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DNF. Fifties for Yo Momma – May 2012

It was bound to happen at some point. I have been quite proud of never quitting during a race despite how ugly it got, but today was a day I knew I shouldn’t be stubborn. In retrospect, I should have made this a DNS – my hip and hamstring were aggravated continually the past month and I had taken multiple days off from running in an attempt to relieve the pain. I had a particularly bad flare up this past week, so I should have just driven down with my buddy Kevin, cheered him on, and found a way to help out at the race.

The race is at Hargus Lake near Circleville, OH. The race consists of multiple laps on the trails around the lake – it is a very runnable course, but there are enough roots, rocks, and hills (and stairs) to keep it interesting. I really like the relaxed vibe of the race, so I decided to run a few laps and see what happened… Rob, the race director, revised the course somewhat from last year so each lap was just over 5 miles (last year each lap was closer to 3.5 miles).

The leaders quickly took off, and I happily let them go. I knew I was not in the same shape I had been last year, and my focus was going to be on enjoying the day as long as I could. And it was a damn fine day – sunny, mild temperatures, great trail conditions. Once we were in the woods, I really wanted to just let the moment take me – get into that early race meditative state and think some good thoughts. But it wasn’t happening. I had not managed to get my hips properly aligned despite my best efforts during the week. My legs felt heavy. My breathing was all wrong. I cruised through the first lap in 55 minutes, the second lap in 57 minutes. The pace was right where I wanted to be – I was aiming for a 10:30 finish so I wouldn’t kill myself if I was able to keep running – but nothing felt quite right.

The third lap was a whole other experience. My hip stopped hurting. My stride felt like it had some pop in it. I was humming along, truly enjoying my day in the woods. Unfortunately, that feeling lasted just long enough to finish up that third lap (58 minutes) and venture out on my fourth… The hip really started hurting. My stride was all wrong – I felt like I was swinging my left leg through its stride instead of powering it forward. I was still moving just fine, and all other systems were good, but I couldn’t imagine six more laps with my leg this wonky. Plus, it was a beautiful day, and I had no obligations besides driving Kevin home once he finished. So I finished out the fourth lap (still under an hour – 59 minutes) and got some food. I took a short nap. I cheered on the runners as they passed. I chatted with folks. All in all I had a grand time. I was disappointed that I didn’t finish the race, but I knew I was making the right decision.

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