Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

An unexpected result

The good news is my left calf did not hurt one bit during Saturday's marathon. It was absolutely fine. The rest, painful massages, Epsom salt ice baths, stretching, and prayers must have worked, for I didn't even feel a twinge of discomfort. Unfortunately, there is bad news as well. Despite the lack of expected calf pain, I did not finish the marathon. For only the third time in my life, I dropped out of a race.

DNF (Did Not Finish) are three letters I don't like to see following my name in any race result, but Saturday just wasn't my day. I have no other explanation than that. I felt great on Friday. I ate well, hydrated, and rested appropriately. The weather was nearly perfect Saturday morning. I felt ready and had only the typical nervous anticipation prior to the start. But I think that's where the normalcy ended. Shortly after the gun went off, I had an inkling something wasn't quite right.

Perhaps I started a bit too fast. Although my pace was nearly the same as I ran at Grandma's Marathon just two months ago, I couldn't catch my breath. I chalked it up to nervousness and tried to distract myself with some gratitude prayers. At each mile, throughout the mile, I thanked God for a different person in my life. The distraction worked until mile 5 when our flat course suddenly became gigantically hilly. It was a course change I hadn't expected. My quick pace bit me in the ass.

For the next three miles we summitted 4 hills, each one longer and steeper than the last. I hung in there up and over the first three hills, but by hill number four I was in distress. First of all, my GI system was off, which forced an emergent bathroom stop. Then the lengthy fourth hill slowed me to a walk half way from the top. The steep descent on the other side must have torn me up, too, because by the time our path flattened around mile 8, my legs were trashed. The hills were done, and so, I feared, was I.

It was more than just my legs giving way. My shortness of breath, which the hills exacerbated, never ceased. And my energy all but disappeared. I felt cooked, and I was only at mile 8! Dismayed, I tried to soldier on. I walked at mile markers. I joined up with other runners in hopes they would pull me along. I walked through water stops. I waited for the bad spot to pass. But Saturday, for whatever reason, the bad spot only worsened. Despite my pride in perseverance, stubbornness, and personal pep talks, my body just wouldn't go.

I ran and walked from miles 8 through 12 while still maintaining a reasonable pace. But after mile 13, in which I walked more than I ran, I finally gave up. I wasn't having fun. I knew if I continued it would be a really long day. So one hour and fifty five minutes into the race, at exactly mile 13.1, I dropped out. I was disappointed nearly to tears, but it was the right decision and knowing that kept my chin up. I caught a ride to the finish where D was waiting, first with surprise and then with a hug. My day was done.

This was a small blip of disappointment in an otherwise excellent weekend. Believe it or not, while I know I could have finished, I'm proud of myself for making what was probably the wiser decision. My focus now is on recovering, resting, and preparing better for October. After all, the Twin Cities Marathon is only 5 weeks away.


Anonymous said...

Etta ~ YEP! You made the wiser, HARDER choice! And the sun still set and the moon still rose and life continues on! Congratulations!!

I am proud of your DNF - it beats a DOA!! I encourage you strongly to see those 3 letters as DID NOT FAIL!

I'm proud of you!!! ~ It took far more courage to do what you did than to have (possibly) run yourself into the ground.....

Maggie Beth

Slim Daego said...

I am preparing for my first marathon, and have hit a rough spot in my training. Training has gone great for 14 weeks, the 16 miler was AWESOME! The 18 miler AND every run thereafter has been so tough...I know what it's like when your body just wont go anymore. You are happy, sad, mad and everything in between. I found your blog today when I was looking for tips on getting through a tough spot - it brought me some perspective. I'll be out there too on that 26.2 mile course...finish or not - we will not fail.