Sunday, September 3, 2017

My First DNF: Buffalo Grove Stampede 10k Race Recap

Disclaimer: My result in no way reflects on the Buffalo Grove Stampede. The Stampede is a well-organized race which is part of the CARA race circuit. This race attracts a fast field of runners.

My friend Steph and I have been running together since the beginning of the year and we thought it would be fun to finally run a race together. We signed up to run the Hot Chocolate 15k in October. Two weeks ago, Steph and I were talking about the Buffalo Grove Stampede, a race both of us have done in the past. There is a 5k and a 10k. We decided to sign up for the 10k. A piece of cake, right?



I picked up Steph at 6:30 and we drove the 2 miles or so to the park where the Buffalo Grove Days festival was being held. It was a cool morning, so once we parked, we sat in the car to stay warm. In front of my car, we watched a guy warming up. Most of the runners were jogging in the parking lot. Not this guy. It was weird and quite entertaining, with all kinds of movements and acrobatics. We'd never seen anything like it. My hamstrings just ached to watch him.

At the portapotties, I spotted a group of runners that I always see on the bike path. I walked up to them and introduced Steph and myself. I told them my portapotty story, about the guy barging in on me even with the door locked, and they said that is "the worst" portapotty on the path. Good to know! Naturally, I did the same thing at the race to some guy who neglected to lock the door. I didn't know that men actually used that little receptacle in the corner to pee, but I do now! Not my bad, but still kind of embarrassing. I quickly skedaddled into another portapotty to avoid any eye contact.


We made our way to the starting line. With the sun at our backs, it was getting warmer. The gun went off at 7:30 and we crossed the starting line. Steph was next to me and she was running at a pace that was faster than my legs wanted to go. Every time I pulled back, she pulled back next to me. The competitor in me wanted to keep up with her, the friend in me wanted to let her go. At mile 1 I looked down at my watch and saw my split: 8:28. This did not bode well for me. I wasn't feeling good. My legs felt heavy and my heart was pounding. After another half mile, I urged Steph to go ahead. I stopped to walk briefly. When I started to run again, I still felt sluggish but I pressed on.

The race took us through the preserve with the limestone path where we do a lot of training. Already the front runners were coming towards us. Everyone was sweating profusely. I saw Steph running towards me and she asked how I was feeling. Even though I felt pretty bad, I gave her the thumbs up. I reached the turnaround and headed back on the path. Employing my run/walk intervals, I still held out hope that I'd be able to salvage my race. My mile splits for miles 2 and 3 were 9:02 and 9:06, which I thought would be ok.

Mile 4 was where the wheels completely came off the bus. My heart was still pounding--I felt it fluttering in my chest and my legs felt completely wooden. I chugged along, stopping to walk a few times. Runners were passing me. Heck, the girls in the tutus passed me. That's when I knew I was in trouble. Mile 4 split: 9:27.

About a quarter of a mile into mile 5, I couldn't run anymore. My legs just wouldn't move. I thought about walking to the finish but I didn't even think I could do that. I walked over to a volunteer and asked if someone could drive me back to the park. I told her I didn't need an ambulance, that I was done. I started to cry. I told her this has never happened to me before. Even during my first Chicago marathon where I walked the majority of the last 8 miles, I crossed that finish line.

This was different. As I rode back to the park on the gator, I sat in silence, thinking about what happened. All these years of running long distances and it's a 10k that gets me my first DNF. I brushed away my tears and was grateful that the ride on the gator didn't take me on the race route. I don't think I could have handled that. I felt like such a loser.

Once I was dropped off at the park, I swallowed my pride and made my way to the finish line to watch the runners come in. The foursome from the bike path all came in before Steph, and 3 of the 4 took AG awards. Steph did well too, coming in a little over 55 minutes, which was good enough for 3rd in our age group! I was so proud of her.

So, what happened out there on the course? Why did I fall apart like that?

Was it my nerves? Not at all. I was with Steph, this is a distance I'm very familiar with, and I know the route since she and I run it. I may have put a little pressure on myself to do well, though. I've taken a few AG awards this summer and had hoped for one today.

Was it because I didn't eat breakfast? I rarely eat before a race and for sure not before a short distance race. I drink a cup of coffee and a glass of Tailwind and normally I am good to go. I didn't feel hypoglycemic at all. I don't think my fueling was the issue today.

Was it the wine I had with dinner last night? Was it what I ate? I had fish and a salad for dinner. I had 2 glasses of wine. Nothing out of the ordinary. I probably I should cut back on my alcohol intake. Do I think this contributed to the way I felt? No.

Was it the weather? Race conditions were perfect. It was 63 degrees and no wind at the start of the race. But the humidity was high and it was hazy. Several of the runners we talked with struggled with the humidity. But overall, I'd say that while the conditions contributed to my distress, I can't blame my failure on the weather.

Did I go out too fast? For sure. I knew my legs weren't feeling it and I should have listened to them early on when I could have salvaged the race. As one of the runners said to me, "races are lost in the first 2 miles and won in the last 2 miles". That is the truth and I should have known better.

Was it my shoes? Runners love to blame their shoes, don't they? I was running in a pair of Asics that were well past their prime. In fact, I knew that today was the swan song for this pair of shoes. They may have been the reason my legs felt so leaden. Or at the very least, they contributed to that tired feeling in my legs.

Was it my rheumatoid arthritis? Maybe so. Even though I restarted my RA meds this week after a 3 week hiatus for oral surgery, for the last couple of days I've been feeling achy and fatigued. Yesterday, I was really tired and tight. I did the SeaWheeze yoga video that I love with the hopes of it loosening me up. I think it helped but even as I write this, my hands are aching badly. I'm hoping it's not the start of a flare.

Could I have finished? Probably. I was 2 miles from the finish. At the time I stopped, though, I felt so crummy. I was a little worried about my heart rate and that fluttering sensation in my chest. My legs felt weird. During mile 4, I tried pushing through all that and I just couldn't run. So I don't know. Had I walked a little more and rested, maybe. Would it have been worth it? You know what? No. Which is why I threw in the towel. Had it been a half or full marathon, that would have been a different story.


I have no regrets about my decision to DNF. That doesn't mean I'm not sad about it. Someone commented to me that I "got it over with". I had hoped never to have to drop out of a race. In 25 years of running and racing, I've never taken a DNF. You streakers understand the significance of that! What happened on the race course today shook my confidence a bit. I've got that 15k in October and 2 more halfs this year. I sure don't want to experience another DNF. I need to do a better job of running my own pace, my own race, and staying true to my goals, which are always to finish and to have fun. When those 2 things stop happening, then it's time to hang up my running shoes.

I don't plan on doing that anytime soon. BG Stampede, I'll be back next year for redemption.

Have you ever DNF'd a race? Tell me what happened. I'm pretty bummed about mine. 

I'm linking up for the Weekly Wrap with Holly, Tricia, and guest host Montana.













79 comments :

  1. Oh I'm so sorry that happened to you. I have never DNF'd but plenty of DNS's and lots of money wasted due to FEAR. I didn't go to the Dopey Challenge this year because I wasn't trained and I was afraid my heart would give me fits. I wasted a lot of money but I guess I saved some too. My HR was out of rhythm almost the whole time I ran my one and only marathon. It was very scary, but it does happen a lot especially running faster speeds or longer runs. I hope you can rest and feel better. I think you will finish your other races no problem! You are one of the strongest people I know!

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    1. I have such mixed feelings about dropping out of the race. But I finally asked myself if it were a training run, would I finish? I knew the answer and that's when I stopped. As much as I would have liked to finish, it's a 10k and at the end of the day, the distances that matter to me are the half and the full. Unless, of course, I was going to AG....

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  2. I'm so sorry it ended this way, Wendy, but don't let it shake your confidence. It WASN'T worth pushing through and suffering through a 10k so yes, you did the right thing. You felt awful and who knows what your heart was doing. Better safe than sorry. Who knows why life dishing up stuff like this?!

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    1. Right? And yes, that's exactly what I told myself, that it was a 10k and I wasn't going to AG, so better to cut my losses and call it a day. No need to invite trouble.

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  3. Ugh, I'm so sorry. That sucks. But you totally did the right thing. If you weren't feeling it physically and mentally, it just wasn't your day. Shit happens but you're a great, strong runner and human. Don't even let this shake your confidence at all. It's a blip. xxoo

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    1. Dropping out is such a mental thing, though, isn't it? I hope to never do it again. But considering everything, I don't regret my decision at all.

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  4. I haven't DNFed yet but there has been a couple races that were a struggle to finish or included lots of walking. Glad you were safe and just called it because you felt awful. I know it sucks but it's better to not push it on a race that in the scheme of things doesn't matter much. Rest up, lady!

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    1. I need to get on the plan for those fall races. I'm hoping with a little focus and discipline, I'll get back on track. Thanks! <3

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  5. Oy, what an experience. I'm sorry that you had that experience, but no doubt you will learn what you need to and be back for more great races!

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    1. Oh, for sure. Sometimes we need a reality check and I'm pretty sure this was mine. Time to get back on track.

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  6. Oh, it sounds so tough but it also sounds like you didn't have much of a choice. You know yourself. We know you would have pushed through if it was as simple as that. Have you ever raced so soon after getting RA meds? Maybe that timing was off. Or maybe your stars were crossed.

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    1. I have run after getting my meds--since one of them is weekly, I was getting used to it. But I had 3 weeks off and I think that gave me some time to get back on the inflammation train. Boo. I hope it calms back down.

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  7. I had my first DNF last July. I had run a 5-mile trail race that morning, and this event was a 5K/10K challenge (that evening). The shoes for the trail run were old & a bad choice... my hamstring/glutes were totally messed up as a result. When I ran the 5K (12 hours later) none of my morning aches had neutralized & it was the slowest 5K I have on record, The 10K started about 30 minutes after finishing the 5K, and my gut told me it wasn't gonna happen but my pride refused to listen. Within the first mile I knew I was done. My form was so messed up (and I had that 12-hour ultra looming a week later). When I finally pulled over & turned in my timing chip a huge wave of relief washed over me. I was disappointed with that DNF, but proud that I didn't let my ego choose my outcome. I hope you're able to have better feelings about this after you've had time to process it... you are so much stronger than this unfortunate experience ;-)

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    1. I know I made the right decision but am I happy about it? No. There are a few lessons for me from this. I also learned that RA is bigger than me and sometimes I have to listen to it.

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  8. I should probably have at least one DNF - I pushed through pain and limited training to finish a half marathon for a medal! In my (somewhat) defense, it was a medley finisher's medal. I'd already done the 5K and 10K. I had to do the half, even though I was injured, right??? I wish I had taken the DNF when things got bad because I ended up making things much worse for myself. It is 100% mental. We tell ourselves not to quit all the time. I hope I am smarter (like you) the next time I'm in a situation like that.

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    1. I weighed all my choices and bottom line, it was a 10k that wasn't going to mean anything to me. It doesn't make that DNF any easier to swallow. But at a different distance, I might have made a different decision. Today, I made the right one.

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  9. So sorry to hear this. I haven't DNF'd yet but I've had my share of races that I've struggled through. Don't let this get you down! I know that you will come back mentally stronger and ready for your upcoming races. Pacing is hard especially in race situations and that is something that I still continue to work on.

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    1. I totally let my ego ruin this one for me. Next time, I'll remember to check myself before I wreck myself.

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  10. I'm so sorry to hear about your DNF but it really sounds like you made the right decision.

    Although I've never had a DNFm I think RnR Vegas should have been a DNF. I pushed through and ended up having to wear a boot for the end of the year last year. Definitely not a smart decision on my part.

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    1. I'm hoping that now I got a DNF out of the way that I can focus on LV and not have the same situation there. I don't want a repeat of how I felt today. I'm still feeling kind of icky. Finishing up here and I'm going to bed.

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  11. You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel bummed -- of course you do. I'll bet having to go off your meds was a big contributing factor. There is absolutely no shame in knowing when to fold up.

    And sometimes we come back stronger from the worst races.

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    1. I hope I come back stronger. This battle with RA has been really humbling.

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  12. I'm so sorry Wendy! You certainly did the right thing because you listened to your body. Health always comes before finish lines. It was one race... 6.2 miles. A blink on the radar in the whole 25 years of your running. And yes, you're exactly right ...when we push ourselves beyond the place where running is fun then it is time to switch gears. And here's something to look forward to ...most of us runners know that after every bad run, there's usually one of those 'cloud nine' fabulous feeling kind of runs just waiting around the corner!! Love & Hugs!

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    1. Ok, I"m ready for a cloud nine fabulous run! Say, tomorrow? LOL! I'll take it anytime it comes. Thanks for the love and support. It means a ton!

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  13. I want to send you a big hug Wendy! You're such an ambitious force,that's why this drop out is getting to you. I don't t think it's a bad thing that you're feeling sad, it's because you're setting high standards for yourself and you're not used to being defeated like this, especially in a shorter distance race. In 25 years of running I think you can afford to drop out of a race or two... we're only human and you proved your superhuman powers more than once my friend!!

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    1. Aw, Ilka, your words made me tear up again. Today was really tough for me--I've been doing really well, running and dealing with RA. To be handed a defeat like this set me back a bit. I'll be ok. In a way, it was a good thing because it made me take a step back and reevaluate what I need to do to accomplish my goals for the rest of the year. As I like to say...don't count me out!

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  14. I am so sorry that this happened to you and I can only imagine how you felt going to ask for a ride back. You definitely did the smart thing. Your long term health is just not worth it. A few years back, I did a half when I knew I should not have. My shins were killing me the whole week before but all my friends were doing it so of course I had to be there. Well I finished the dumb race in such pain and earned myself a stress fracture. I couldn't run for 3 months. Was it worth it? nope! There are always other races but you can't get back your health. You did the right thing but I know it may not feel that way yet. xoxo

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    1. I shouldn't have even run the race--but I didn't want to let Steph down. I thought I could muddle through but it wasn't going to happen. I'm hurting in every joint this morning. Damn.

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  15. So sorry about your DNF, but you're right to stop the race if you didn't feel good and you weren't enjoying it. I have heard of people saying DNF stands for "Did Nothing Fatal", and in the end it is better to stop and be okay to run another day sometimes. I haven't DNFed and probably wouldn't unless I was injured or sick... I would most likely finish no matter what if I started the race. BUT... I've also started and ran races that I did not want to run and my heart wasn't in it, just because I'd already paid the money and felt "obligated" to show up. Sometimes that's even worse because you're running when you don't want to and there's no joy in it. I'm glad you are okay and healthy and hopefully after resting up a few days, you will be back out there.

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    1. It really was kind of pointless for me to push through a 10k that was causing me so much misery. Sure, there's a part of me that wishes I finished, but the other part of me is ok with it. I'm really achy this morning and am debating going out for a run. If I do, it will be a slow run/walk.

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  16. Aww man Wendy I'm so sorry this happened. I have not had a DNF, but also know I've pushed sometimes when it probably would have been smarter to catch a ride to the finish. Who knows what your heart was doing. Not worth the risk. You'll be back stronger than ever!

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    1. I hope so! I'm hoping this flare passes quickly.

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  17. It's really easy as an outsider to brush it off, say it was just one of those things, don't worry about. And all of that is true. You had a bad day, that is all. It happens.

    I understand how it feels though. I have DNFed twice, both in the Rock 'n' Roll marathon in San Diego. Both times because my exercise induced asthma got out of hand and I couldn't muddle through it. Yes, I could have walked the last 10 miles or so, but as I told my self then, and I'll tell you now. neither of us have anything to prove. We've "been there, done that," so to speak, so one (or two) bad races will never define us.

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    1. You nailed it. I think that's the experience speaking--that's what helped me make my decision. Push through a 10k when there was nothing to gain? Not worth it.

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  18. I know what this feels like and it's awful. I had my first and only DNF at a half marathon a couple of years ago as a result of my asthma. I had spent the week before hiking in the mountains, in some minor wildfire smoke and it was a little bit smoky on the coast when I got home. I felt off the first half of the race, dizzy for a couple of miles, and then wheezing by the time I pulled up to the aid station at mile 9. I cried as I told the volunteer, a local cross country runner's mom, I was done. She said something about "living to run another day" that helped me. Us runners never take the decision to DNF lightly and it's often a worse idea to gut it out than to pull the plug. I'm not sure what happened for your bad day to end in a DNF, but it sounds like it was the right decision for you. Try not to feel bad about that.

    Since my club uses tear tags instead of chip timing, that stupid tag on my DNF bib was haunting me. I went to the next club race and signed up with that bib and ran a 5K in it. I finished in second place. You'll get your redemption, too. :)

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    1. You nailed it with that comment: "it's a worse idea to gut it out than to pull the plug". Yesterday, it was and I'm glad I did what I did. It wasn't an easy decision but all things considered, it was the right decision.

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  19. Im so sorry you weren't feeling well and had to take DNF, but it sounds like you made the right call. I haven't had a DNF but there have been lots of races that I signed up for and didnt start. You have plenty of more finish lines ahead of you!

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    1. I hope so! I have a few more races this year, so hopefully I'll get my redemption a few times! Onward and upward.

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  20. I am so sorry you had to go through this but to go 25 years without a DNF that is truly remarkable. It's very early on in my running career, but the lessons you have shared on your blog have been so monumental for me. I remember your post about chasing finish lines and not finish times, and about running your race. And I am always quoting you and chanting those words in my head. I was actually forced to do that at a 10k race I had on Saturday. You have truly inspired me as a runner and as a person, and this honest race recap has actually only added more to the many lessons I have already taken from you. That some day a DNF will happen, and it's okay. Sad, but okay. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to your next race xx

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    1. Oh wow, thank you! Your words mean a ton to me. My favorite bloggers are the ones who share it all--good and bad. I always like to think that I'm not the only one who is going through something. You've given me an idea for a blog post...

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  21. I'm so sorry :( But good for you for listening to your body!

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    1. I'm over it. Writing is so cathartic for me--and all these supportive comments made it ok. Now I can say, been there...

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  22. I've never dnf'd a race... I'm seriously concerned about it happening at Chicago marathon this year.... I think feeling a fluttering heart or any dizziness would be scary.... maybe you've got a viral illness or something coming on... who knows... hope you feel better

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    1. I wouldn't be surprised, considering all the little ones I see, right? I did feel better today and I'm glad. Knocked out 8 miles and it felt so good.

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  23. So sorry Wendy! I had an almost DNF at a 5K one day. I'd had an awful week at work and the course was much hillier than I thought. I remember just wanting to sit down. Somehow I walked through most of it, but it still bothers me. It was a 5K!! If that day had hit me on a 10K race day though it would have been a DNF. Sometimes we just have bad days.

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  24. So sorry! I haven't DNF'd, but I did DNS when I first got ITBS. It sucked, and as much as I kept telling myself it was the smart decision, I felt miserable.

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    1. It's pretty hard to quit when you've committed to something!

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  25. Sorry to hear you had a DNF. I've had few DNS when I was injured in 2015, that sucked. Glad you had the opportunity to get a ride back. Take care of yourself.

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    1. If I had to walk all the way, I would have. Glad I didn't have to.

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  26. Oh gosh, Wendy. I am so sorry you had such a bad experience at this race. On the one hand, I hope you figure it out so you can prevent it from happening again. On the other hand, I think sometimes it's best just to accept that these things happen- the human body is weird - and not dwell on it. Hopefully your next training run goes well and this won't be something you need to worry about again. Hugs.

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    1. I'm trying not to dwell on it but I'm pretty sure I know what happened. I went out too fast. Plain and simple. I should have known better. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, right?

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  27. <3 I'm so sorry this happened. For what it's worth, I think you made the best decision, but I also can see how that would have be so very hard. You will have redemption, I know, but in the moment, I know this was awful.

    I had a semi-DNF. It was a half marathon last April. I was still injured and I knew by the end of the first mile that there was no way I was going to be able to complete the distance. Fortunately for me, there was a 5K that followed the same route as the half, so I was able to switch to the shorter race, but there were tears and I beat myself up over it for a while. Again, it was the right decision, but it brought me a lot of anxiety and second-guessing.

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    1. I thought about going the 5k route--the course split--but nope, I had to be a hero until I wasn't. That won't happen again. I went out too fast and I know that now.

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  28. So sorry to hear about your DNF. Definitely sounds like you made the right decision. Hoping you won't ever have to go through that again. Next year is redemption.

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  29. I'll tell you what. You could have DNFd and moved on with your life. But you OWNED it and put it all out there. Kudos to you. And that heart flutter? Probably and hopefully just anxiety. Get past it and move on. Tough love; it's the nurse in me. And you will understand.

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    1. Hopefully just anxiety. I had a little one yesterday while I was running too. Which is weird because you wouldn't expect an escape beat when you're in ST, right?

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  30. I'm sorry to hear about your DNF, but I'm glad to hear that it wasn't due to your RA, I was worried you had a health setback. Sometimes we just don't have the racing day that we hope for and I'm glad you don't have any regrets.

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    1. I was worried too. While I'm having RA symptoms, it's definitely not a flare. It was me going out too fast. Dammit!

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  31. Ah Wendy... :( I'm sorry about the DNF. I haven't had one myself but my husband has had one and he was pretty mad at himself. We joke now that it's the 10K he DNF'd but it's the fastest 5K he ever ran. I think going out too fast can really make or break. Especially if there are a few other factors involved. hopefully you won't be beating yourself up too much about it.

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    1. Ha! I had that same thought! If only it had been a 5k...

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  32. I'm so sorry to hear that you had a bad day out there. Just remember that we all have bad days every now and then. Don't beat yourself up too much, remind yourself of how far you've come already with your RA, and look ahead to the next race.

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    1. Hoping to stay calm and collected for the next one.

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  33. Oh man! that is rough! Races come and go, but a strong spirit is hard to kill off! I know it's painful and stressful to have to not finish it, but it's done and you will shake it off and go on. Stay Strong!

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    1. I would be a lot more upset had it been a half or a full. A 10k is a lot easier to shake off. Not that it's easier but you know what I mean.

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  34. I am so sorry you had such a tough day! I have had one DNF. My goal marathon and the only time I hired a coach in an attempt to break 4 hours. I can't even recall anymore but by mile 6 maybe stopped? I knew there was no way in hell I was going sub 4. Called my best friend crying and she basically reinforced my decision and that it was okay. I didn't want to just run another marathon to run a marathon. Looking back I was definitely in a flare but wouldn't get diagnosed for a couple more years. I cried a LOT of tears that day but never once regretted the decision.

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    1. That had to be a tough call but I sure know that feeling--even though mine was a 10k, I felt bad enough and didn't want to finish just to finish. Yep, it's a tough decision no matter what but no regrets.

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  35. I am sorry Wendy, but you def did the right thing. It is so hard to DNF, but it happens. I have had a few DNS, but no DNF. You can claim your redemption next year.

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    1. I did do the right thing, but it wasn't an easy decision! Quitting never is.

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  36. What a rough day! :-( I think you are right though, you have to start running your race and no two may look the same. I have all the confidence in you that you will finish the next one! Keep smiling my friend!

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    1. I'm pretty sure I'll hold back on my pace! I can't believe I did such a rookie thing. (eye roll)

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  37. Yes, I bailed on a marathon last year - I needed a sub 5 hour run to qualify for an ultra I was super keen on. The organisers changed the (usually easy) route so that it could classify as an olympic qualifying marathon. There was a gale force wind; and I was cutting it fine with my training - after 15km I was on track for my sub 5hr, by 17km I no longer was; and I called my husbuddy to fetch me at 19km, in tears and defeated. It's taken me a long time to get over it - I have since run the same marathon (back to the old route, no gale force wind), run sub 5, qualified and completed the ultra (The 2 Oceans marathon in Cape Town, South Africa); but that DNF still haunts me.
    But, that's what we runners do - pull on our running shoes, get back out there and run some more; which I have no doubt you are already doing. Hope the RA continues to behave!

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    1. I almost DNF'd my first marathon. But my husband refused to pick me up, so I finished--still my worst finish time ever. I learned a lot from that race, as I did this one. Running sure humbles us!

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  38. So sorry about your DNF! You'll get 'em next year!

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  39. I'm so sorry you had to DNF, but you're a smart runner and did what you knew was best for you. I'm sure you'll approach next year's race with gusto as you show it who's boss.

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    1. That I will. I'll also very willingly listen to whatever my body is telling me to do that day.

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