I wish that my run this morning went so well and so painlessly that instead of writing the following post, I was writing a race preview for Big Basin Marathon. Unfortunately, after 6 days off from running, multiple sessions of strength/rolling/stretching, daily icing, continued cross-training, and even a couple of strips of KT tape, I could not ignore the feeling of a nagging ache in my right hip as I finished 4 easy miles on the treadmill.
This morning’s run wasn’t all bad, though. (Happy National Running Day, BTW.) My left hip/glute and right hamstring stayed relatively quiet, which was a big #WIN in my book. Unfortunately, in their place, an ache started in my right glute and spread though my hip joint to my TFL/hip flexor area. It didn’t bug me until the very end of my run, so I was hopeful that it would just go away. However, as I stepped off the treadmill, I felt the same piercing pain that had bugged me 2.5 weeks ago at Lake Chabot (a.k.a. the first installment of the traveling pain).
I knew this was a very, very bad sign for Big Basin. For a couple of hours, I was in denial, thinking about how I could push through the pain on Sunday and still finish my first trail marathon. Looking for advice, I texted KP, who is also signed up for Big Basin, to tell her the mixed results from my run this morning. I mentioned that, despite the 99% chance of pain, I might start the race and see how I feel. Because she is a good friend and a wise runner, she responded, “Why do you want to run if you will be in pain the whole time?” Touché!
I took a hard look at the reasons why I wanted to run this race, which included:
- it would be my first trail marathon.
- I was excited about racing with KP. (Also I felt guilty about making her sign up in the first place.)
- I was excited about running through Big Basin Park.
- I was looking forward to meeting the other Jen, with whom I’ve been commiserating re: our injuries.
- I had already paid (but I could get a partial refund). (1/2 reason)
- it would qualify me for Marathon Maniacs. (1/4 reason)
Then, there were the arguments against racing:
- pain… for many, many hours. The pain was certain; the only question was where would it show up? (Note re: pain — sure, I could take a ton of ibuprofen, but I promised myself a long time ago that I would never, ever do that just to get through a race. It’s not worth it to me to mask the pain and risk getting a serious injury…)
- possibly injuring myself further
- not enjoying it, due to the above pain and injury
- prolonging the recovery period (or basically, starting all over again)
- if I DNF’ed (DNF = did not finish), I’d have to wait around for the aid station volunteers to finish up and hope that one of them would take me to the finish
- a DNF is listed on your race results forever, whereas no one has to know about a DNS (DNS = did not start) … except when you write about it on your blog – ha!
Really, it boiled down to one word: REGRET. What would I regret more, running and hurting myself, or not running at all? Since Big Basin hadn’t entered my radar until 5 weeks ago, the regret factor was relatively easy — this was NOT a goal race, and I’d much rather get healthy and finish my first trail marathon strong and smiling instead of limping and wincing. Not to mention, there’s the immediate future to consider — a 10 day trip to the East Coast in mid-June and the San Francisco Half Marathon (1st half) at the end of July. I would hate to still be recovering from an injury for those occasions. The fact that I could still get a partial refund was pretty sweet (actually, it’s race credit towards any Coastal race in the next 12 months, but it’s still better than nothing!). And finally, getting KP’s blessing to DNS sealed the deal.
The other way you know when you’ve made the right decision is when things click into place and you just feel so much better. When I was still thinking of running on Sunday, I was filled with doubt and trepidation. Many of the runners that I know well and trust advised me not to run, and I stubbornly ignored them, even though I knew they were right. Once I made the decision to DNS, I felt great. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I felt extremely relieved.
So, what’s next?? I’m not sure, except that there will be no running in my immediate future as I continue to do strengthening exercises. And when I do start feeling strong enough, I’ll start with very short runs and slowly build up mileage (like a smart person), especially now that I’m not pressured to run a marathon anytime soon. With this recent injury rollercoaster, I have to admit to feeling a little bit sad and frustrated, like I’ll never run long distances again, but I just have to remember to be patient and keep on working. Hopefully, I’ll be back before I know it.
Have you ever DNF’ed and/or DNS’ed? If you’ve done both, which was worse and why?