I was thinking about it this morning and aside from a 5-miler that I was registered for before swapping to the 5K option mid-race, I’ve never DNF’ed (did-not-finish) a race before. See where this is going?
I DNF’ed the club fun run last night and even though it was for good reason and yadda-yadda-yadda, I’m feeling a little down on myself about it, which took me by surprise!
As you know, run club fun runs are my favorite Tuesday night ritual and bringing Henry along in his stroller is something I looked forward to all winter, after he “ran” with me all last summer. Last week we went out for our first go and did pretty well. With no idea what to expect for our first time running with the stroller in a crowd, 8:33s were pretty darn satisfying. Of course, that meant I wanted to beat 8:33s the next time around.
We arrived to the fun run pretty early and chatted and hung out until race time at 7:00. Of course, right at 7:00 the skies looked pretty terrible and I debated whether or not we should start. I had heard there might be passing storms in the evening, but our route looked like it was on the outer edge of the nasty stuff and the radar wasn’t showing rain at all. The whole group went off while I still stood and debated, finally getting going just a little bit behind.
The first stretch is flat before climbing uphill to the one mile mark. I ran with the stroller out in the road, marking my territory for passing cars and working to stay out of other runners’ way. I went out fairly quick, wanting to catch the group. We charged up the first hill and I was shocked to hear the first mile clock in at 7:57. Holy hell! I didn’t realize I was capable of a sub-8:00 mile with the stroller, especially since I only just started clocking sub-8:00 training runs on my own!
The next mile was downhill, but I stuck to the sidewalk and took it a little easier, chatting with my friend Gina and other runners, and unwilling to be a jerk pushing anyone aside for Henry’s chariot, especially knowing the next mile was all uphill where we’d likely be eclipsed anyhow.
All night the sky looked pretty eerie and on the cusp of a storm, but as we made the turn near the two mile mark, I was pretty sure we were in for it. Big, fat drops started falling first, but we kept at it. A really thoughtful volunteer drove past a little while later, shouting you guys okay? out the window and asking if we wanted a ride. Henry was still happy, kicking his chubby feet and pushing his blanket off, so I waved him on. Our second mile registered at 8:00 pace exactly. Whew.
Almost as soon as the volunteer’s car had passed, it. came. down. Bad mother. Bad mother. Bad mother. I kept thinking to myself, seeing cars and trucks drive by and imagining their thoughts. I stopped to check on Henry and tuck him in, but he was smiling and kicking away, maybe even enjoying the rain and at least partially shielded by the visor. I started to run again and he immediately kicked off the blanket, wiggling his toes in the rain.
The wind and rain persisted, as did my negative thoughts, feeling badass for me, but also a little bit reckless for him. Henry babbled away, kicking at his blanket and shaking his rattle. At the very top of the hill, just before making the break for the finish, he started fussing. Even though I knew he was probably bored, and not uncomfortable, I knew I couldn’t finish. Running in the rain was one thing, but running in the rain with a wailing infant was another and I couldn’t do it, for perception as much as for his tears.
I took H out of the stroller and perched him on my hip, which immediately stopped his tears. He plopped his head on my shoulder and stuck his finger and thumb is his mouth, content. I thought about turning back out of the shortcut and walking it in, but know better than silly heroics and reminded myself its a fun run, not a race. Even as it was, Al, the race planner, teased me when we arrived back. The police are on their way, he told me. You’re being cited for child abuse! Knowing his humor and personality, I knew he didn’t mean it, but it stung a little. I’m a good mom, I thought to myself, trying to reassure myself that the happy kid on my hip didn’t mind a little rain. He was warm, he was comfortable. He giggled through it until he recognized he was bored and up past bedtime.
We didn’t hang out after, heading right home to warm up and get to bed. Upon arriving home, I filled the bathtub with good, hot water and a giant squeeze of bubbles. I pulled on my swim suit and hopped in next to H, splashing and blowing bubbles together until I felt better myself and we were both warm and sleepy.
It wasn’t the run I’d planned on, but it was good enough. 2.98 miles, 25:00, 8:23 pace.