Ah, the dreaded DNF—Did Not Finish. Only slightly better in the runner lexicon is the DNSDid Not Start. In reality, the distance between the two is sometimes far more than the mileage travelled. In most instances, when done properly, it means the world.
This past weekend at the Maui Marathon, I was dealt a harsh blow when the heat and humidity not only did their usual number on me but left me on the side of the road during the race retching whatever remained in my belly from the night before. After the race, too weak to actually make it to the med tent, I lay on the well-manicured front lawn of the Maui Westin, regurgitating Dr. Pepper which had tasted oh so wonderful about five minutes before. A week later, I wish I had made it to that med tent instead of, when I finally was able to walk, heading to my hotel room to sleep it all off. I, as a consequence, definitely felt the effects longer than I would have if I had taken an IV of magic juice from the pretty Hawaiian doctor.
So, on the eve of the Quad Cities Marathon, when I was tentatively signed up to take part as the pace group leader for the 3:10 group (one of my absolute favorite things to do—giving back karmically to the running world by helping other qualify for Boston just really makes me giddy), it was with great sighing that I did the prudent and intelligent thing and switched to the half-marathon. My 119th marathon would have to wait.
Without a doubt it was the smart move. I am pretty sure I could have run a 3:10 marathon, helping at least a few handfuls of chaps hit their desired goal. But at what cost? I am still reeling from a race that left me sleeping until noon on Friday completely bereft of energy. Coincidentally, as I mulled over the situation I got an email from a friend asking what for advice on whether they should push through an injury which was keeping her from running a marathon. Her desire was then to eschew the marathon, where she was hoping to get a new personal best, and then potentially limp through the half marathon. When I asked her if that actually made any sense, to go from a PR attempt in a marathon to a half-marathon shuffle, she realized it didn’t and agreed it was smart to sit the race out. Then I realized the same thing. If I was only going to shuffle through my own pacing effort, potentially adding further exhaustion and injury for no real reason, was it worth it? No, it was not.