Last Minute Long Runs and the DNF
DNF = Did Not Finish. But sometimes can also mean: Did Not Fail.
The first is a literal definition of how one physically completed (or did not) a race or other event. The second definition is a mindset. Some of us (me included) cannot accept failure. And typically, if the goal of any race or event you start, the goal is to finish. Therefore, not finishing would be, by definition, failure. And I just can't accept that for myself. (I'm speaking truth for me, not accusing anyone else of failure-- I'm just hard on myself.)
But then life and circumstances come in and suddenly my Failure becomes Education. Here's the story:
Weekend baseball tournaments for my son are ramping up at the exact time my mileage is really ramping up in my training plan to get me ready for World's Toughest Mudder. Typically long runs are Sunday, Saturday if they need to be. I take it easy on Saturday, carbing up a little to ready myself to go long.
Halfway through my rest and carb day yesterday, my son's game that was supposed to be at 5pm (perfect for a long run morning) was moved to 8am. My options? Up at 3:30am to run from 4:00 to 6:30. Wait until evening and run after a 3 hour car ride home. Or go when we got back to the hotel and be out from 6:30pm to 9 that night. I opted for the latter.
After all, WTM begins at 2pm, so I will have to figure out how to fuel before the event. How to deal with darkness falling. How to handle a body that feels like it needs to be sleeping instead of working. And the most important-- how to deal with a mind that is screaming like a 2 year old, "No! I don't want to keep going!"
Long story short-- I set out to do 14 miles. I called my husband at 11.5 and asked my husband to come get me in another mile. (Typically, he ignores such requests-- see "That Time I called my Husband in the Middle of a Marathon", but he had a dinner to get to.)
My body was just done. It was probably a combo of increased mileage, time of day (night), fueling, having sat in the sun for 5 hours earlier in the day. I was really struggling with feeling sick, heavy legs on the verge of cramping and just general end of the long run feelings. I walked, which I rarely do on any run. I tried all the typical thoughts that usually help, but the ones like, "I cannot finish this" kept trying to override everything else. And my Knight in an Acadia came riding in to save the day.
Here's what I learned, and why I'm calling this a DNFail:
I have a loooooong way to go. I have to figure out how to tell my brain to shut up and keep moving forward for WTM in Vegas, when it's dark and cold, and I'm miserable. Fueling is critical, and it's vital I get that figured out as well. I'm still a long way away from 50 miles.
Here's a list of Top Ten Reasons to DNF in an Ultra Marathon from Wild Defined (and the source of this picture:)