This past weekend on Sunday, November 10, 2013 I ran in the Pensacola Marathon. My wife, Aubrey, also participated in her very first half marathon. We had a great time and it was, for the most part, a great day. Aubrey finished her race well and with a very decent time. I however, well, where to begin? I think a definition is the right way to start.
- DNF (Did Not Finish)
- In racing Did Not Finish (DNF) denotes a participant who does not finish a given race, either because of a mechanical failure, injury, or involvement in an accident.
No, I did not finish the race. More on that later.
The Pensacola Marathon course follows along with the half marathon runners in the beginning. It is not until about the 6 mile mark that the full marathon runners split off. This was great and enabled me to begin the race with Aubrey and another friend of ours who was also running the half. We all felt great for that first 6 miles, as far as I could tell. We held conversation, though short and to the point, and were for the most part happy and smiling. The views of the sun coming up over the water are always a pleasant site to take your mind off of running. There’s also the fact that 2,700 people were running, so there is plenty to keep your mind distracted.
When we reached the 6 mile split off point, Aubrey and I stopped and said a quick goodbye. Spirits were high and I was certain that I would see her at the end. My course took me up a side access street by the Pensacola Airport and then onto Spanish Trail. We ran all the way up to Aletheia Christian Academy and then made our way back to Summit Blvd. It was at this point that I knew I was working. My feet had been hurting for a while until I ignored them enough for my brain to get the point and stop screaming at me. My legs were also beginning to hurt. Ah… this is the marathon running I remember!
Crash and Burn
So somewhere around 16 to 17 miles my body started shutting down. My legs were in full cramp and scream mode from my hips all the way to my little piggies. I stopped a couple of times and sat on the side of the road massaging my legs and stretching. I’d been through this before so I figured I could get through it with a little break and some perseverance. I just needed to keep moving. By this time I was almost up to 12th Avenue. As I approached the intersection of 12th and Bayou I knew I was probably in trouble. I was getting really dizzy and nauseated. I’d felt like this before too, and it ended with a trip to the hospital. I pushed on past the intersection but that was as far as I could go. I didn’t see any first aid stations in sight and I felt like I was either going to vomit or pass out… or both.
I sat down and pulled out my phone. I knew Aubrey had already finished. We have apps on our phones (MapMyRun) that let us track each other and which notify us when the other is done working out (running). I sent her two messages: “I’m done” and “First Assembly”. She quickly called me up and verified that I was finished with the race and was requesting a pickup. I walked over to First Assembly church, found a decent shady spot out in the parking lot and sat down. Aubrey arrived soon thereafter and took me home to recover.
So why couldn’t I finish the race? There are a couple of contributing factors that I can think of. First, my pace was a little quicker than I’d planned on. I was holding just over a 10 minute mile for the 16 miles that I was actually running. I’d planned on more of a 12 minute mile. It was warmer than I would have liked that day, which isn’t surprising considering past experiences with this race. There’s also my training; I hurt my left foot right before the peak of my training schedule and was forced to lay off of running for a little over two weeks. So, was it one of these? Was it all of them? Was it something I’m not thinking of? I have no idea, nor am I going to dwell on trying to figure it out. There are a myriad of factors that go into preparing for and running well in an endurance race.
What I am going to focus on is what is next? Yes, I definitely will be running more marathons. My son said that the Pensacola Marathon is cursed for me. I completed my first marathon in this race, but it ended with an ambulance ride to the hospital. This time I didn’t finish. All I have to say about that is, watch out 2014! All I can do is continue to run, live healthy and try my best. We also have the Pensacola Double Bridge run coming up (15k) and there are several half marathons in this area at the first of the year. Now that Aubrey is broken in on long distance running, I’m really looking forward to running more of these with her. That’s the best scenery I could ask for.