DNS- “Did Not Start,” it says next to my name in the record book for this year’s Berlin Marathon. While those letters sting more than I can describe, they certainly do not mean that I did not try.
Four months ago, I began training for marathon number four. As the hot and humid summer negatively affected my training, I knew I had to drop my ambitious time goal and run instead of race. Oh, and I moved to another country. That didn’t help matters given the time frame.
Undertrained, I was still looking forward to running another World Major Marathon and spending time in Berlin this weekend. I strategically planned the trip for optimal museum time without putting too much strain on my legs. However, a few days before I was scheduled to leave, I found out that Meme, one of my biggest runspirations, passed away. My priorities immediately shifted and I made an impromptu trip home.
This trip was accompanied by many emotions. The loss of my grandmother, who doubled as my friend, was difficult, especially being so far from home. That, along with the stress of missing class, extensive traveling, and missing the Berlin Marathon (that I struggled but persevered to train for) all became very frustrating when you add in the exhaustion and resulting headache.
I thought the race was out of the question until I FaceTimed with Daddio and he told me that I should still try to run. He made some good points, and while overwhelming, I knew I had to try. Meme would have wanted me to run, and it’s worth it to try and have it not work out than to never know. It is this combined determination and stubbornness that I inherited from Meme.
So, I coordinated a slew of one-way flights, traveled through seven cities, with four different airlines, and arrived at the marathon expo to pick up my number with just minutes to spare. All of this activity with a dividend of five days- if I pulled it off, I would have done cartwheels through the airport.
SIDE NOTE: I would like to recognize the restraint involved in listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and not belting out a single lyric because you are on an airplane. This restraint is far under appreciated.
It wasn’t until I got lost on the way to my hostel that the shear exhaustion of the week hit me like a high speed train. Trying to channel the badassery of Barefoot Boston, part of me thought, “Well I’m here, I may as well give it a go.” The other part of me decided that the exhaustion combined with being undertrained and alone was a recipe for disaster and the safer option would be to sit this one out. With my adjusted projected finish time and added exhaustion, catching my flight back to Scotland didn’t seem plausible. It is very important to respect the distance of a marathon. After all, without proper training, marathons can be dangerous. Still, the decision to sit out was painful to make.
My best friend summed it up pretty well by saying, “this seems like a lose-lose situation.” And she was right. I would be upset to not run, and I would feel terrible (physically and mentally) if I did run, not to mention running the risk of injury as well.
A DNS is frustrating to a marathoner no matter the reason. It’s easy to be upset because, although I’m not in the peak condition I originally planned, I still put in the hours of training and gave up a lot (especially a lot of family time) to get there. At the end of the day, I’m still only human. It wouldn’t have been healthy to run and that would have sacrificed my future running goals. I’m in this for the long haul, not to be outrun before turning 25. Maybe just one marathon a year will suffice!
And so, this “Did Not Start” has sparked the fire to begin working towards my next running goal. Wherever the next race may be, I’ll be sure to make it a good one because Meme has the best seat in the house.
Thank You Notes:
- Thank you for the outpouring of love and support my family received this week, and thank you to everyone for celebrating Meme’s life with us. This goes without saying, but she was a special lady.
- Thank you to my family for convincing me to give Berlin an honest try. I wouldn’t have been able to give it a go without your support.
- Thank you to the fellow marathoner I met on the flight to Berlin. We split a taxi from the airport, swapped stories of travels and marathons passed, and got to the expo on time (In case you are wondering, he finished with an incredible time!).
- Thank you to compression socks for keeping my legs race ready with all of this travel. If only the rest of my body could keep up!
- Thank you to Meme for a lifetime of wisdom, wise cracks, and peppermint patties. Your strength and determination have always inspired me and will continue to do so as I live, learn, and meander through life.