I race several times a year, but my goal is always to just finish upright and smiling (as I've written before), so I have yet to have a DNS or DNF, simply because the bar is *really* low, but manageable for me. When I have trained and run for PRs, running has turned into a chore, and that's not why I run. I think I need to incorporate more yoga into my workouts, so keep posting those poses on Insta, as they inspire me! :)

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    1. It's funny because running for PRs has never been a chore for me until now. But it's hard to push yourself to do something that's not attainable and that's what I was doing. It's fun to get back to basics and I'm enjoying it. I won't lie--I still do love running fast!

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  3. My first marathon DNS was Rock N Roll NOLA, which was also supposed to be my #5. My biggest DNS was definitely the Boston Marathon. And then I ceded the opportunity to run it this year. My goal is far bigger, far more important. I'm at the point where I don't know if I will ever be able to requalify, but if it is important enough to me, I will find a way to run Boston.

    There will always be another race. You don't get another body, and life is not meant to miserable. The only thing that a DNS can hurt is your pride.

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    1. I still think you have a Boston in you. You've got lots of time. Me, not so much! That's one dream that I'm having trouble letting go!

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  4. I'm so glad you're feeling good! I've had to DNS some 5ks this summer that I had already signed up for and once I got injured right before a marathon and had to pull out... the marathon is definitely harder to not feel some regret! But you also have so much to look forward to.

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    1. I think I'd be ok DNSing a 5k. You're so right--the marathon is a much tougher DNS!

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  5. We definitely missed you this weekend and I so wished you were there. Buuuuut, I know how liberating it is to make a decision to DNS a race you aren't ready to run. I took my first DNS this spring and it seriously felt like the world was lifted off my shoulders. I'm just so glad you're able to run and you're in a good place!! xxoo

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    1. Grandmas' was a tough one for me to DNS--even knowing how hard it would be for me to run it, knowing that you and the other ladies would be there made it that much harder!

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  6. It's never easy to make the decision to DNS but often it is the right one. You have been feeling so much better lately but imagine how you might feel if you pushed yourself to put in those high mileage runs these past 2 weeks.

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    1. Yeah, pretty sure I made the right decision. It was a hot race and that's never a good thing!

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    2. this is one of many things I adore about you. you make a choice. you move FORWARD. you dont look back and get stuck in WHAT IFs.
      xoxoxo

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    3. Oh, what's the point in what iffing?

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  7. I've had BOTH a DNS and a DNF. Neither were fun, but both were liberating and for the better good. I think I forgot to tell you...although I did not get a 26.2 PR (Not even close LOL), I did get a Grandma's course PR (3 minutes better than last time)! That totally made my day after the bumpy ride on the struggle bus in the final eight miles ;-)

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    1. I'm glad that you found a silver lining in this race! I know it was tough for you.

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  8. I think you wouldn't be human if you didn't have regrets about not meeting up with friends, but knowing when to fold up is way more important than pushing too hard. Not that it makes that much easier, either.

    I haven't actually DNS'd, yet, but I also haven't been running as long. I did have one race I wanted to do last year, but I procrastinated on signing up and in the end knew it wasn't the right time to run it.

    I had several friends running it, but it happened to be a very hot day (although it usually is) and they all bailed -- except Darlene, of course, because she's crazy that way.

    I won't be doing Vegas. Much as I love it, as I'd love to meet up with bloggers again, this body has worked pretty darn hard this year (and has more work ahead of it) and sometimes you have to cry uncle!

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    1. It just wasn't the right time for me to do a marathon and I'm glad I called it when I did!

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  9. I think I mentioned before that the only race I DNS was Big Sur. Of course I was bummed at first but to tell you the truth I was totally at peace with my decision and never looked back. Its not even one I have on my list for the future. That's just not where I am right now. Im glad you are in a good place right now too. Congrats to your friends who PR-ed. They did look like they had fun! -M

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    1. Isn't it interesting how one race can be a bucket list, must-do race for one runner and not a big deal for another? I wouldn't have DNSed Big Sur for anything! But how you felt about that race was how I felt about Grandmas. It was ok to call it.

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  10. I had to DNS a half marathon last year. At the time I felt horrible, but after a few hours of thinking/reflecting, I knew I made the right choice.

    I totally get how you feel about missing the chance to meet up with friends, but you'll have more opportunities this year to run races, meet up with friends and have fun all at the same time!

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    1. I've got RnR LV and that is going to be fun!

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  11. I DNS'd a race that ended up conflicting with my son's HS graduation - and DNS'd the same race when I broke my foot hiking. Both of those decisions were easy. I think a DNF would be tough unless I was really hurting, but it can be the smart thing to do too. Glad you're mostly at peace with your decision - it really does seem like it was the only one to make.

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    1. Those kind of DNSs would be easier. My decision was a little more difficult because I wasn't sure what condition I'd be in at race time.

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  12. I loved this post. I know it's a hard decision to make to not run, and even if it's the right one it's still hard. I'm really glad you're not sad about it. When I dropped down to the half on my last race, I was like you - I felt like a weight had been lifted. But, at the same time I was super disappointed about it. A friend pointed out to me that there are other races. This was just not the one I was meant to run. That really helped me because I had been so focused on that one for so long that it was hard to let go of. I'm glad you're okay about it and hopefully there will be no more DNS for you! I hope you have another great week of workouts and just a great week!

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    1. Thank you Tara! It took me quite a while to make the decision to DNS, so that when I did make it, I knew it was going to be the right one. And you are right, there will be other races! I have a half in 3 weeks, so that makes it a little less painful!

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  13. Life is a fun journey made more fun by running, seems like you do the right thing for you at the time. I've had a couple DNS, 5K I didn't remember signing up for and a trail race with a foot of snow the night before and it would have really been a bad idea to run based on my goal at that time. Two in one year because my in-laws took us on a cruise (which while that sounds nice, a week on a boat with all of them was not my idea of a vacation, so I lost a week of vacation, and two races). I've had 3 DNF, 2 for the same race!! Guess that was just not my race, but I may try it for a third time, I dunno.... I've had to pull out of a race and give up my spot due to injury. This is running this is what I do for fun, it doesn't pay the bills and when it starts getting stressful or emotional then I know I need to take a few steps back and calm down.

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    1. That's why I don't sign up for a ton of races. I pick the ones I do very carefully, I train for them, and I make sure I have fun too! I learned all I needed to know from my first marathon and I never ever want to be that stressed about a race again. You're right--it doesn't pay the bills. So it should be something we want to do.

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  14. I haven't had a DNS, that I can recall, but I would have in your case, for sure! Props to you for making the wise, but difficult choice. Maturity is SO LAME sometimes. Hopefully you got drunk instead! xo

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    1. Ha! I agree with you--maturity is lame. I didn't get drunk--altho it sure was tempting!

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  15. Is it weird I don't think of you as a quitter at all with this DNS? I think I told you I DNS'd 2 fall marathons (Philly and Twin Cities) both in the same year due to a cranky hip. Wth was I thinking signing up for 2?? Personally I think DNSing for health reasons is wise. Seriously what good comes of pushing through?

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    1. 100% agree! Nothing good would have come of that.

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  16. Hope the stiffness does not get worse for you. I know yoga helps a lot with muscles and joints. Best of luck!

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    1. It's funny because some days I wake up feeling like I don't have it at all--but others I feel like I"m 90 years old!

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  17. This just wasn't the time for a marathon for you - and it's good that you recognized it. Much better to run a race that you're physically prepared to and enjoy it than to run a race where you struggle too much because of outside circumstances. Your next marathon will be a good one, I'm sure.

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    1. I've got that half in July--that will be a test of those run/walk intervals in the heat!

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  18. I know how hard it was for you to DNS to this one, but it really was the right decision to make. Think about what kind of condition your body would be in if you had done it... how much time you may have had to take off from exercise all together.... Keep enjoying your daily runs and daily workouts... that's what matters most

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    1. So true--and I am enjoying "just" running! Yoga has for sure taken on an added importance in my life now.

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  19. I've been lucky to not have a DNS or DNF yet, knock on wood. Sounds like your workouts are going well. So happy to hear you're feeling good! Just gotta keep moving forward and stay positive, you never know, your next marathon might go better than you think.

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    1. I'm sure it will because I will only run one if I'm adequately prepared.

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  20. Ive had several DNSs due to injuries and its never easy. I always end up thinking about being there on that, day. Its really too bad you missed out on seeing Km, Rachel and Gina. But Im glad that in general running is going well for you!

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    1. It's funny because now for me, it's all about the party, and the hardest part was missing seeing my pals! That and the bling...

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  21. OMG that last meme - LOL!!!! And seriously Wendy you have such a great attitude. I cannot imagine how hard this year has been and, I know you've written about how hard it has been but, you also keep moving forward with gratitude for what you CAN do. I think you are handling all of this with so much grace and humor and I'm not sure I would be able to do the same. Good for you!

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    1. I am really grateful that I can keep running and yoga-ing! But now the interesting thing that's happening are the people telling me how bad "so and so" has RA that they had to give up everything...oh, are we going to play that game? Do I tell them how aggressive my disease is? SMH.

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  22. I think the first time I had a DNS was in 2015. We were signed up to run the Honolulu Marathon, then I fractured my patella in October. Honolulu has a lot of meaning to me, since it was my first marathon ever, so I felt bad about it for a while.

    You'll get back there, if that's what you decide to do. The mental strength is more than half the battle (the right meds for RA may be the other half lol) and you certainly have that.

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    1. Time will tell. I'm just grateful to run!

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  23. I have tried to train twice for a spring marathon and wasn't able to make it due to injury..it is annoying, but I realized later I wasn't in the right place to just show up and try...sometimes you just have to accept where you are. I am glad you are enjoying your runs! Gina's video was a tear jerker!! I hope your half goes well for you :)

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  24. My only DNS was a biggie. It was a tough pill to swallow to train for a marathon only to be injured two weeks prior. You definitely are not a quitter! I think you made the decision you needed to at the time. I do think you have another marathon in you. When and Where?

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    1. At least I had time to make the decision! That made it easier in a sense that I felt like I gave myself every chance to see if I could run it.

      We'll have to talk about 2018!

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  25. You are NO quitter for sure! No shame in playing it smart- we want to play forever, right? I have not had a DNS or DNF yet- but we all no I believe I have sent a poop world record, oh yay, I'm proud! LOL! Chicago does sound like a hot one! Keep smiling I'm so glad you are feeling better!

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    1. I do want to play forever--you totally get me. Poop and all!

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  26. I've had to DNF once and I definitely think a DNS is better. You made the smart (but hard) choice. This weather, man....UGH!

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    1. 100% agree! That was for sure the one thing I wanted to avoid--the DNF!

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  27. I had to DNS back in 2013 when my ITBS was at its worst. I hurt not running, but I went down to cheer since my cousin and her husband were running the same race. I signed up for it before I even got ITBS, and I knew there was no way I could run it.

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    1. ITBS is a beast! You just never know when it's going to sneak up on you. Sounds like it was a good decision.

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  28. I haven't had to DND but I had a whole year with not much running (bored ankle & stress fracture) - zero halfs that year and you know how not racing would affect me. But we survive and move on and things got better and they will for you too. Even if you only run shorter races. You are running and you are still darn fast.

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    1. I'm hoping to get back to form--aka no walk intervals! but hey, they're better than not running at all.

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  29. DNS and broken ankle** although it could mean did not die and I was bored LOL

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  30. It sounds like you are in a really healthy spot mentally and that you absolutely made the right decision. Congrats on a strong week of training and being able to cope with a DNS. That's not easy!

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    1. Especially since I"ve never had one before!

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  31. Wendy, I love your spirit, spunk, drive, insight, honesty and transparency! I'm sure it was tough to see your "results page", but the satisfaction you feel in knowing that you are finding a way to still enjoy running while fighting and standing your ground against this disease must far outweigh that little twinge of disappointment. You are inspiring so many others through your journey! xoxo

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    1. Well thank you! I just want to keep running. I will find a way!

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  32. Yay for a great week of workouts and running 4 miles sub 9!! Good to hear you are in a good place right now.

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    1. It's nice to feel content with things right now.

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  33. So glad you are feeling good NOW. Important to take care of yourself!

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  34. My first DNS was Grandma's in 2012! I didn't DNS because of an injury or anything physical. No, we decided to move and so the decision was made to stop training and focus on preparing for the move. A part of me does regret the decision, but not the end result. One year, I'll make it back to MN to run this race. It's a definite bucket list one for me.

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    1. How interesting that you had to DNS Grandma's too! I read the stats--apparently I wasn't alone--2000 other people DNS'd. I found that a little odd.

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  35. DNSing is never easy. I've done it three times. Once due to health and twice due to insane schedules and stress. It was always the right thing to do, which helps a little. You're still kicking ass and taking names though when it comes to that RA. Crossfit. Yoga. Running? You're a boss.

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    1. I really want to kick as and get a BQ. That will be the icing on my running cake. Can it happen? Stay tuned.

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  36. I had my first DNS this past weekend too. I was supposed to run a trail half which I switched to a 10K before I found out I had a fracture. As long as I don't DNS Chicago, I'll be happy! RNR Chicago was hot and humid when I ran it but you should be acclimated to the warm weather by that time right!?

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    1. I had no idea you had a fracture. Heading over to your blog to read more!

      Acclimated to hot weather? Does that really happen?

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  37. I've had a few DNS. Mine were smaller races so I did not care too much about it.

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    1. I always care...I hate paying for something I don't use.

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  38. I had a few DNS races last year due to injuries and it sucked. One race I ran a 5k instead of half and really enjoyed and didn't feel like I missed out. FOMO is hard sone times!

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    1. You aren't kidding! It's hard to be on the sidelines.

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  39. You did what was best for you and your body! I say bask on the pride of that, some don't know where to stop, and there is a fine line on that....

    Wait, didn't it rain at the last Rock 'n' Roll Chicago? I hope you get good weather!

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    1. I've never run RnR Chicago--July can be pretty brutal here. The weather has been all over the place, so who knows what it will be like for my maiden voyage?

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  40. I know that this was a very difficult decision for you to make, Wendy. Its so hard to listen to our bodies and pull the trigger when we know that we really need to. Keep reminding yourself of that, and remember that there will be other races that you can run when you're body is feeling more up to the challenge.

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    1. I'm definitely up for a half. But a full? A half is not half of a marathon, that is for sure!

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  41. My 1 DNS was for a very similar reason to years (tentatively diagnosed with RA, but no one has figured out for sure what is wrong). The race was only a 10K/5K, but I was in the midst of a flare and had to admit that racing even that far would probably make it worse. I know I'm not capable of running a race "for fun" and would push too hard.

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    1. I'm learning all about running for fun and it's not a bad alternative, even for us competitive types!

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  42. I have had a few DNS, usually for an injury or illness...they are never easy, but sometimes the best choice. Glad you listened to your body and did what was good for you.

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    1. It was definitely the best choice but not an easy one!

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  43. I want you to know that YOU pushed me to that finish line! YOU were always there with me during that race! YOU were on my wrist with my wrap. I feel like I've known you for years! Love you lady! :) I still get emotional thinking about Saturday and I'm tearing up just writing this post. :)

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    1. You are making me cry all over again! Gina, Rachel and I have already made a pinky swear to do a northwoods race next year--please tell me you're in!!!!! Love you back <3!

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  44. I have had a couple of DNS's due to injury. It's frustrating for sure, but in the long run it was the best decision for me. I'm sorry you couldn't make it to Grandma's but I'm happy to hear that you've been having solid runs lately! Hopefully we'll get to meet a race one day!

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