“You can come back next year.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“You’ll come back stronger.”
Those are just a handful of the words of advice I’ve heard over the past 6 months. Well meaning statements. Definitely statements that were meant to make me feel better. I’m not faulting anyone for saying them. I’d probably say the exact same thing. People are just trying to help. But really, it doesn’t. I’ve been carrying around an anger and sadness inside of me ever since I walked off the course in Boston and got my first DNF.
You’d think after 6 months, I’d be OK with everything. I am better than I was 5 months ago, 4 months ago, 2 months ago and even a month ago. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to retell the story quite a lot over the past few weeks, that it’s fresh in my mind right now. So consider this my Thinking Out Loud on Wednesday rather than Thursday. It’s not easy for me to share my feelings, so bear with me on this one.
A DNF is tough to take. Hopefully, it’s my one and only one and I’ll never have to go through this again. It’s hard to say to friends, family and strangers that my best just wasn’t enough. It’s hard to swallow the bitter pill after spending months training and talking nonstop about your goals for that one moment in time. It amplifies when it’s Boston and you have a running blog that’s attached to every social media outlet possible. Everyone knows that this was supposed to be THE race for me.
When the plan doesn’t go the way you had envisioned, well, you get angry.
My emotions range from anger to sadness. Feeling like a quitter. Feeling like a failure. Feeling lost. Feeling so not like myself. I know it’s just running, but c’mon – this was big. It’s not like I had a bad race and didn’t make my time goal. I didn’t even have a race. I walked off the course at mile freakin’ 8!
If that wasn’t horrible enough, I had to endure the horrible bus ride of shame to the finish line and then aimlessly wander the streets of Boston all while being congratulated for my great race, while I searched for my family. I didn’t want to talk about it. I was embarrassed and really didn’t want anyone to know what happened. Because of social media, it’s hard to not have everyone know exactly what you’re doing and what your goals are. It felt like others were expecting something from me, but the reality is, that the only person’s expectations I disappointed were my own. I still carry that around with me.
Maybe I would have gotten over it sooner if I had been able to get back to running rather than being on the sidelines. If I could have found another race of any distance, to erase the heartbreak I felt miles before Heartbreak Hill. But I couldn’t and I haven’t. Yet. I’m trying to use those memories from that shitty day to fuel my comeback. I’ve been told to just forget about that day. Move on. I’m trying but it’s hard. It’s a memory that will always be etched in my mind. I want to say my DNF does not define me but right now, I feel like it does. It’s part of my running history. It can hold me back or it can be another chapter in my book of running. The choice is mine but where do I go from here?
I know we aren’t meant to succeed all the time. Sometimes good is not good enough. Sometimes things just happen for no good explanation. Maybe I’ll know the reason one day. Until then, I’ll be waiting and trying my hardest to never have to go through a DNF again.