Saturday, November 5, 2011

Savannah: The DNF

13.1 @ 555-5:50 pace (~1:17:xx)

5:41, 5:56, 5:56, 6:20, 6:06, 6:16, 6:33, 6:28, DNF

First, let's just put it right out there.  I didn't finish the Rock 'n Roll Savannah Half Marathon.  Physically I am overtrained but emotionally I am pretty stable.  I'm not injured, but I'm not 100% healthy.  Mentally, I learned some valuable lessons that I can take with me to Houston.  On the bright side, I got to watch John (1:08:40), Pezz (1:14:32), and Alana (1:16:58) finish superb half marathons, all in blazing fast times, as a result of my DNF.

So, the race.  I woke up at 5:30am and did all my typical pre-race rituals, warmed up with John for an easy two miles, and changed into my Nike racing flats.  I did a couple of strides and could tell my legs were still tired.  I rationalized that I've gone into so many races where my legs were tired and performed fabulously, so tired legs wouldn't be an issue.  After some strides on the start line, I wished Pezz and Alana good luck and waited for the instructions for the start.

There was a stereo blaring "I LOVE ROCK N ROLL" and then the gun went off.  There were no start instructions so no one knew the gun was supposed to go off then.  I looked around to assess the situation and tentatively placed my foot over the start line, hoping I wouldn't get disqualified for a false start.  Apparently, the gun shot during the Joan Jett song was meant to signal the start, and the mass of 40,000 people began the race.

Alana caught up to me after 100 meters and said "That was the worst start ever!" or something like that.  I laughed.  Pezz and Alana took off, I glanced at my Garmin's estimated pace and saw 5:30 and immediately backed off.  They were about 5-10 seconds ahead of me through the mile mark.  I came through miles 2 and 3 in 5:56 and could still see Alana the same distance ahead of me.  At that point I felt fairly confident that I would catch back up to Alana and that we would work together for the rest of the race.

To be honest, I don't know what changed between mile 3 and 4.  I went from running 5:56 to 6:20 pace.  My breathing was fine.  My legs felt like they were made of clay and my form crumbled.  My jaw was clenched and my forehead was creased.  My muscles were clenching in areas that needed to be relaxed.  I saw Eric shortly after mile 3 and he told me that I looked great. I knew that he was lying and that really I looked like total crap.

Between miles 4-6, I got passed by marathoners who were hoping to run my goal time for the Trials.  My legs continued to deteriorate and my gait was altered as my left hip felt like it was locking up slowly. My IT Band and hamstring were tight, but not painful.  I wanted to drop at mile 5, but I didn't know where I was in relation to downtown, so I figured I would wait until i got closer to the city.  Around mile 7 (?) Chris Lamperski passed me and asked if I was okay and told me that I was limping.  I knew that limping 5 more miles to finish a half marathon could very well impact my plans of toeing the start line at the Olympic Trials in just 10 weeks and I didn't want to take that risk.  I passed through mile 8, where Jennifer Hadley waited to cheer me on before running to the finish to catch Alana, before passing through the crowd of people and casually jogging onto the sidewalk where the crowd had thinned out.  I put my leg up and stretched my hip, IT Band, and hamstring.  I asked for directions to the finish and began my trek. On my trek, I felt like a failure and was embarrassed that I got an elite entry and just threw it to waste by not finishing the race.

It's ironic that I dropped out because I'm actually against it in principle unless you're (1) unconscious or (2) on the way to injury.  In some ways, by dropping out, I went against one of my own values.  After all, I don't know for certain if I was on the road to injury. Sure, I've had some IT Band tightness over the course of the past two weeks.  Yes, I've had to scrap a couple of workouts or end them prematurely.  But my knee isn't in any pain like it was in January, so is it an injury?  In the end, my body is just tired and I knew that the toll of putting my body and mind through another five grueling miles really wouldn't be the best for the big goal in January.

I need a small allotment of time to assess positive and negative from this weekend and then move forward.  Then the key is to re-evaluate what I want to do over the course of the next 10 weeks. There are so many more important things in my life than to dwindle on a race that didn't go quite the way I wanted.  With that, I'm putting on my happy face, and focusing on rejuvenating my mind, body, and spirit with a calm confidence that everything will fall into place.


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