Tag Archives: Did Not Finish

How to get over a DNF heartbreak: part I

I came off the Queen City Marathon course at the 15k mark with injury to my left upper calf: the “popper” muscle I call it (popliteus).

I had been for a run last Monday when I developed a tight calf muscle. I wrote about it earlier. I was hoping for the best but knew I might not be able to cross the finish line yesterday.

I was fine until 14.5 k. The pain was a dull roar, a tightness, and I was about 10 sec/km off my pace, which was OK by me. After 50 minutes on the course I was just getting warmed up and starting to enjoy the run. I had re-adjusted my goal and I just wanted to finish in 5 hours or less.

Then, on Assiniboine Avenue right next to the cemetery and across from an Apostolic church, I felt a sharp pain that drew me up into a limp and slowed my pace by about 30 sec/km. Another 500 m and I knew, with 25k to go, I wouldn’t even finish within 5 hours and this could only turn into a miserable death march.

It was really heartbreaking – I have never, ever DNF’d before and it feels like crap. But I made the right decision- I had to stop running or risk a really crippling injury. There’s “fatigue” pain you can run through and then there’s sharp, localized pain that is bad news. Smart runners know the difference. I want to be a healthy runner and I want to run the 8k in Victoria in a month’s time.

So how do you get over a DNF heartbreak? I dunno – you tell me.

I’m still in Saskatchewan for a few days – the bright light of my day is when I visit with my friends, my son, my daughter and her baby. Otherwise I’m still glum, missing my finisher’s medal, feeling incredibly fit and raring to go; except for that damn “popper” muscle in my left leg.

Part II of this series is the post where I get over my DNF heartbreak, then report back on my findings. I’m open to ideas – can any runner out there who has bounced back from a DNF please tell me how you did it?

PS: race course volunteers are saints. Especially Patty and her daughter Becky, who gave me water, a place to sit and cry for a while, and a ride to the 25k mark where my son and his dad were waiting for me with extra water, motivational signs written in Greek (um – my son is a Classics major…) and a flask of Irish whiskey.