I should preface this by saying I understand that what I’m about to write is some serious “first world problem”, privileged bullshit to most people. I understand that my personal crisis pales in comparison to many things happening around the world right now. I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is not that big of a deal. That being said, this is my personal journal, and I think that I will want to have this to look back on some day.
Remember that time I trained for the Twin Cities Marathon and then didn’t get to run it? Yeah, about that…
Turns out there’s a running term for it, because of course there is. It’s DNS, or Did Not Start. Which is a close cousin of the DNF, or Did Not Finish, which is certainly what would have happened if I had attempted to run the marathon after both Dan and I were struck with Otto’s stomach bug within an hour or so of landing in Minneapolis. A co-worker helped me out with the term for what we had: diabarfarrhea. That’s when your guts liquefy and violently propel themselves out of your body using any and all available exits.
It was miserable. What’s a more intense word for miserable? Wretched. Pathetic. Woeful. We were staying in the Aloft hotel downtown, which has small, studio-style, modern rooms featuring a pocket bathroom door that doesn’t even close all the way, and a toilet area with no fart fan. The bed was right up against the “bathroom”, and there was no escaping the noise and chaos of what was happening to us. We just took turns dragging ourselves from the bed to the bathroom all night/morning long. We were powerless to stop it. Diabarfarrhea 2017 kicked off Friday afternoon, and since the race wasn’t until Sunday morning, I was clinging desperately to this little glimmer of hope that the bug would be quick and I would still be able to go to the race expo late Saturday, pick up my bib, and be ready to run on Sunday.
HA! I was delusional. A marathon is daunting under the very BEST of conditions, and there was just no way that I could hydrate/fuel myself back up to where I needed to be to run. A text from my friend Allison sealed the deal when she shared that her ultra-fit husband (who has run like 100 marathons) once tried to run a marathon a few days after having a stomach bug and had to leave the course by ambulance at mile 17 because his body ran out of fuel and he couldn’t continue. Yeah, I’m not anywhere near the athlete that her husband is, so I tried to accept my fate and the DNS.
Saturday morning/afternoon Dan went on a pilgrimage for fluids and eventually we got out of the room and walked across the street for a bit. I was winded and needed a nap. But I also desperately needed clean sheets and towels, so I practically begged the guy at the front desk to get housekeeping to come to our room first instead of the rooms that were checking out that day, as is their standard procedure. We couldn’t stay awake long enough for the season premier of Saturday Night Live. We watched Pitch Perfect 2 on FX, complete with commercials and not in HD, and called it a night. Sunday morning was cool and crisp, pretty perfect running weather to start. Every local news station was covering the marathon. Our backs were aching from spending so much time in bed. We walked to get coffee, which I could barely drink, and I continued sulking and generally feeling like a pathetic pile of crap. It did get progressively more windy as the morning wore on and eventually a cold, pouring rain started, so it would have been a pretty tough race to finish.
We ended up going to the Vikings game in the new stadium a couple blocks from our hotel. I’m really glad we did that (even though I just wanted to stay inside and sulk), as it was the only thing we got to experience outside of our sick room that whole weekend. I own 37 purple shirts and somehow managed not to pack a single one. So that just annoyed me too. Sunday afternoon worked out much better for Dan, who was sitting in great seats, all cozy inside a gorgeous football stadium instead of standing out in the cold rain somewhere in St. Paul waiting for me to finish a marathon. The Vikings ended up losing (shocker). And we got to see Ahmad Rashad get added to the Ring of Honor in a special ceremony. I couldn’t eat ballpark food or drink beer, so it was still kind of a bummer.
Dan was stuck with miserable Tiff for quite awhile. It took well into the next week before I felt 100% physically and perhaps I’m still not 100% emotionally. The final kick in the gut was having to come back and explain to class after class of inquiring sophomores how my marathon went. And while I obviously couldn’t help it, it was still embarrassing to admit that I didn’t get to run it. They had to have a substitute for 2 days for nothing.
It was such a waste. A waste of money (flights, 3 nights in a hotel, race registration, etc.). A waste of time. A waste of all that miserable training. I’m still having a hard time shaking it. I know I’ll bounce back, and yes, there is a lesson here somewhere, but I’m still kind of bitter about the whole ordeal. Some people are asking if I can just sign up for some other race, and it doesn’t exactly work that way, at least not for me. Because of tapering, my last long run was back on September 9. Since then I haven’t run many long runs, and then the sickness just wiped me out for over a week and set me back to what feels like zero. I did 6 and 7 mile runs the last couple of weekends and felt ok. I’ve still been doing 4-5 before work a few days during the week, and I could probably do a 10 mile run, but certainly not a marathon.
Today, in an attempt to get out of my funk, I volunteered as a course monitor at the Kansas City Marathon.
I had a lot of fun cheering my head off and making people chuckle with my sidewalk chalking and signs. I was between miles 17 and 18. Today did not convince me to run the KC Marathon though. I’ve only ever done the half, which must have many more participants than the full. It gets pretty lonely and desolate out there on the marathon course. From the leaders to the back of the pack, it was not unusual to have lone runners for blocks at a time. There were virtually no spectators in the residential area where I was stationed, which was annoying/disappointing to me because it was a beautiful fall morning. C’mon rich people! You live on the marathon course. Drag a chair over to the curb, drink your coffee and cheer a little. I blasted music from my Rav and did my best to keep my energy consistent.
Side note: The KC Marathon does something terrible at the end of the race. If you’re the last person, not only is a police car slowly following you (pretty normal), but you are also being followed by 3 street sweepers, some kind of water truck, AND 2 dump trucks. Like huge, loud, city vehicles crawling along behind you at 5 mph as you walk along trying to finish your race. I thought for a minute they may all be trying to get to a construction site as the roads were opening back up, but no. They were on the heels of the last marathoner, ready to literally sweep him off the road. And it was only mile 17!! I get that they need to clean up the course, but could they not hang back a bit? Like give a guy a block or so so you’re not breathing down his neck with your truck rumblings and squeaky brakes?!? He couldn’t even hear the people cheering for him over the noise of the heavy machinery. I was so sad for him.
I did sign up for another race, not a full, but the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon on March 3rd. Maybe that will get me into some kind of spring marathon mode, but I’m not so sure. My past experience is that spring marathons = constant rainy long runs. Not my favorite. But we’ll see. I’ve also registered to be a Holiday Streaker, which means I will be engaging in at least 15 minutes of intentional exercise every day from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. (If you miss a day, you have to do 50 burpees, which would take me most of a day to do, so I will not be missing a day.) For $25 you get a fun shirt, most of your money goes to help needy families, and you can track your progress and keep tabs on your friends/co-workers. If you’d like to join, check them out: holidaystreakers.com