The Day I (Didn’t) DNF

10 May

Hey guys! Sorry I’ve been MIA – Something about Sunday’s race kicked the life out of me. After going to bed at 9 last night and a massage tonight I’m feeling a bit more human.

So, let’s back up, shall we?

Sunday morning I woke with the alarm at 6 a.m. And, I didn’t want to get up, so I snoozed. Luckily I stayed in Providence the night before, so I didn’t have to rush. I got up at 6:10 and meandered my way down to the ever so convenient Starbucks located in the hotel. Damn good thing I did – it was already chock full of runners, being that it was about 2 blocks from the start.

I got myself an iced coffee, a bagel, and a banana. I nervously munched and sipped as I got ready. As I was wrapping up my preparation, I reached into my bag for my Garmin, and *GASP* IT WAS DEAD! It must’ve turned on when I tossed it into my bag!

I was panicking because I had hopeful big plans (big plans that didn’t come to fruition – but really, I only ran twice a week for the past 7 weeks so…’nuf said) and I really wanted my Garmin. I was convinced it was going to be a bad day.

When I met up with Coachy and our friend Don, I told them about my Garmin. Coachy and Don were running together anyway, so (being the wondaful person that he is) Coachy gave me his Garmin to wear (thank you thank you THANK YOU AGAIN!). It’s the same as mine but the boy version.

We then met up with Jess, Scott, and Christine, right by the start line. After a long drive from northern MA to RI the girls had to find a bathroom, so while they did that I saw the marathoners off (aka Coachy and Don).

Me, Jess, Scott, and Christine lined up around the 10 minute pace and chatted a bit, took a few pics, and tried to keep our minds off of what was about to go down. Next thing we knew we were off.

About half a mile in I remarked to Jess that we had already lost Christine – but Christine had decided she was going to start slow (smooth move – you can read all about it in her recap). I’m totally doing that next time.

I really never felt great during this race. I’d talk to Jess for a bit – Scott would gesture for us to catch up to him – we’d go silent and just run.

I slowed around Mile 4 water stop, but caught back up to Jess and Scott. They were moving at a pretty good clip, and my confidence was slipping. It was humid, the clouds burned off and the sun was fully out. Between the humidity and the very high levels of tree pollen in the air, I couldn’t breathe.

I told Jess around Mile 5 that I was dropping back, to go ahead without me.

That’s when the mind games started. I knew I was holding a pace well enough to PR, but not get my ultimate goal (which you guys all know what that is by now so I’m not speaking about it).

I finished Mile 5 and 6 strong, and even Mile 7 considering the biggest hill on the course (100ish foot climb) exists between 6.5 and 7.5 miles.

But during Mile 6 and 7 I hyperventilated. I cried. I convinced myself that I was not going to finish this race.

I said it quite a few times. “What if you just quit?” “You can DNF, save your leg, save your knee, just stop running.”

You see, my knee was wigging out on all the up and down. I didn’t do any real good pre-race stretching and I spent hours walking around on Saturday.


I knew there was a medic around Mile 8ish, because we passed the ambulance around Mile 4. I stopped there and got some tape for my knee.

I had started the race with my knee strap on but it just wasn’t cutting it.

I then realized that I was being a complete fool for even thinking I was going to quit this race. There was nothing wrong with me other than a bitchy knee. I knew how to control it, and I did. I powered on and even managed to save my pace after the unplanned knee repair stop.

Then Mile 9 started. Also known as the mile with “that damn downhill”. You guys know I love running downhill, but this is ridiculous. You drop from 93 feet to 10 feet in about half a mile. It’s a steepy.

But I managed to really pick up my pace and have an awesome Mile 10.

Then another UPHILL. I talked about this last year too – some really evil person decided it was a good idea to put a long steady uphill in between Mile 10 and 11. It’s also on the Rock N Roll Providence course, almost at the same mileage, in case you’re planning on running that one.

I walked. I cursed. I cried. I ran (if you can call it that). Relief came in the form of another super but not so steep downhill. I looked at my Garmin though, and I knew if I could just stay strong a little while longer that I’d have a PR that I’ve been working for – FOR A YEAR!

Then suddenly I heard a voice from behind me.

IT WAS CHRISTINE! Oh she could not have come at a better time. I told her about my knee, and she was really rocking it – the slower start and steady pace really kept her strong.

We ran, and chatted. I warned her about the Team in Training signs in the park (all about people who have passed from cancer – so sad, but so inspirational – they make me cry. Last year I hyperventilated from crying).

We pushed each other almost to the end. We cursed out the fact that Mile 12 was DEFINITELY long and we couldn’t find “the damn sign.”

We saw (RI) Jess at the Whiskey Republic, cheering for us! That gave me another bit of energy!

Somewhere right before Mile 13 I dropped back from Christine. She told me if I lost her she’d cry (thank you for that, BTW – I didn’t want to make you cry) – so I made sure I stayed in sight, even if behind her.

The final stretch came and I somehow got the burst of energy I needed to power across the finish line.

Official Time: 2:10:10 – a 3 second PR.

This was, mentally, my hardest race ever.

I truly wanted to quit.

I wanted nothing more than to walk off the course and lay in the grass.

I had myself convinced that I was coming back to this computer to write to you guys about an extremely disappointing race.

Instead I came back with a PR.

I came back with a new respect for the training plan.

I came back PROUD of my friends for their amazing times – Jess and Scott with a 2:03:10 (a 2-ish minute PR) and Christine with a 2:09:44 (also a 2-3ish minute PR!).

I EVEN came back to the course and ran a mile or so with Coachy and Don when they came through on their way to finish the marathon.

As I reflect upon Sunday and write this post I’ve learned a lot. How to trust that my body will get me there – even if I wasn’t as trained as I would have liked to be.

Super props to Jess for removing the words “undertrained” from my race day speak. It was all I had to say for a while post-race. But she corrected me.

I learned that quitting is not the answer (unless, of course, you are actually doing more harm to your body – in that case, please quit. I knew I wasn’t harming myself. I was just pissed off and frustrated by the fact that sub-2 had slipped from my grasp yet again. On my 4th try.)

I learned that I am going to train my ASS off all of June and July and when the times comes in July and August to run my next two 13.1 races – I WILL own them, and I will get that sub-2. No questions asked. It helps that by then I’ll be running longer than 13 miles as I train for Chicago.

There ya have it folks. My extremely long winded, at times sad, at times educational, race report.

I hope you enjoyed it!

Thanks to everyone on Facebook, Twitter, and Daily Mile for all of the congrats for my finish and PR. Your words mean more to me than I can ever describe.

And thank you to Coachy, Don, Jess, Scott, Christine, (RI) Jess, Martha, & Kevin for being there for me. I love you guys!



P.S. The pics in here were totally stolen (with permission) from Jess and Christine. Thanks girls!


34 Responses to “The Day I (Didn’t) DNF”

  1. jshade77 May 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    You did AWESOME!! So proud of you for pushing through a really mentally tough race, and I had so much fun hanging with you and the gang afterwards! xoxo

    • runcupcake May 11, 2012 at 7:16 am #

      I’m so glad you came to the race and hung out with all of us afterwards! Can’t wait to do it again!

  2. Heather@Just a Colorado Gal May 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    A PR is still a PR and you fought for every second! Nice job lady 🙂

  3. Wild Things Run Free May 10, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    AMAZING job fighting through that rough race!! It takes a lot of mental strength to just keep trudging when your body says quit. Congratulations on the PR. 😀

    • runcupcake May 11, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      Thank you. It would’ve been so much easier to stop, but this running game sure ain’t easy! 😉

  4. cmgiamattei May 10, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    what a great and HONEST recap! and you PR’d!!! a PR is a PR. and i totally get wanting to DNF and not feeling a race. but you never ever gave up and that’s inspiring!

    now, just think how even more you’re going to PR on your BEST DAY! they’re coming for both of us. ***cough 1:59 cough*** i KNOW it!

    • runcupcake May 11, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      hehe it is coming for us – all 3 (er, 4) of us! We’ll be there before we know it! 😀

      Thanks for all your support! XOXO

  5. cmgiamattei May 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    you freaking PR’d!!!!! 🙂
    and i know exactly what you mean about wanting to DNF and not feeling a race – it’s the worst thing in the world – but you never ever quit! and then drove it home to get your PR. YAY!

    now just think of how well you’re going to do when you run your BEST DAY!


  6. Lindsay (@LeanGrnBeanBlog) May 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    so proud of you for fighting through! you rock, girl!

  7. Elle May 11, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    Good job! And nice going on the PR too. I am runnig my first half on Sunday and your determination to finish will help me, I know. Thanks for sharing.

    • runcupcake May 11, 2012 at 7:14 am #

      Good luck on Sunday! I can’t wait to hear how you do! 🙂

  8. cottercrunch May 11, 2012 at 6:31 am #

    so proud of you! the mental part is the hardest, and you fought it!!

    • runcupcake May 11, 2012 at 7:14 am #

      Thank you thank you! It sure is hard, and so much more draining than a hard physical race!

  9. Tina Reale (@tinareale) May 11, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Super inspirational. Our bodies can do amazing things. Also glad to hear you rested up and got a well-earned massage. Way to go! <– on the race, not the massage haha!

    • runcupcake May 11, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      It is truly amazing what our bodies are capable of! Thanks for the support friend! 🙂

  10. krisranhere May 11, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    What a physical and mental rollercoaster! You rock girlie!!

    • runcupcake May 11, 2012 at 7:16 am #

      Thank you thank you! I think (4 days later) I finally feel normal again!

  11. Heather Iacobacci (@hriacobacci) May 11, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Love the recap and appreciate you taking the time to put it all down. I think all races are emotional in some way, shape or form. They are all so different. You never know where your mind will be, how your body will be. And to stop and get taped up and still get your PR – that’s pretty damn fantastic!

  12. christa May 11, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Thanks for the knowledge about the R&R half and the hill. I am coming down to run it in August. Glad you finished!

  13. bendiful May 11, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    Way to FIGHT for a PR! Sometimes we just have to shut up the voice in our heads and DIG! Great job!

  14. Jess Sutera May 11, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    I am SO proud of you friend, SO proud. You fought that mental mind game issue that always pops up at the *worst* possible times (um hi, why do you have to appear during a RACE??) and you overcame. Overcame injury. Overcame mind games causing you to question your abilities. Overcame YOU. Truly. That’s what you did on that course. You overcame yourself and you proved to the one person that it matters to most — YOU — that you are a killer runner, you are strong, you are amazing and you are fabulous. Never forget it. (and thank you for kicking that ‘undertrained’ word from your vocab, much appreciated, hehe). xoxo

  15. Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) May 11, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    A PR is a PR! You should be proud! Races that are mentally tough like that one can be so hard to overcome, but you pushed through. WAY TO GO!

  16. jobo May 11, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    I am glad you took time to really think this through and write this later, after you digested it a bit. This was definitely a mental run for you, but more importantly, you realized your body IS capable and CAN do what it remembers doing, a zillion times over! You may not have felt trained enough, but girl, you run all the freakin time, and lots and lots of miles. Even if you hadn’t trained at all, your body would have taken you there. And it did! AND with a PR! Maybe not the PR you had secretly hoped for, but a win, is a win, is a win. Congratulations, my friend, you are an inspiration. Dig deep, always worth it. Love you!

  17. nycrunningmama May 11, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Congrats, Samantha!!! You should be SO proud of yourself – you haven’t been running a ton and you still pushed through and finished (and PR’d) when you were ready to quit. That says a ton about your will to finish. =)

  18. Carissa @Fit2Flex May 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m proud of you for finishing. All those emotions and still a PR! That’s awesome. How’s your knee holding up now?

    • runcupcake May 15, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      Thank you thank you! The knee feels a lot better. It’s not actually my knee that’s the problem, it’s my IT band, but it makes my knee hurt. I’ve been stretching and foam rolling like crazy!

  19. misszippy1 May 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Congrats Samantha–way to pull it out! And a PR at that. I love the confidence that it gave you for next time around! And you all look great together–glad you had a crew on the course with you.

    • runcupcake May 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      Thank you so much! It’s amazing how much you learn from a tough mental race!

  20. Pavement Runner (@PavementRunner) May 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Rock star! Rock star! Rock star! You should be so amazingly proud of yourself. This will be a race that you will always remember. Plus, you can use this as motivation on a future race. “remember when… well, it’s not as bad as it was then, and I PR”d.”

    • runcupcake May 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      That’s a fantastic point! Thank you, I’m keeping that in my “motivation bank”!

  21. livelovenrun May 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    I just want to reach through my screen and hug you. Hug you hard. I want you to know that BECAUSE you worked so hard in that race and fought your mind…you inspire me beyond words. I’m terrified of my upcoming race. I haven’t gone past 4 miles yet, which is my longest run ever, and I’m wondering if I’ll be stuck there like always. But I’m going to keep going. You should be VERY proud of yourself for overcoming so much in one day. 🙂

    • runcupcake May 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

      Your comment brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Which has been every day since you wrote it. You are sweet beyond words, and I truly appreciate your words to me.

      Don’t think too far ahead. I was petrified the first time I ran 4 miles. Then 5 miles. Then 6. You get the picture. But don’t doubt yourself – you know what you are capable of, and you can absolutely go out there and kick this half marathon in the butt. I just know it!

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