This Runner's Trials

Down, but not out

You guys! OMG :) Your incredible support and sweet responses made me cry- in a good way- and helped me feel much better. I honestly don’t think I’d be recovering as well from the DNF without the amazingness of the blog community. Hugs. Thank you so much. Seriously.

I felt nothing but numbness yesterday afternoon. I think I was just in shock and didn’t want to believe what happened. And then the littlest thing set me off. I cried, and cried, and cried.

In my head, I knew I did the right thing. I also knew it was just a race and there are a million things worse in the world so I should stop feeling sorry for myself.

But in my heart, I hurt. How could something I trained so hard for 14 weeks for, slip away and be over just like that? What did I do wrong?

I didn’t sleep last night. I kept hoping it was a bad dream and I’d get a marathon do over. I choked back tears on the flight back to Charlotte. Then, when I got home I found the ridiculous note my Thursday self left for my Monday self.

Stupid Thursday self.

Yesterday I was upset because my stomach got in the way of my goal. But it’s funny how quickly we forget about pain. Today the “what ifs” set in. I doubted that my stomach really hurt, I wonder what would have happened if I would have tried Gu for the first time, if I would have ran just a few more miles, if I didn’t force myself to carbo-load, etc, etc, etc.

I learned a long time ago, “what ifs” are a ridiculous waste of time and energy. You can spend you’re whole life wondering about the “what ifs” or you can live your life and embrace the decisions you make.

My stomach has still been a mess, and the small amount of food I’ve eaten since my race yesterday is sad. I knew I shouldn’t run today. But I needed to do something. I laced up my shoes and took the furball for a 2 mile walk.

As soon as I got back, I felt like a run was truly what I needed though. I just wanted to do a couple easy miles to clear my head. I knew I hadn’t eaten nearly enough in the past 24 hours to run. The thought of bringing Gatorade or sharkies made me gag, so I grabbed one of my hubby’s Gus and some water to take with me.

My legs felt amazing. This actually helped me cope with my marathon fail. I still ran 12.5 miles at an 8:16 pace yesterday and the fact that my legs weren’t sore or tired at all was a testament to my sound marathon training.

My stomach felt the same :( In the first 2 miles, I had 4 cramps I needed to massage away which I think is pretty typical for me lately. Then, I made it exactly 3 miles before I ran out of steam.

I decided to try the Gu for the first time ever.

OMG! This is the stuff I have feared for years? Why did I so adamantly avoid this candy-like food that tastes like my favorite cake flavor for so long? Umm wow. This is seriously the first thing in days that’s tasted good to me. If there is anyone like me who is afraid of Gu (which I kind of doubt), don’t be. Try it.

The Gu settled fine in my stomach. I still got cramps, but I’m obviously not using the Gu as my scapegoat. I did get a huge burst of energy post Gu-ing and was so glad I took it.

I ended 5 miles at an 8:49 pace, and felt better :)

I don’t know what my racing future holds. I may try another marathon in 12 days (I’m registered for run but may drop to the half), 12 weeks, or never. As many of you wise readers pointed out, my marathon DNF does not define me as a runner.

And you know what? My awesome PRs and best races don’t define me as a runner either. Racing and running are two separate animals. When I got into distance running, racing was the furthest thing from my radar. I don’t run to race. I run because I enjoy it. And if you run but never race, you’re still a runner in my book.

But I’m not going to lie. I’m eager to get out there and race again ;) After all, I enjoy racing too and want to cross a finish line so badly again.

Comments (17) Trackbacks (2)
  1. I think you should do spinx and piggy back with me on your back so we can both bq?

  2. You NERD> You have given me GU before but never had it? vanilla is my FAV. It’s the ONLY thing I will take on a long run. i can’t do the shot blocks and that other crap. GU = awesome. Island nectar tastes like a daquari and I like the gingerbread, too. Nerd.

    Glad you had a good run. I am excited for what your future holds as a runner, I know it is going to be great! Hope you are feeling better, you know I am just a phone call away :)

  3. HAHA, so funny you chose today to try your first GU! Me too! I tried the vanilla gingerbread flavor you gave me in my bag of goodies when you coached me in the spring! It is good! I’ll be getting more!
    I’m glad you are already back out there and look forward to hearing what you end up deciding to do.
    I know I’m slow as hell, but seriously I’m around if you want a running buddy… :)

  4. Oh yay! I’m so happy to hear you be positive about racing. It’s so funny since you’re such a seasoned runner to hear you have never tried GU! ;) hehe he

  5. Slowly, but surely you’ll bounce right back. I know that as racers we definitely tend to get caught up in the excitement and challenge of running race after race and getting better over time. What’s hard is learning that not all of them can be the best ever and some are simply good learning experiences and mental toughness builders. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I know it helps me to have a more balanced outlook when I read other runners’ journeys.

  6. That is so true… Running and racing are so completely different and racing does not define a runner! I think I really needed to hear that to as I am kind of doubting my ability to PR for my next half. You eased those doubts…because who cares! I am still out there running, and like you, I will continue to run despite any setbacks. Your DNF certainly does not change any opinions I have of your running capability. Keep on keepin’ on!

  7. I’ve never tried gu— I have enough stomach problems- I’m scared of the texture… happy you are feeling more positive. keep your chin up!!! My vote is for you to run your race in 12 days and run it for fun- run it for the experience, and if you BQ all the better… but do it for you!!!!!!!!!

  8. I just found you by way of Meals and Miles and have to say that reading your race recap was very inspiring and helped put things in perspective. I particularly liked what you wrote about your races not defining you as a runner. Running is a personal quest that takes all of us on different journeys and qualifying for Boston or breaking 4 hours are nice goals to have but in the end they don’t really matter. Good for you for getting out there today and running a little bit and feeling proud of yourself! You are amazing and it took a lot of strength to drop out yesterday before things got too bad. I hope that you are able to find some solution to your stomach distress and that running continues to be a positive in your life. :)

  9. I really like the chocolate outrage Gu. Tastes like frosting too.

  10. I’m glad you’re able to look upon your race with a positive light right now. I hope you can figure out your tummy troubles.

    Also, we are so close! We have to make a meet-up happen in the near future. :-)

  11. I grabbed a Gu at one of the stops during the marathon on Sunday. It was chocolate. I had never had Gu before (I know, nothing new on race day!) but at the time it seemed right. I was missing out! I loved it sooo much more than my stupid shot bloks! I didn’t have to chew and it tasted good!

    You are entitled to a few tears, but it is so true – a race does not define a runner, a distance does not define a runner. You are one of the strongest runners I know. I am still impressed by your ability to make smart decisions in training and racing.

    The passion you have for this sport is palpable. I hope that your GI troubles can get resolved so you can feel great on your runs again.

  12. French Vanilla and Just Plain are my two favorite Gu flavors. I used to literally gag when I took Gu but I’ve finally accumulated a taste for it. I find that it goes down so much easier than chews like Sharkies or Shot Bloks and sits better in my stomach. Just be sure to take it with plenty of water! :)

    Jen, I just know you have so many amazing races ahead of you. Sunday just wasn’t your day and I can’t EVEN imagine the inner turmoil you must be feeling. I know you’ll be able to get this stomach issue worked out and get back to your normal, speedy racing self.

    Sending so many good thoughts your way!!!!!

  13. Welcome to the wonderful world of GU! ;) Glad you liked it!! I’ve never done a long run with anything else. I like Shot Bloks and Sports Beans for recovery after a run, but I just can’t do them during a race — it’s way too hard to chew that gummy overly sweet stuff. Yes, sometimes I have to choke GU down too, but at least it’s sort of liquidy. Do you think you’ll start using them on long runs/races now? (if you’re looking for variety, I’d recommend trying Espresso Love…it’s pretty amazing!)

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear your run made you feel better. You are so right — running and racing are so different and one bad (or even good!) race does not define you as a runner. Wise words. And something that i need to be better about reminding myself about. I’m happy you can still find joy in running, and hope that over this next week or so, you concentrate on that…instead of thinking about races. You are strong and an excellent runner!! I know you’ll bounce back from this. And no matter what you decide to do in a couple of weeks, I’ll still admire you :)

  14. It’s great that you laced the sneakers right back up and went for a run! The only way to go after a big disappointment is forward. You trained so hard and your stomach that day was nothing you could control. It’s easy to get caught up in the “what ifs” after a poor performance, or even after a good performance sometimes I find myself thinking what if I trained harder? Maybe I could have done even better…on one hand I think it’s good to want to improve but I need to work on being happy for myself and realizing that I am human and can only do so much. And part of being human is having bad running days and crappy races, sometimes for no reason. Don’t forget that you are an incredible runner, and your joy and passion for it is not something that can be diminished by one race!

  15. you have a fantastic attitude. i expected nothing less. you’ll get it when it’s time. until then, keep running because you love it. i know you will anyway. :)

  16. welcome to the world of gu! see? we’re not all crazy for loving it! i hope that you are able to figure out all the cramping issues that you’ve been having so that you can get back to enjoying running.

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