It had to happen sometime…

Yesterday I had my first DNF (Did Not Finish) in almost 4 years of running.

And I’m 100% ok with it. A couple of running club teammates said something along the lines of “Only those who know it was a 10K know that 5K is technically a DNF. Just say you did a 5K trail race.” But I know it was a DNF and I claim it.

Here’s the deal…

I signed up for the Van Cortlandt Track Club Urban Environmental Challenge, which is a 10K trail race in Van Cortlandt Park. Two 5K loops. My friend Scoops recommended it, and I know I need to get some trail practice in before the Great Alaskan Running Cruise, so I went for it. I was excited and a bit nervous on the hour and a half subway ride to the Bronx (another first for me).

However…

I’d gotten off to a challenging start for the morning. I’d worked until midnight, then gotten home for a little nap and then woke up hoping to find a streaming feed of the London Marathon since cablevision doesn’t think Universal Sports is necessary (BOO!!!). No luck, so I opted to go back to sleep for a little while. And proceeded to sleep through my alarms, waking up randomly at 7:09. I was supposed to be leaving in 20 minutes, so it was a rapid scramble to get everything together (I knew I had to take my work costume with me because at the amount of time to get back and forth, there was no way I was going to be able to go home and get anything resembling cleaned up before leaving for work, so it was definitely a day to use the NYSC membership for cleaning up!). And I did ok, but realized I forgot my interval timer. Both of them. So that was going to be a challenge in and of itself as the garmin was dead since I hadn’t recharged it since Cherry Blossom. Yes, I’ve been a slug.

Still, I figured out a plan – 4 reps of 20 breaths running to 1 rep of 20 breaths walking (I tend to breathe in 2 steps and out 2 steps), figuring that there would be more walking involved when necessary. Something confirmed when they were describing the route.

They say when a hill has a name you know it is significant.

Our first hill is called “Cemetery Hill”.

Yeah.

Still, I was doing ok, slow and steady. I was one of the last three, but I was ok with it. This was all about the experience.

Then, coming down a section, I was walking as it was too steep and rocky to consider running, when I tweaked my ankle on a rock, doing something I can only imagine resembled a mountain goat stepping on something hot jump/leap thing. My ankle seemed ok, but would twinge occasionally off and on. As we got to the start/repeat point, the other two who had been slightly behind me got a bit in front, so I was firmly last.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no issue coming in last. And that is NOT why I made the decision I made to call it after 1 loop. I would have been fine with coming last had I gone on. I would have felt guilty for keeping people waiting that long, but I would have apologized and gone on.

No, I made the decision for another reason. See, I have the Great Alaskan Running Cruise coming up, and I don’t want anything to ruin it. The ankle I tweaked, while it seemed to be mostly ok, it is the one I sprained so badly when I was in high school the doctor actually said it would have been better if I’d broken it because then it could have been put in a cast. It tends to bounce back from tweaks and rolls very easily, but it remains weak for a little while after. And I knew I was tired, so going a second round I really felt was playing with fire as I might not have been as cautious as I needed to be in treacherous places.

I decided to call it at 1 loop solely to protect myself from further damage. And I am fine with it.

The ankle feels a lot better today – I did take a rest day (other than doing some killer caterpillars) and will do yoga for XT tomorrow to help it rest even more. But I don’t regret my decision.

I learned a lot out there on the trail, and I have a route I can go practice on once or twice before the cruise. And that’s ok.

Life can be full of tough choices. This was one, but one I feel I made the right choice. I “live” to run another day! 🙂

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