Look, Mom! Your building!

DNF. DNF. Did. Not. Finish. 

If you are an avid road-racer you probably know what DNF stands for.  If you are not and do not know, see above.  Did Not Finish.

In my entire running career (expert in the house. hi.)  I have never had any type of DNF.  Not in the heat or the cold. Not in the morning or evening. Not in a race. Not in a long training run.  Not in a short training run.  Yes, I realize this post is sort of starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss book, my bad.

Yesterday started off fine. I was pumped for my first mid-week long training run and my first 17 miler. I ate normal. What is normal you ask? It doesn’t even matter.  I thought I was fine. Mary and I suited up and left to go run at 5 p.m., right after work. We started off kind of fast, which is how we always do, but slowed ourselves down to a nice easy pace.

We were running the East River, to South Street Seaport, around to West Side Highway, to the 72nd street entrance of the park for the first time ever. Everything was going pretty great–we were even joking about how today I should call this post “Just Follow the Path!” because of how many times we had to stop and ask people if the path went all the way around the island, since it was a little confusing, and they would tell us that. HEHE, HAHA this is fun!! 17 miles. CAKE WALK, BITCHES! 

West Side Sunset

Then we got to mile 8. If there is a way to describe the pain that I began to feel–I just I don’t even know if I could tell you.  My stomach started gurgling at a rapid speed and I know the truth was inevitable. This run was going to be crappy, literally.  Thank goodness there are bathrooms on the West Side Highway. Made my first stop–felt okay.


Then this is how the next 6 miles went: Started running slowly.  CRAMPS. CRAMPS. walk a little. bathroom. water. jog slowly. CRAMPS. AH CRAMPS! bathroom. cannot quit. walk a little. jog slowly. cry. will not quit. CRAMPS. can’t walk. really do not want to quit. call mom. sob in Central Park. get a cab home.

I quit. That is the only way I could think of it. In the cab on the way home all I could think of is the 3 miles that I did not run. Those 3 miles hanging over me like a freaking dark storm cloud of failure. I had never quit a run before.  Then I had to tell people that I didn’t make it.  My mom, my love, my running mentor. This was so embarrassing! My mom and my love both told me to forget it–but they just DID NOT UNDERSTAND.  H does not even run! Sure, my mom is training for a half-marathon. But had she ever had a horrible run that left her on the side of the road unable to move? Not that I have heard about! Besides, this was 17 miles. They didn’t get it! Right? Probably not right. But I wasn’t satisfied with their opinions.

Side note: Love you guys. Thank you for your unending support.

Then I got a phone call from the person who helps me with my running the most. My running mentor.  Basically… she told me that it was okay. That what happened to me, LITERALLY, happens to everyone at some point. That I have to realize that right now I am pushing my body further than I ever have. It was ONE bad run. 1, uno, singular, ONE. That I have to take the 14 miles, no matter how bad they were (and in case you didn’t get it yet, they were awful) use it as my long run and FORGET IT.  Throw it away.  I still have 10 weeks to run 3-4 awesome super long runs.  She was so right.  She also told me to eat a hamburger and fries.  She was right about that too. Yum.

So there you go guys. I didn’t finish the 17. I almost pooped my pants. I cried in front of hundreds of my fellow runners on the side of the Central Park run path. I ate a hamburger.  Running’s dirtiest secrets here.

Moral of the story? You will have bad runs. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, including yourself. Do what you can and when you cannot do it anymore do not push yourself to punishable limits. It just isn’t fair or smart. This morning I started off with a clean fitness slate, went to boot camp, kicked some butt and felt better.

Tomorrow I run. Tomorrow my training starts over. One run at a time I will get strong again. 

Do you have any horrific long run stories? What did you do to overcome them?

Happy Thursday!


5 thoughts on “DNF.

  1. Man, if I had a dollar for every run I haven’t finished, my running career would start to support itself 🙂 Sometimes starting the runs is more important than finishing them!

    I never have, and probably never will, DNF a race. I’m incredibly stubborn and have a lot of pride. But training is entirely different. You reach a point where you’re pushing yourself harder than you ever have before, asking your body to do things it never has before, and sometimes you just don’t get that right combination of things that let you keep pressing on. You ran FOURTEEN MILES. Most people can’t do that on the best day of their lives… hell, many can’t even accomplish that in a month or a year! There is absolutely nothing wrong with occasionally decided your body can’t meet the demands of what you’re asking it to do (particularly when you think you might poop your pants).

    I know it’s rough on you now, but believe me when I say that you’ll get past it. Marathon training is supposed to be challenging… if it gets easy, you’re not pushing yourself! You’ve got to learn to make the most of the days where you feel your best, and compromise with your body when you’re not quite there. You can still do this 🙂

  2. Wow I can’t believe you ran 14miles! The most I’ve ran so far since I started back running outside a few months ago is 6miles in one go!
    For my bad running story: I’ve been running to my parents house for dinner on Fridays about four or five Fridays so far this summer. I usually take the same route which is run down one street for about 2.5 miles and then down another street for about 2.5 miles and I’m there. One time I took a different route which is the same distance to get there but more turns which I think is what screwed me up. I wound up running only half way and then walking the rest and was late for dinner! I still got fed though lol!
    I’m heading out for a run now. I haven’t ran very much outside in the last few weeks as its been a hot summer!
    Happy Thursday to you too!

  3. You’re amazing Ashlee, and even though you’ve finally had your first DNF run I will still look up to you in awe. You are a freaking phenomenal runner. Glad you feel better and have a positive outlook on your run futures 🙂

  4. Bill Rogers told me back in 2010 when I stopped in to see him after the Boston Marathon that EVERY runner’s DNF is out there waiting for them. It will happen to everyone. Ask Ryan Hall and Desiree Davilla about that. They are pretty solid runners.

    My DNF came on my final 22 mile training run prior to NYC last year. I got a bout of the stomach flu and threw up 3 times over the first 15 miles. At mile 19 I crossed a part of the trail only 1/2 mile from my house. I stopped almost without thinking and walked home.

    Fever, chills, threw up again at home and those 3 miles mocked me. Made me so depressed. Here is the reality. They represented something like .33% of my training for New York City.

    I PR’d the marathon by 7 minutes in NY.

    Those miles that you didn’t run this week are less than 3 specks of sand on the beach. Flush it (literally:) and move on without looking back. You are going to be perfect on race day.

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