Well, NYC Half 2012 will go down as my first DNF (did not finish) as a runner. And I’m not even very upset about that…
I signed up for this half marathon with the intention of running fast (for me, which would be sub 1:40). But with the happenings of the past few months (a minor hamstring injury, then the big fall) I knew this race would be interesting — could be fast, could be slow. The other day, when I decided to go down and race anyway, I convinced myself I should still be able to run through the back pain and hold 8:00-8:15/mile pace for 13 miles, worst case scenario.
After a fun Saturday in the city with my mom (which I’ll be sure to share soon enough!) I woke up early Sunday morning, lathered on the Icy-Hot (back pain? what back pain?) and jogged from the hotel to the race start in Central Park. My back hurt a little bit warming up but that was no surprise. As the race started, I kept my plan to run as best I could for as long as I could. At mile one, I glanced at my watch and was surprised to see 7:12. Whoa! Quicker than it felt. Maybe I can still run this thing well? The second mile was a bit hilly, including “cat hill,” yet somehow I was holding pace, with a 7:15 for mile two.
And then, the flashback to my 2011 NYC marathon happened — my stomach started cramping on my right side. I tried to run it out with a breathing technique that’s worked in the past for me, but that wasn’t working. A random girl I’d been following began to get further and further in front of me, which I knew wasn’t a good sign. After a few more minutes, I glanced at my watch to see my pace had slowed to 8:30, and that was running down a hill. As I kept getting slower and slower, I quickly ran a few scenarios through my mind, which basically summarized themselves like this:
Cons of continuing to run – what if the cramping doesn’t stop? I really don’t want to do the whole stop-stretch-run-bathroom-run-stretch thing I did during the marathon. And if it does stop, slowing my pace by 1:30-? per mile for __ miles certainly isn’t going to result in a fast time. And no matter what, 13 miles with a not-so-healthy back isn’t going to feel good tomorrow… or the next day… week…
Pros of continuing to run – hmm, well since a fast time might be out the window… eating banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery guilt-free? 😉
Maybe I should’ve been tougher, but in that moment I couldn’t really think of a good reason to keep running. I had made myself fight through stomach pains to finish the NYC marathon, but you know… people wait their entire life to run that race. Not to discount a half marathon, but after running two marathons, in my own mind, a half marathon is just a half marathon. It’s not worth it to me to suffer and compromise my overall health to finish a 13.1 mile race.
So… I stopped. I think I was about 2.75 miles into the race. I asked a random woman if I could borrow her phone (people are so nice!) so my mom could come rescue me and my crampy, race-quitting self. Funny story: while waiting outside the park for my mom to meet me, a random security guy asked me why I wasn’t taking part in the race today, since I already had running gear on. I just smiled 🙂
I actually sort of felt relieved after the whole ordeal and not all that disappointed. Also, muffins from Magnolia bakery and outlet shopping on the way home always help.
It frustrates me a little bit that this has now happened twice in big races (my mom says I should stop running races in NYC…), but who knows, maybe the stomach cramping this time was a blessing in disguise? Tomorrow I’ll be able to go to the gym for a good (non-running) workout and that’s something I might not have been able to do for days or weeks if I had run the whole race today. I know I want to try to figure out how to prevent/deal with stomach cramping, but in the meantime, I’m going to be taking at least a couple weeks off running to try to put this back injury to rest!