November 16, 2011

Rosaryville Veteran's Day 50K


Course Description: Rosaryville State Park, Upper Marlboro, MD. Cut off time of 8 hours, three loops on a trail through the woods at a little under 10 miles a loop. Little over 100 participants. 92 Finishers. Fastest time: 3:35, Slowest time: 7:52.

For those (few) of you that read this but have been hiding under a rock and somehow do not know my outcome of this race...I choose not to build the suspense and describe the race and THEN tell you the outcome. Rather, I will just spit it out now and get it out of the way.


(if I knew how to make that MAJORLY HUGE FONT, believe you me...I would.)

And I guess for the smaller subset of those already few of you that read this who are not runners, DNF stands for a lovely DID. NOT. FINISH.

My heart dies a little with the recognition of those words as they now apply to me.

So now that I have been so melodramatic, I will recap. Lucky for you, this will be MUCH shorter of a recap than it could have been, so you're welcome for only completing 10 of the 31 miles :)

Friday: I had the day off thanks to Veterans. The bf (that's boyfriend in this situation. Just clarifying. Or bragging? Not really sure.) and I hit the road for an hour drive to Upper Marlboro to stay at a hotel for the night before the BIG DAY (that's the race in this situation, let's not get all crazy). I was already anxious and not feeling confident about the race, though I kept thinking about a blog where the writer talks about perception and how if you think something is going to suck, it probably will. "Beginning a run with a negativity bias will make the run actually feel more difficult. Or if you think a 20-miler is long, the distance will be more pronounced in the way you experience it. If we think something is harder, we’re going to be biased in the way we see it. We have the power to alter our vision."

As true as I know that to be, I still couldn't quite 100% convince myself that this race would go well....and boy was I right. We relaxed a little the rest of Friday, ate a lovely night in Temple Hills, what whaaat?! And hit the hay.

In the morning, I argued over which pants I wanted to wear, we packed up, loaded the car, and brought ourselves to Rosaryville State Park for a little 31 mile jog in the woods.

Did I mention how cold it was that morning? I was freezing. I had on slightly longer capri running pants, my blue St. Jude Nike singlet my sister bought me, my bright orange arm warmers, and my purple long sleeve shirt my mom just bought me. And my ear warmer from MCM, and gloves. And my Brooks Cascadias. And not warm enough socks because my feet were numb.

We picked up our bibs, glanced at the map, and traded hellos with a few people. I freaked out a little more (what's new...). Then we 'lined up' by the race clock, the anthem was sung, and with a simple GO we were off down the paved road for about a mile before heading into the woods. I told the bf to go ahead and we decided he would just wait for me at the end of the first loop, he would relax for the second loop, and then rejoin me for the third to get me to the finish (yes, SUCH a great man!). I lost sight of him before we hit the actual trail, but kept sight of my two coworkers for a little bit until they too were out of my sight. No biggie. I had already coped with the fact that I could very well be the last person to finish this race. I made friends with the people in front and behind me, let people pass me, then I was the only one in the back O:) happens.

The course has little baby rolling hills through beautiful woods. You can see people ahead of you on some sections with the way the trail snakes around, I found this cool. There's a bridge that you cross, some open meadow type areas, streams and other water, good change of scenery.

At around mile 5 things started to really get ugly. I managed to trip just a few times, though I must say this trail is amazing. It's pretty clearly marked and other than the leaves everywhere covering a few roots, the actual trail wasn't too dangerous. I was already feeling wonky in my legs but I tried to put it out of my head, that whole perception is reality stuff. I had the usual shin splint on my bad ankle leg, my toes already hurt, my legs already hurt, I was starting to have a difficult time breathing (did I mention I was sick for a few weeks before this and still sick on race day?). Usually I can suck up two problems during a race, but when they start to pile up it's harder to shake off and keep trudging along. The issues just kept getting worse. I think I cried around mile 7 because that is when I finally had to make a decision and tell myself that this race is not where I would become an ultra marathoner. An incredibly hard pill to swallow for me. I hadn't even been able to convince myself to do the second loop.

During my loop, I was playing rabbit with a very inspiring gentleman. He lifted my least for a little while. During our conversations I learned that he just started running last April, like me last June. This was his first 50K also. And he had lost a large amount of weight as a result of his efforts with running. He seemed to be putting everything he had into this race and I really admire that about anyone.

I got LAPPED by the top three males, which is motivating as well. I always love watching the fast people do what they do best, but I have to admit that it was slightly disheartening, and they caught me at a bad mile where I was having my little cry fest. Which now that I think about it, it may have happened around mile 5 (the cry fest. the lapping happened at mile 9) :/ Sooo soon.

Anyway, I finished out the loop walking a LARGE amount of the second half, simply because it hurt too much to run. I had high hopes that my little cry-fest in the middle of the loop would equate to me holding it together after exiting the loop. Not the case.

The volunteers could see me before I was off the trail and started clapping and cheering for me, which I think only made things harder to cope with. Everyone was so supportive the entire way. They gave me the thumbs up when I finally was exiting the loop and all I could do was give them the thumbs down and mutter that I was quitting. With tears welling up in my eyes, I faced them and told them that today just was not my day, and that I could not continue on. They made sure I was physically okay, offered me a ride back to the start (a .75 mile walk away), and I motioned to them that I needed to go talk to my bf first. They informed me who to tell that I was dropping out so that they didn't think we were still out on the trail. I walked across the parking lot to the bf, trying to suck up the crying that had just ensued, but once he asked me how I was it just let loose. Having to admit out loud that you need to quit is a very difficult thing. Having to quit 10 miles sooner than you had thought, also difficult. I envisioned that if I had to bail out before the finish, it would be 20 miles, 2 loops.

I don't know if I've ever felt more disappointed in myself in this aspect of life. I felt completely betrayed by my body, and I was having a really hard time coming to grips with the fact that it hurt so badly only 10 miles in. I felt defeated.

I stubbornly told the bf that we could walk the .75 mile back to the car (not my best idea. hi pride, could you step aside for a moment and make room for logic?) I half cried the walk back, the type of crying where you're crying but trying to look like you aren't crying...even though everyone knows you're crying. You aren't fooling anyone. When we got to the car, I called my mom. She was surpised to hear from me so soon, and I love her for first asking 'You already finished?' Instead of saying 'it's only 11, why are you calling so early?' So then that pretty much opened the flood gates (luckily the bf was not near me for this). I told her why I was so upset and she comforted me with saying how proud she is that I even went out there, two weeks after my first full marathon, and attempted this while sick. She told me to be proud of myself.

The rest of the weekend my legs felt as if I had been running nonstop for days. Those ten miles left me battered, but confident that I made the right decision not to continue in the race.

Surprisingly, this DNF did not squash my goals for future 50ks or the JFK 50. It only helps propel me forward. I haven't run since Saturday, and I miss it and feel like a big lazy nothing...but I know my body needs to time off from running. I'm learning a ton from this experience, and I think it's hard for people to understand what it feels like to DNF unless they've gone through it as well.

Rosaryville 50K, we'll rematch in 2013.


  1. You definitely shouldn't feel ashamed about a DNF!! It happens to all of us. Especially since it was so soon after your marathon!

    Keep your chin up, you'll come back stronger! Hope to see you out on the trails soon.

  2. I'm not only proud that you attempted the run, but that you had the courage to stop when your body really needed you to. You've accomplished so much in that race, mentally and physically! I look up to you <3



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