the dnf that wasn't.

In the middle of a busy week of summer and in the middle of my training, I needed to kick it up a notch and make sure I was actually sticking to "the plan". Following my 15+miler the previous week I was supposed to scale back a few miles with a goal of 13. I thought there was no better way to assure that I'd actually get my butt on the road (and not revisit the epic brunch of the previous weekend) than to sign up for a half marathon. A quick 13.1 around a lake in the morning would get my long run checked off my list early Saturday, leaving the rest of the weekend to play. I ran a 10K on the same course last year, so in addition to logging a long run and working on my half marathon time, I knew I'd be getting a good hill workout too - bonus.

The race started and it was muggy and drizzling, not exactly ideal, but the rain let up and it was no longer humid, just super hot. Luckily the route was well equipped with water stations and I had my fantastic fanny pack fuel belt for sips in between stations.

I was cruising to take about 20 minutes off my PR from my previous half. Around mile 7, I stopped for a water break, took a sip and then started to run again. Well... tried to start running again. Instantly I felt electricity from my leg shooting up towards my torso. I took it as a sign, slowed to a walk and stretched a bit as I kept moving forward.

I was losing my (solidly in the middle) "spot" and other runners were beginning to pass me, so I ended my walk break and started to run. It wasn't so much of a run as a hop with one leg and drag the other. Not wanting to risk the marathon to injury, I knew it was time to quit and was okay with having "DNF" listed next to my name in the results. Luckily I was coming up on a water station, so I could stop and ask for a medic.

check this out for next year, Race Director

...Nope. The water station was there, but when I asked a volunteer for a medic or a car to take me to the finish I found out that there wasn't one. A medic or a car. [Sidebar: who the hell hosts a HALF MARATHON with no medic?? You shouldn't even have a 5K with no medic, but a half??]. After I asked to quit and realized I couldn't (short of taking a ride from a stranger on a quiet mountainous road around a lake), I wanted the race to be done as quickly as possible. So I got really good at the hop and drag method of moving my body forward with short interludes for walk breaks and pausing completely to unclench my jaw and wipe tears from my eyes.

As I was running/walking/wincing I was trying to diagnose myself. My ankle hurt and clearly wasn't working. I couldn't point my toes and extend my foot forward, nor could I flex my foot comfortably. Everything under the tendons on the outside of my ankle hurt. Every step felt like I was hitting bone on bone. I thought a sprain, but there wasn't any swelling and periodically the electric shock of pain would radiate from my ankle, something that didn't happen when I had previously sprained my ankle (doing yoga).

Before I knew it I had propelled myself to the water stop that marked mile 11. I stopped, began practicing what has to be equivalent to Lamaze breathing techniques and looked behind me. With 2 miles to go, if I kept up the 13-ish minute per mile pace I wouldn't finish last. So that was my last walk break and the final 2 miles were a countdown to the finish line with "it's going to be pretty embarrassing to see your name last on the results page - so move it" playing on repeat in my head.

Upon seeing my (smarter) runBFF at the finish line (she opted for the 10K), she instantly knew something was up based on my time alone. I told her the deal and she instantly ran to get a medic (I already told her there wasn't one on the course, but we thought they MUST have one at the finish) and some ice. Coming back alone and empty handed it was clear there was no medic and no ice. [Another sidebar: okay... no medic, ridiculous alone, but no medic and no ICE at the finish line???].  After a 15 minute wild goose chase for ice, I finally put some on my ankle and took my shoe off to wait for the swelling to begin. But it never did. It hurt, it was hot to the touch and I couldn't bear weight on it.

my finisher medal, because I wasn't allowed a DNF
Meandering back to the car to pop some ibprofin, people asked what happened (because who the hell would walk like that if they weren't hurt). I reported I had probably just rolled my ankle on gravel or something (not that I remember doing it) but wasn't sure as no one (qualified) was available to assess my injury. My fellow runners were also surprised to learn of the lack of medical care (take note for next year, fellow runners!) or even a first aid kit.

Oh! And the best part - I did not finish last (6th to last, but not last) and was only 3 minutes over my previous half marathon time. Win!