This past Friday my family and I took a road trip to Hilo. As always, we enjoyed the drive over Saddle Back Road & of course a quick pit stop by the Mauna Kea Park so the kiddos could play and I guess so I could stretch my legs and pee for like the one hundredth time this morning.
We planned this trip so I could run the Hilo to Volcano 50k. This was now going to be my third time back racing #HTV50K
I last ran this race in 2014 (My first time finishing 5:44:43) and a again in 2015 (running with a finishing time of 4:38:05)
This is the race that gave me my first taste of ultra distant running. This race inspired me to train for a 100 hundred miler (which I have Not yet accomplished.)
I hear a "third time is the charm" unfortunately that wasn't the case for me. Instead my third shot a racing this 50k led me to my first DNF.
What it feels like to "DNF" let me tell you all about my experience.
I'm going to skip the "Before The Race" preparations for you and get right to the details of what led me to quit.
It's still a bit hard to swallow the word quit. To be honest it feels like taking a bite of the a very sour piece of candy and no matter how many times I brush I'm left with a really really bad taste in my mouth.
I've decided to write about my experience while it is still fresh in my mind and also before I decide not to talk about it at all. It's not the easiest experience to chat about, but I think it's necessary. I think it's necessary because it is a part of my life, a part of my fitness journey. For those of you who know me, I'm not a quitter, but quitting this race honestly felt like the only option I had.
Here is my story:
The race began at 6 a.m., it was cold and dark. Right off the bat a couple came up to me and introduced themselves to me after they had taken a look and thought I was my sister Bree (I get this quite often.) Nick and my two kids were in the car ready to go as they were my sag for this race. My son was was all excited and ready with my nutritional needs in the backseat by him. I was beyond excited for this race feeling quite good mind and body. A little nervous about how my young daughter would respond every time I pass by the car whether or not she would cry or be okay watching me run by. I knew my kids were in great hands and Nick was in complete control.
Anyways, we ran the first five miles together and then decided to part ways. I broke my 50k down into 5 Mile increments. Each mile seemed to pass by a little quicker than the other. The rain began about mile 8 and of course I was absolutely freezing. I don't know how you Mountain Trail Runners and those in the snowy States survive. I have always lived in warm climate States like Florida and Hawaii, so running in the cold does not do my bones very good. But let it be known this is not the reason why I quit my race. As I started running into Mile 10 I noticed quite a sharp intense pain running up my right side leg. The pain didn't want to let up and only got worse and worse as I continued to climb. This pain felt somewhat similar to the ending of my Honolulu Marathon finish, but worse. With each step I took the pain was shooting in my right knee, proceeded up the back of my hamstring, and into my butt and my lower right back. I knew the pain was there, but I continued to run hoping it would back off eventually. I thought maybe it was my sciatica acting up. I didn't want to say anything to my family because I was nervous with how they would respond.
I was so excited every time I got to the car and I saw my family there waiting for me and my son running up to me "mom do you need water""mom you need salts?" He is such an amazing little boy and truly inspired me with running years ago.
My heart was so full of joy and happiness. I was with my most favorite people doing one of my most favorite things I love to do. The pain in my right leg would not let up no matter how hard I tried, no matter how slow I went, no matter how fast I went. At one point I said to Nick and the kids "my right leg hurts I don't know what to do."
My leg was in so much pain I really did not know what to or if I should continue. I took a moment to stretch it out. My family convinced me to keep going. So I did.
It's funny because my head was there and my nutrition was there, but my body just would not do what I wanted it to do or needed it to do for me. I remember around mile 12 mile 13, the pain was so bad I wanted to cry, but I saw the look in my son's eyes and I knew I had to keep going. The thought of a DNF did not feel good. I didn't want to imagine myself not crossing the finish line. I wasn't quite sure what else to do, but quit. I didn't want to disappoint my family. I didn't want them to think quitting is referred to as a good thing.
The thought of walking crossed my mind yes, but the thought of leaving my family in the car for the remainder of the miles as I walked did not seem like the right thing to do. Truthfully the amount of pain I felt in my leg, walking really didn't seem like the right thing to do. My legs felt like I couldn't hardly move them forwards. My hip flexors were so tight. I kinda got worried about losing my balance at one point. I felt like I tried all I could try to keep moving forwards, to keep putting one for in front of the other. Nothing seemed to work.
|That look kills me ( This is when I knew I was pulling out of the race, I was quitting, I was going to DNF)|
At Mile 20.5 I looked at my family and I just said I can't do this anymore. I walked around to the other side of the car turned my Garmin off and I knew my day was done. My daughter was crying so I came and sat next to her in the backseat of the car. I finished feeding her her bottle that Nick had already started. I felt numb. I felt frozen in my wet rained out clothing. I kept telling my family how so sorry I was, so sorry for letting them down. Whistler asked me if I was sure I wanted to quit? Those words were not the words I wanted my son to have to ask me that day. I wanted to keep seeing him run up to me with water and nutrition. I wanted to hear him tell me he ate one of my salts and liked it.
Nick sat there in the front seat just telling us he was waiting for a moment. Whistler and I confused at why we weren't leaving yet. I didn't want to go to the finish line and face everyone. I didn't want to talk to anyone in person about my failure.
After what felt like 20 minutes of sitting on the side of the road in the car wrapped up in a warm blanket, I knew in my heart Nick was waiting for me to get back out of the car and continue on to finish the race. I saw this look in his eyes that I had not seen before and I knew he didn't want me to feel the pain of quitting. I could tell he would have done anything for me, so I wouldn't have to experience DNF'ing.
I wondered where Tonya was at this point running and a few minutes later here she came running up the hill.
I rolled down the window. I told her my right leg was in so much pain and I'm pulling out of the race. She tried to convince me just to walk with her and I said I couldn't do it. I said I couldn't walk 10 more miles and make my family sit in the car while I did that. I couldn't make her walk with me and jeopardize her race either.
I knew that pulling out of the race was exactly what I needed to do. She gave me a hug goodbye and continued on her way to her finish.
As I get older I realize harming my body (like I have done so many times in my past) and putting it through huge amounts of pain just isn't the right thing to do anymore.
I love running and of course I never wanted to experience quitting a race and not crossing the finish line. I also didn't want to possibly do more damage to my right leg than what I might have already done.
When you're running and something painful strikes, you never really know if it's serious or just a flaw in the moment. My mind tried telling me that I cannot afford to be injured. My job is teaching fitness and I cannot afford to miss work. I have two children that are very active and playful. Had my right leg been something serious, I cannot afford to miss out on taking care of my kiddos. I had no idea what the worst outcome could have been had I continued the last 10 miles or so. At one point there was such an intense pain shooting up my leg, that it felt on fire. I didn't know then and I don't know now what was going on. I'm not in nearly as much pain as I was, however; I am still a bit sore today. I was so sore on Sunday ( the day after the race), but you know what that didn't stop me from teaching spin, 4 rounds of HIIT (I participated in 3 rounds) and yoga after that. Teaching fitness is my job, I could not have done what I did on Sunday had I created a possible injury for myself. I couldn't get down on the floor, picked up my daughter, played with my kiddos had I done something worse. Does anyone understand this or am I just making up excuses for not finishing. Do you choose family over racing or anything similar to this happen to you before???
This morning I took my son back to school after Christmas break. My daughter and I took a little walk around the neighborhood. My legs still a bit sore, especially when I walked down one of our hills. I could feel it in my knee just a bit. I've been icing and icing and rolling out my muscles. I hope this will go away after taking some time to recover and rest. Has anyone experienced this type or pain before???
As for right now, I'll moving on from this DNF the best I know how to. I will not allow it to keep me down longer than it needs to.
This week my parents fly in from Florida for a visit, which I'm looking forward too.
And this upcoming weekend I'll be in training with the Les Mills Sprint program all day Saturday & Sunday at The Club Kona and I'm definitely looking forward to all this spinning!!!
As far as racing goes, next up is running in the mixed relay for the Lavaman triathlon with Rich & Pat.
Thank you for reading and a Very Happy New Year to everyone! May you not have to experience a DNF at any point this year!! And a very special thank you to the race, everyone supporting, and to my family for loving me even though I may have disappointed you. I love you Nick, Whistler, and Hutson for loving me as much as you do................