Saturday, January 9, 2010

The DNS 5k Experience

(Did Not Start, in case you were wondering).

Sometimes it’s the tough choices that are the most difficult to make. Fear, worry and even uncertainty will linger in our minds, long after the decision has been finalized. In the end though, we choose our own course of action, and must ultimately live with the consequences.

Okay, so I’ll admit: that’s a little deep, even for me.

But today I did something completely new and very unexpected: I withdrew from the 5k race less than ten minutes before its start time.

And trust me when I say, that a decision like that is not made lightly – especially after the early wake up, the drinking of Ensure (yuck!), 30-minute drive to the race site (with Nathaniel and my Dad – two great sports and supporters throughout the process), registration and then the disastrous warm up. Yes, there were a few tears…but they flowed freely out of frustration at my predicament.

My lower right leg doesn’t feel quite right.

It’s my own damn fault; immediately after Kona, I should have gotten a massage and worked out the post-Ironman kinks. But I didn’t…I was cheap and I got sick. I figured the time off would solve all ailments and though my legs were tight when I initially started training in December, it wasn’t anything that had me particularly worried.

The bike test kicked my ass, though.

I suppose that every little micro-muscular tear, every single bit of scar tissue, everything that had been painful post-Kona and ignored came screaming agonizingly to the surface during my 30-minute LT Bike Test. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments that haven’t been worked in a while were suddenly willed to perform at their max effort. While I powered through the test, painfully aware of my throbbing lower extremity, I was forced to come to a grinding halt during my attempted 30-minute transition run.

My leg looked swollen – a reverse cankle, if you may. I was oddly fascinated and disgusted at the same time.

Luckily my ART Therapist managed to see me both Wednesday and Friday (ouch ouch ouch), but even he noticed the swelling and was careful to manipulate around my outer calf muscles and tendons.

Which brings me to today.

I’ve never gone to a race, signed up, and THEN pulled out 10 minutes before the gun goes off. I just don’t do that. When I decide to do something, I do it. Period.

But…I’ve also done a lot of stupid things in my life (I’ll freely admit that). Belly button piercing at 17, biking without a helmet, and once setting fire to my down comforter while trying to put the moves on my future husband (candles should be outlawed if you are less than 21 and slightly inebriated).

However, while running my race warm-up I noticed the same burning and throbbing sensation in my leg that I felt during my previous few runs, I knew that running a max-effort 5k race would be the stupidest of them all. My pace felt great; but my leg just wasn’t right. And though it was a very bitter and tough pill for me to swallow – I knew that pulling out of the race was the RIGHT choice to make.

Because at the end of the day, I know myself and I know the kind of athlete I am: I KNOW there will be pain and discomfort during a race, but I always push it aside. Its one thing to arrive at a start line, fired up and READY to go. It’s completely different when you add those emotions to a body part that’s not working the way it should (or that you expect it to).

As disappointed as I was, I knew it was the right thing to do.

I ran for exactly 6:38 – until I could no longer stand the tightness – stretched for a few minutes, and then ran back to Nathaniel and Dad. I was gone for a whopping 14 minutes and five seconds. But my decision had already been made, in spite of the tears and indescribable pull towards racing regardless of my discomfort.

Oh well.

I would rather be smart and NOT race now, than damage myself further. And, after the fact, there is no doubt in my mind that running a max 5k for 20 or so minutes, would put me out of commission longer than I care to admit.


Even though it’s not the same – I totally respect any Mountaineer who can be within a matter of minutes from the Summit and turn around (for whatever reason…weather, mountain conditions, number of daylight hours left), thus forfeiting his or her chance of standing at the top. People loose lives climbing Everest, because they are SO fixated on reaching the summit… they forget that they have to come down as well.

In my 28 (almost 29!!) years of existence, I’m really proud of the choice I made today. It wasn’t easy, it certainly wasn’t fun…but it was the right thing to do. And I’m sure that – come late summer when I’m up to my ears in racing (knock on wood – YEA) – this will be a blip on the radar. A good experience for me to recall: where in spite of what I REALLY wanted to do, I listened to my body and, in the end, was better for having done it.

Yep, the right choices are sometimes the hardest to make. And though I feel a bit serious about the matter at hand, I’m really okay about the decision I made. Absolutely no regrets – none for today. I DO wish that I had gotten a massage post-Kona immediately after the race, and not waited for something to feel “off”. So I have only myself to blame.

In the mean time, me and my aggravated calf (along with the help of our good friend Motrin) will go back to the drawing board, sport the Compression Socks, and keep ourselves elevated and rested. Throw in a Mini or House Monster or two, and two doting guys (Nathaniel and Dad), and maybe demand fruity adult drinks be brought our way…today is looking all right…

Regardless, it will work out in the end. Of that I am sure.


San said...

Congrats. For real. Tuff decision.

I hope your leg will be alright soon.

LOL on the fire story.

Enjoy your weekend.

Stef said...

YES congrats! It's amazing the tests that life throws our way when we neither expect nor want them.

From where I sit you passed. With flying colors.

Happy New Year.

GoBigGreen said...

Smart move. I know what you are feeling bc my knee was kinda not great for a bit and i am so glad i stopped running outside for a bit. IT will be better and you will be running in no time.
Email me if you want a long distance web diagnosis:)
Hang in there.

Heidi Austin said...

Smart girl... i'm not sure exactly what you have going on but but keep watching it. I second Julia on the diagnosis~

Alicia Parr said...

The flamming comforter story sounds interesting.

You know you did the right thing w/ the DNS. Live to fight another day.

Alicia Parr said...

Flaming comforter. Not flamming. Goodness.

Maria said...

Look at you being all grown up and making mature training decisions, I'm proud of you! You'll bounce back, never fear.

Anonymous said...

Having been weathered-off a few mountains short of the summit, I hear you loud and clear. So much better to come back and fight another day...

You made the right call.

It gets better from here.

Charisa said...

You are smart!!!

D said...

Leave it to you to write the longest RR for a DNS ever ;P

Of course you made the right decision. You know that. I know that. All of them ^^ know that. And Jen knows that.

Good girl.

Stacy said...

Nice decision. I had to make one of those back in the summer and it SUCKED! I literally tore off the timing chip and threw it at one of the volunteers and drove off before I could change my mind.
You will be so happy in the long run... I promise!

Beth said...

Good choice!! I am so impressed Marit - that is so tough to do when you are already there... But you will be so happy when this heals up quickly and you are back to business in no time! Hope it feels 100% soon!

Mary said...

It's so refreshing to read about someone being smart about their training! Great decision!

Teresa said...

Gawd, I wish ALL my athletes thought like you when faced with such a decision. That is what makes you a champ!

I woke up to my comforter on fire, however, your story is much more entertaining. Too funny!


ADC said...

Right decision made, enough said. Hope it all feels OK now. Say hello to Nate and your Dad.

Pedergraham said...

Marit you were smart. 3 years ago my calf kept getting really tight and I did an Oly anyway. It cramped up when I got out of the water, hurt on the ride, and as soon as I took two steps off my bike I felt a pop and could not even walk. Turns out that I partially tore my peroneus longus...and then did it again 2 more times that summer in races where I was just doing the swim. (It happened as soon as I stood up in the water.) So, I learned my lesson that things that we can manage in training can be unmanageable in race situations. And, yes, it is very embarassing to be the fastest woman in the swim of a sprint tri and then have to crawl up the beach. I haven't caught my bed on fire, though, at least not yet!

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Smart move Marit. It wasn't worth it. Hang in there.

Liz E said...

think of how many blogs you won't have to write about being injured and physical therapy!! awesome. i've been following your blog for a bit and really appreciate the struggles you've been through. i've been sidelined (to say the least) the past 8 months from overtraining. i'm looking forward to the eventual comeback like you had and it's great to see you are safeguarding your health. :) liz

Angela and David Kidd said...

Being smart sucks sometimes but good job listening to your body and recognizing you did the right thing. This will pay off this summer!

ojs said...

Smart decision. Concede the battle for a small January 5k, but win the war on your entire tri season ahead of you. Hope you heal up quick!

Sherry said...

Very smart, Marit. I just went through the same thing last weekend. It's the first event I ever had to pull out of and it was a relay to boot (so I had someone else counting on me). I was lucky to find my partner (also my hubby) a replacement, but I waited until just a few days before the race even though I KNEW that my body was not where it needed to be. That was a tough one to make. Hopefully we'll BOTH be better for the decision, though. Wishing you well. :o)

Kim said...

you made a really smart (albiet hard) decision. there is no reason to hurt yourself further down the season for a 5k. im proud of you girl, hang in there :)

Mer! said...

OH Marit!! I had no idea!! You totally totally made the right decision----I only know from Dave's leg frustration that it's SO incredibly frustrating and limiting and "worrisome".....--but, the fact that you made a smart decision will totally help you in the long run...though, I imagine, it's hard to shake a crappy feeling----just know that you'll rebound sooner since you didn't run----


BriGaal said...

I didn't read through all these comments (geez you're popular, girl!) so maybe this has already been said, but what you did makes you a SMART athlete! To understand your body and then make a decision like that is the best thing you could do. And a 5K in January is so not worth it. So good job!

Why was getting your belly button pierced a bad idea? I have mine pierced! (did it at 19, though)

日月神教-向左使 said...