Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My DNF story

This post is a response to Christina's  Running Challenge question:  Have you had a DNF?

Go read her hilarious DNF story; here's my DNF story.

This is from March, 2007:

Last week I traveled to Los Angeles for the 22nd running of the Los Angeles Marathon; I was looking forward to my ninth marathon and a visit with my family (as I am originally from Southern California).

I knew I was in trouble when my plane landed on Thursday and it was 70 degrees at 11:30 a.m. The forecast for marathon day was 78 degrees. My sister greeted me at the airport and I immediately expressed my concern over the temperature. My concern over the temperature caught her completely by surprise as I am a sun and heat loving gal!

I spent Friday at the Expo, choosing to travel on the “Blue Line” from Long Beach; the Metro system is really quite good now in Los Angeles. I knew that I would be using the train on the morning of the marathon so I wanted to get an idea of what to expect so I wouldn’t have any surprises on marathon morning. The Expo was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center and seemed to be well organized. I picked up my “goodie” bag and made my way through the various exhibitors at the Expo. I was a bit disappointed in the t-shirt; it was a very simple cotton t-shirt and the marathon participants received the same t-shirt as the volunteers.

I eagerly looked forward to Sunday morning as I felt well prepared for the race (in spite of my concern about the temperature). I boarded the train at 5:00 a.m. to begin my trip to Universal Studios, which was were the race began. This year brought a new point to point course for the marathon, with a new start. I arrived at 6:30 a.m. which was nearly 2 hours before race time. There were approximately 25,000 participants in the marathon; and low and behold, I ended up in the corral and met a very nice gentleman from Tigard. We chatted as we waited for the race to begin.

The race began with a 1.25 mile uphill climb; followed by a nice 5 mile fairly gradual downhill. The course took us through some very interesting areas of Los Angeles and showed us the variety that is associated with LA. The rest of the course was not terribly difficult, they billed it as a “flat, fast course”.

I broke cardinal rule #1 of marathoning “NO NEW IS GOOD NEW” as I brought my iPod with me for the race. I had traveled to LA by myself for this race as Vicki, my usual running partner, was unable to join me; so I thought I would try out the iPod for some virtual company. I have used my iPod only sporadically and only when I run on the treadmill. Needless to say that by about mile 5 I was feeling a slight irritation on my arm and took the iPod off before I encountered any significant chafing, etc. Of course, this meant that I had to carry it with me.

I was wearing my heart rate monitor and my heart rate was higher than I hoped. I felt pretty good at this point, so I let that go. I stopped at every aid station and had either water or Gatorade. I wanted to make sure that I was properly hydrated.

My sister and nephew were scheduled to meet me at mile 13 where my nephew was going to run with me for approximately 6 miles. I encountered them at about mile 12-1/2 and when my sister saw me her first words were “Are you o.k.?” At this point I didn’t feel that good or that bad; but I guess I didn’t look very good. I said I was o.k. but that this was definitely not a PR race and that I would be happy just to finish. My nephew and I took off, the plan was that he would run with me to mile about 19 and my other nephew (they are 14 year old twins) would run with me from mile 19 to about mile 26. To make a long story short, we walked a lot during this 6 mile stretch as I just felt terrible. I was very warm, even walking I was having trouble keeping my heart rate in a semi safe zone and almost more concerning was that I wasn’t sweating very much. At about mile 18 I asked my nephew to call his folks and let them know that when we met at mile 19 I was going to stop. I didn’t know if this affected their plans logistically so I wanted to give them a heads up. However, he got voice mail and they never received the message so when they saw they had no idea. The high temperature that day ended up somewhere between 81 and 83 (depending on which newscast you watched).

The crowd support was less than I expected for a major city; there were a number of points (along the 19 miles I completed) that there were very few, if any, people cheering the runners on. The entertainment throughout the course was pretty good though.

My ego is somewhat bruised, but I decided that the potential negative consequences associated with continuing under these circumstances were just not worth it; I listened to my body and I’m glad I did.


  1. What a fun blog! I think we are of similar ages with BIG, grown up kids and you are going to run the Boston Marathon one day and I'm off for #3 shortly. Guess what? I also ran my first 50k in the fall...so we have a lot in common!
    I enjoyed the report on the LA Marathon, sorry it was so hot! There will be more!
    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  2. I've never had to run a race when its gotten hot like that. The heat takes so much out of you. Each summer my confidence drops because my ability to run well drops considerably. Thanks for sharing your DNF.