Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Big Sur-Big DNF...

20 miles is nothing to sneeze at. I know. But it is not 26.2.

I traveled across the country to finish a marathon. THE marathon of a lifetime. The most beautiful marathon in the US. I am beyond disappointed. My heart is heavy. I have never had a DNF. I have had moments where I thought about it, where I wanted to, where I should have: Portland, while crossing the bridge and thought of jumping off (seriously), 2011 OKC half when freezing rain was pelting me in the face, Million Inch Run when I could barely stand the pain in my hip and knee...Each of those times I pushed through, I dug deep and drew from within, from a well of desire, determination, and will power. Yesterday I didn't have it. I had no tank to draw from, I was beyond 5 miles past empty. I went from mile 10 to mile 20 in some of the worst pain I have ever experienced during a run. I knew with each step I should call it quits. I know the difference between pain you can push through and injury. This felt like injury. Injury to my knee and injury to my pride. I was all around hurting. Right now I don't know what to expect. It hurts just sitting here, it hurt all night long. I'll probably make the dreaded trip to the doctor in the morning and see what they tell me, probably just to take Ibuprofen and call back if it still hurts in a week.

On Tuesday I started feeling sick. My throat hurt and I had a cough. It only got worse. Wednesday I could hardly swallow, Thursday it hurt to talk. Friday was the hump, I felt awful. Friday morning J-Ninja and her SIL went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I went back to bed. I drugged myself with all the cold medicine I could safely take. Saturday I felt a little better but still had no voice, throat hurt. and felt very weak. Things were not looking good for me on the marathon. I was worried my cold would slow me down, possibly prevent me from finishing in a respectable time. I was not, however, prepared for a DNF due to my cold.

Sunday morning, or middle of the night Saturday rather, we were up and getting ready to head to Carmel Middle School to catch the shuttle. We got up stupid early, 2:30 AM, and headed out by 3:00. We caught the shuttle at 4:00 and headed out along Cabrillo Highway up to Big Sur. Too bad it was dark or else we could have enjoyed the view. Instead we all fought motion sickness as we wound our way up and down and around to the start. We made it at 4:45 AM, two hours before the start. I should have brought a throwaway sleeping bag (next year-yes there will be a rematch). It was cold and everyone was huddled around, ready to get the show on the road. With this being a point to point race the logistics just did not allow for a late arrival to the start. They had to get the runners to the start and get the busses out of the way and the highway shut down to all other traffic. There was no way around the early wake up and the early arrival to the start.

The sun began to dawn and the mood all around was chipper. I was feeling good. Not sick, my throat was scratchy but no longer on fire. Finally it was time to head to our corral-Corral 3, goal time 4:45 and higher.


Me, The SIL, J-Ninja at the start

The rockn' leg warmers, I didn't get the memo in time...


When our turn came to start we were excited and feeling good. The first 5 miles we had been told "to enjoy". We were to be shielded from the wind by the hills and trees. There were gentle rolling hills and a good start to a brutal rest of the race. I didn't really think to get my camera out until around mile 4.

IMG_3459.jpg IMG_3460.JPG

We were cruising along, hoping for a miracle at mile 5 that would keep the winds at bay, giving us a nice easy run. We were feeling good and on track for our 5 hour or better finish. I was happy to not be feeling sick, I was able to breath and wasn't coughing. Win for me! I felt like the miles were cruising by, before I knew it we were at mile 5. When we came to mile 5 it seemed calm, there was no wind, the fog had rolled out to sea, chatter around us led me to believe we may have lucked out with the wind. I had hung on to my Goodwill sweat shirt in case the wind was cold and finally decided to toss it, I must have known that would be a significant decision because I snapped this picture as it flew to side of the road.


I worried I might get cold and wish I had it, but it was heavy and I was getting sweaty.



At the 10k point we had sun and little wind.... but...

That is not my shadow to the left, it can't be, I dont' think? Weird. 
As we rolled along to mile 8 it began to look like this...


We were closer to the water and the fog was around us. The wind was brutal. I immediately regretted my decision to toss my sweatshirt. It was freezing and I would have paid money to buy someone's sweatshirt. I was looking along the ground for a discarded one to snatch up. But if they hadn't tossed it by this point, they surely weren't going to now. It was crazy windy and cold. This was going to be rough.


I know that it must have been beautiful behind that fog...all these were taken during mile 8...LONGEST MILE EVER.





Finally we rolled up on mile 9. My knee had a twinge of pain, but nothing significant. I could feel it, knew it wasn't comfortable but also knew I could keep going.


We plugged along, enjoying the view...



I took like 90 pictures. I realize I can't put them ALL in this post...but it was so beautiful.....


As we hit the beginning of our 2 mile, 600 foot climb we came face-to-face with The Drummers, marching us to our doom....it was scary.IMG_3496.JPG

My knee was hurting but I was trying to ignore it. I'm not sure why we slowed but as I came to a walk I felt a sharp pain, like nothing I've felt before. I leaned on the guard rail and realized this was bad. If I could just make it up to Hurricane Point I would be ok, right? Maybe. As I made my way up a few people asked me if I was ok. One man in particular whose shirt read "Life is short. Running makes it seem longer." jogged up beside me and asked if I was ok. My mind raced, how could people tell I was hurting? Was I running like a gimp? A limp? Either way, I told him I had bit of pain. He told me, "It's not this up you need to worry about. Over the top is a steep 8% decline. That will be the deciding factor for you. Take it easy on the down." For the rest of the climb I tried to ignore the pain, to will it away. It didn't work.




J-Ninja and SIL pulled ahead, I kept my eye on their neon leg warmers. Luckily there was a beautiful view and I was able to catch up while they admired the scenery and we got this picture.


We made it to the top. Mile 12!


And then mile 13.


I love this bridge. I have a picture of my dad standing here. It was a special memory for me and I thought about him a lot during the run, about driving this very road with him and stopping along the way to see all of these same views.


As you can see, at least this far back in the pack, people were just enjoying the view and soaking it all in. This was not a go-all-out kind of run, it was an enjoy-the-experience kind of race. I must say the piano music was quite beautiful. We could actually hear it from a distance before we came up on it. It carried along the cliff walls and urged us to keep going, until we could see him.


..then 13.1, the halfway point...

What in the world is up with Mile 13.7? Over half way? Yes, for sure...


This was the point where J-Ninja and SIL surged ahead and their neon leg warmers disappeared. I wouldn't see them again until Mile 23--when I would pass them in the Shag Wagon....more on that later.

This also seems like a good place to close for the night. After all how many pictures can I fit in one post? I'll get the second half, or last 6.3 rather, up tomorrow hopefully.

So what do you think? Have you ever DNF'd? It is hard, nothing good about it. I feel completely defeated, all around, not just in the race but in life. But it is temporary, I won't let it keep me down. I have to pick myself up and keep on. But for now my pride and my heart hurt. A feeling I am becoming quite familiar with. I am due a stroke of good fortune....soon, I hope.


  1. I'm so sorry!!! I know it must be so tough not to finish, but it was the smarter thing to do. I know you don't really ant to hear this and won't believe this now. But in a few weeks, when you look back, you might be glad you did stop to take care of your self. I hope your doctor takes it seriously and can help you, so you will be back running soon. The pictures are beautiful!!!

  2. My heart goes out to you. I'm sure it was so hard to DNF but it was the wise decision when you're hurting like that. There will be other races. Big hugs, take care of that knee.

  3. I think any runner can feel your pain and share your tears... I can't wait to read the rest of your race report.

  4. Sorry to hear about the day, I'm sure it was very difficult.

  5. So sorry girl. Never ever an easy decision. Beautiful pics, hard day. :-(

  6. So sorry girl. Never ever an easy decision. Beautiful pics, hard day. :-(

  7. So sorry girl. Never ever an easy decision. Beautiful pics, hard day. :-(

  8. What a BEAUTIFUL course, wow! Hilly! So sorry about your dnf, but I think it was the smartest thing to do. Sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing. Can't wait to hear the rest.

  9. Oh, I am so sorry! That must be so disappointing, not to mention what a painful and brutal run you went through! You definitely made the right choice... as hard as it was. Try to be kind to yourself-- there will be more options to prove yourself again!

  10. I'm so sorry!! My heart goes out to you and I know this just stinks!!! I had my first DNF this year during a 20 mile race. I found out I was pregnant just a week beforehand. I was doing great but I had run out of fuel and my stomach was starting to cramp. Not wanting to risk the pregnancy I stopped at mile 17...had I known the sign for mile 17 was literally around the corner I probably would have walked. It stunk to stand there to wait for the sweeper van to get me. You made the right choice and there is next year to Rock it!!!

  11. Heartbreaking, for sure :( I'm sure it was the only choice at that point though. Your pictures are absolutely stunning though, can't wait to see the rest.

  12. Beautiful pictures! I'm sorry about the DNF but sometimes it just can't be helped. When reaching for big things like we do with long distances, sometimes you fall just a little short, but the thing is, that is usually what drives us even harder next time. :) This was no fault of your own, your body was telling you something and you had no choice but to listen. Get your knee healthy and go back next year for redemption.
    Looking forward to the rest of the race report!

  13. I'm so sorry you had this experience. It definitely sucks being sick before a big race. The pictures are beautiful and it still looks like an amazing experience.

  14. I'm so sorry that you had such a tough day out there, but it sounds like you made the right decision. Your DNF will let you (and your knee) live to run another day. And I admit that looking at the pictures I was distracted and repeatedly thought 'I have to run Big Sur!' Take care!

  15. So sorry to hear...I hope you are physically feeling better. The photos are beautiful, amazing. I have never been to the west coast..

  16. You don't know me, but I Found your blog and was so excited you were going to do this race. I've participated in the relay many times. I'm so sorry you had a DNF, but you were injured, so stopping was smart and it leaves you to be able to race another day. Don't beat yourself up - RICE and feel better.

    Next year, my team and I are planning on participating - It will be a great year!

    Belinda Ellis

  17. Sorry about the DNF -- but you made the right decision. You want to run in the future so better to stop during that race to save your knee for future races! Hope it's nothing serious. I like the flying jacket picture and i think your shadow in the other one is the shadow that crosses the white line, not the guy on the left. Love your race recaps always! Looks like a beautiful course...

  18. Sorry you are feeling bummed about your DNF. It sounds like you gave it all you had. No one can ask for more than that of themselves. Hang in there!
    Love your pictures! Races like this are fun to do - a kind of sight-seeing road race!

  19. Sorry you had such a tough outcome in the midst of such a spectacular setting. Like the fact that you're already calling out the rematch. Next time you'll own this one.

  20. So far it reads like a fairly good race even if the DNF is coming. At least you enjoyed the journey regardless of the distance, right?!?

    I love the photos. There are never too many.

  21. I'm so sorry you're unhappy but it looks BEAUTIFUL and now I want to tackle it too. Wow.

  22. Sorry about the DNF. Never easy. I noticed a really cool thing in your post though - your line "next year, there will be a rematch." What a great attitude - take it on! Can't wait to read the rest of the story!!

  23. My heart goes out to you... sounds like you made the right decision though. There will be other marathons... and, since you didn't injure yourself worse, you will be able to do other tris and races this summer :)
    Big Hugs!

  24. Ugh!!! :( You know you did the right thing but I can only imagine how hard it must have been to make the decision. Sending you big virtual hugs girl!

  25. argh, sorry to hear about the dnf. never easy but sounds like you did the right thing!

  26. Very sorry to hear about your DNF. It seems your body was protesting with the knee and the virus/cold thing.

    Thanks for the photos. I am looking forward to the last 6.3!

  27. Even Rocky didn't didn't beat Creed the first time. Hope the leg feels better, and it's nothing too serious. You'll get 'em next year, champ.

  28. Hey! Just perusing Sur recaps and found your blog. I was there too, what a challenge! I am so sorry to hear about your knee pain and DNF. I can totally understand what you were going through. I really appreciate your recaps(s) and all the photos - it brought the day back to me in a way I wasn't expecting. Thank you!!!

  29. So sorry about your DNF, but 20 miles in a tough marathon like that is great. Congrats on what you've accomplished!


You're pretty much awesome!!


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