Half Marathon today and yes, I failed to finish.

Perfect pre-run planning. Slept reasonably well. Had all laid out the night before. Rocked up at Clontarf with breakfast supplies and lots of water on board.

Yes, it was hot-by Irish standards, very hot. But I could have managed that.

I lined up at with the third wave-those looking for a two hour half. Looking around me, I`d plainly chosen the right group. Not a garmin in sight and lots of out of shape types.

There were lots of capri leggings too. Given the heat, that was a tad too much clothing. There was even a man in a lycra one piece, like a shortie wetsuit. Lord only knows how he intended to peel it off at the end of the run-I just hope he had help.

Oh, and a girl with a camel pack. You know, those back packs filled with water with tubing attached for easier hydration. Yep, it was hot but hey, she wasn`t exactly running a marathon in the Sahara.

Anyway, the assortment convinced me that this was a place for me. No tearing off with garmin clad sweaty men in the second wave.

Ambled off down the path after the two hour pacers. Over the delightful wooden bridge and on to the beach.

And there, running on soft sand, trouble struck. The back niggle I`d been harbouring developed into a persistent screech. I slowed, it didn`t help. I tried to catch up but it made it much worse. Everything else felt fine. Just the persistent back pain. I debated over and back. Sometimes I can out run that niggle. Went on for another kilometre or so tossing the facts around in my head. Meanwhile the two mile pacer balloons were heading off into the blue. If I kept going, I`d make a lousy time. I`d also risk making the back much worse.

I bailed out.

Once I`d made the decision I actually began to enjoy myself. The beach rambled off in one direction towards Howth. And in the opposite direction there were fabulous views of Poolbeg lighthouse and the chimneys at Ringsend. I contented myself with a nice stroll on the beach, enjoying the sunshine and taking lots of pics.

The Clontarf half bills itself as the flattest half in Ireland. It must be, as it`s run all along beach and promenade along the Dublin coastline. On a day like today, it`s a glorious sight. Two thousand people winding their way like multi-coloured threads around the bay for over ten kilometres and then back again.

Of course, the lead pack were returning just as the some of the third wave were at the five kilometre point. I honestly think some of those third wavers deserve more kudos for doing such runs as I could see they were suffering more than the elite crew. Perhaps, more to the point, some third wavers really shouldn`t be there at all. A lot of them were in no condition to run that far and I wondered if they were doing their bodies more harm than good.

Anyway, I`m one of that lot now. Last year my fastest half marathon was in two hours eight minutes. Perhaps that then will always be my personal best for that distance. I`d felt fit enough then to run with the second wave. But maybe that`s as fit as I`ll ever get.

Who knows?

I`m clear about a couple of things:

Gotta sort the back out.

Gotta do more cross training.

Gotta keep trying.

Today, as I walked beside the glittering sea and enjoyed the warmth of the sun I reminded myself why I run.

I am not trying to break records. I am not trying to beat anyone else. I am not trying to beat my own previous times. I run to stay healthy, sane and fit and to have fun.

I hope I have more races left in me. But mostly, I hope to keep enjoying running.

Or else I`ll have to change the name of this blog…

19 thoughts on “DNF

  1. Gosh, just saw this. How emotional. On another day that could be me, as I have to do back-strengthening exercises. You must have been heartbroken. Glad you are positively looking forward to your next one.

    • On another day this could be me again. And again. I know having phases of injury is true for a lot of people who run so honestly, I didn`t get too upset. More bothered that I might never climb out of the pit again. But as long as I can get out there and enjoy some of my training sessions and all of the great outdoors, then I`m happy, really.

  2. You live to fight another day RH. A pound (well euro) to the penny some Pilates/core work would do your back no end of good. Running on the beach is tough I’d say. Several times during my time in Dublin I ran from Howth DART station, around the peninsula and back into town via Clontarf. Thanks for the pic memories of Poolbeg.

    • It`s a glorious part of the city. And yes, I really did think of you when I was taking those pics. Will throw some more up into my photo gallery in the next couple of days. Once Poolbeg bites, it`s in your heart forever.

  3. Well at least you got a got photo album out of it 🙂

    Have you tried Pilates for core & back strength building ?

    There will be more races and better days so don’t dispear.

    That spam thing seems odd, maybe the heat again !

  4. NOT a massive failure RH that would have been not to show, which given the temperatures would have been me. Do hope the back sorts itself out. Is is low back pain that seems connected to your leg movement? Curious as that’s what I had a VLM and some of my longer runs.

    • I have had low back pain in the past. And honestly in day to day life it doesn`t affect me too much. Just running. I think it may be due to complete absence of any evidence of abdominal musculature!;-) You know how LAZY I am about core exercises. Had a good luck at those female front runners yesterday. Gleaming with muscle, wearing bra tops and tiny shorts. Well, that`s not me! Foot probs-change of posture-probably aggravated the situation.

  5. Ok, I’m attempting a comment and hoping to not end up in your spam folder…

    As someone who can’t run 50 metres without getting out of breath, I always admire the stamina of those who run long distances, and when I say ‘long distances’, I’m talking 100 metres plus. Actually as I type that, I’ve just remembered hearing Sandi Toksvig on Radio 4 just after the Olympics, she said “The Olympics has even inspired ME to get sporty, I’ve taken up running. My personal best in the 100 metres is…50 metres.” Ha! Yep, that’s me. I can dance energetically for hours, but running, nope.

    Anyway, I’m rambling now, but there is really no shame in quitting under the circumstances you described, no point forcing an injury and risk causing greater damage, I know it must be frustrating though. Those pictures are amazing though, looks like something from a post apocalyptic film set!

  6. Good job Red Hen. It takes a strong person to listen to their body and know when to stop. I hope you get the back niggles sorted. I echo your reminders of why you run, you said that so well. Loved your post and the photos.

      • Dear Red Hen, the only failure would have been to press on and risk making the back niggle worse. I hope I will be as strong as you if ever I’m in the same situation.

      • Now, that I do know. I`ve pressed on in the past and it left me with foot problems for months post marathon. I don`t believe I`d have the courage to pull out of a marathon though. The aggravated foot problems were worth it!

  7. I think you have to know when to quit – sounds like a wise decision. At least it wasn’t 34C as it is down here!
    Keep running, I’ve never made it to a half – yet.

    • Oohhhh, just found you in my spam folder! Thank you for your last post. I wouldn`t have known to look for it otherwise. And I know you’re not a spammer. Found THREE comments of yours in there. Hmmmmm.

  8. Sometimes you just have to do what’s right on the day. Tough though. Glad you managed to make the most of the views etc anyway, and I hope no-one overdid it in all that warmth. 🙂 Hope your back feels much better soon.

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