My first DNF

This morning, I started my first 5k on the track (if you don’t count a random one I ran sophomore year of high school in a solid time of over 20 minutes).

I also failed to finish my first 5k on the track.

It took 19 years, but I’ve officially DNFed a race.

Honestly, I knew two days ago that I wasn’t going to finish (or maybe even start) this race. Since scratching the 1500 last weekend because I had been sick for a week and a half, I struggled through another week of training while feeling less than stellar.   I wasn’t sleeping and was up half the night coughing up a lung. I finally went back to the student health center on Thursday morning and was pretty much diagnosed with bronchitis. I started taking prednisone and an inhaler on Thursday, and my cough got better relatively quickly, but unfortunately I started experiencing myriad other pleasant side effects: nausea, really bad bloating, some bathroom issues…the works.

On Thursday, we did our traditional light pre-meet workout of a warm-up, 8 x 200 in spikes with 200m jog, and a cool down. It felt like shit. I was running 35-37 for the 200s which should’ve felt like easy pick-ups, but I couldn’t go any faster for the life of me. I started crying to my coach later because I was so frustrated. We had a conversation Friday morning that was pretty therapeutic (there’s been other stuff going on in my life in addition to running going poorly/being sick). She suggested that maybe we just take the opportunity this weekend to travel and race the first 3k of the 5k, depending on how I was feeling.

The side effects of the drugs continued to affect me throughout Friday. We left on Friday morning and did a shakeout run once we got there, and it felt okay. Not great. We ate a late dinner on Friday night and woke up early on Saturday for the 9:15 am race.

I felt terrible. Hopefully this isn’t TMI, but I couldn’t go to the bathroom. Still felt abnormally crappy- I literally almost started walking on our warm-up. Unfortunately, I didn’t see my coach between warm-up and race time, so I wasn’t able to communicate how I was feeling. At this point I knew it wouldn’t be pretty. We did skips, strides, took our sweats off, and lined up on the line.

The gun went off, and our assigned pace of 83 seconds per lap (5:32 mile pace) felt deadly right away. By lap 2 or 3, I was probably in last, and I made angry/sad eye contact with my coach on every lap. When we came through 1000m with the sign that said “10 laps to go”, I almost laughed. There was no way I was doing 10 more laps. Physically, I was not in it. Mentally, I was absolutely not in it. After a little over a mile, my coach said, “Do you want to go through 3k?” and I said yes.

So I went through 3k. I probably came through in like 11 minutes or something before jogging off the track. First time I’ve ever experienced the pity-filled “good job” as I plodded off the track while the race kept going…

Depressing.

Oh, well.

I cheered on my teammates until they finished and then went off on my own for the cool down per my coach’s instructions. There were tears. There was a phone call to my mom. It wasn’t pretty.

The medicine I’m on has me feeling like a bloated, gravity-loving elephant, so that’s unfortunate. I am spending the rest of today eating my feelings (so far, a burger, sweet potato fries, and a jam-filled cookie have happened) before hopping back on the dedication train tomorrow. Once I finish the medication (I’ll probably stop on Monday), I am hoping that all of this will clear up and I will feel like myself again. I would love for running to feel normal again ASAP!

I’m feeling a little guilty because I’m racing the 5k at conferences in two weeks and, as of now, I have not finished a 5k. I’m feeling undeserving and embarrassed and frustrated.

So that’s where I’m at right now.

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