I did not finish.
I DID NOT finish.
I DID NOT FINISH.
Man, that’s a tough pill to swallow. I was super emotional about it right after it happened, but tried to suck it up… After all we were at Disney! Then I would remember that moment I knew I wasn’t going to cross that finish line and my heart would sink.
Looking back I can see there were several practical lessons to learn from my DNF. I want to share those with you in case you are thinking about doing a marathon, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
- Conquer smaller distances first. I know, this one may seem like the logical thing to do; it is. Looking back, I should have done it. Before I signed up to run the marathon I hadn’t run in an actual race. I ran a 10k back in my internship days, but it was just around campus and not a true race experience. In the first few weeks of my training I ran a small local 5k, but that was nothing like the huge race experience that Disney is. I should have run a half-marathon or even a 10k. Not only is knowing how the flow of a larger race important, it is also a great confidence builder!
- Track your mileage accurately. For all of my training I used Nike+ with the shoe pod. The problem was it would never calibrate properly. So for every mile I thought I was running, I was really only running .90ish miles. Which adds up during long training runs. It also gives you false hope of a decent pace, so my estimated time was WAY off. I have since invested in a Garmin, which is way more accurate… but some times depressing when you realize how slow you’re really going… but I digress…
- Race in the Environment that You Trained in (At least for your first). While I started my training in the summer, I did the bulk of my mileage in the fall/winter. The temps I was used to training in were in the 30s and 40s. On race day the temps got in the upper 70s, probably at least 80. This is probably by far the biggest problem I ran into. My body hadn’t seen temperatures that high in months, let alone run in them! It made me (even) slower than I already was! If you are planning on running a big race for the first time at least make sure the race temperatures will be relatively similar to those that you trained in to ensure success.
- Plan for bathroom stops (or not). I know that I could have finished had I been allowed to. It wouldn’t have been fast or pretty, but I would have finished. And the difference between them letting me finish and making me stop was literally 10 seconds or less. They were letting people complete the race once they passed the on ramp that I got stopped at, even if they were slow beyond that point. I’ve thought about this time and again and if I could have a do over of just race day with my same training I would simply pee on myself. I stopped at Miles 3, 11 and 18. Each stop was probably at least 5 minutes. That’s a 15 minute difference. Thats a whole mile at the pace I was going. I should have just peed on myself…
While having a DNF (did not finish) on record isn’t what any runner wants, it’s better than a DNS (did not start). I learned a lot about myself and turned my negative into a positive. Now I’m more determined then ever to get into shape and sometime before I’m 30 I will return to Disney to redeem myself. Not only do I want to finish the Disney Marathon, but I want to one up it and do the Goofy Challenge (Where you run the Half-Marathon Saturday and Full on Sunday). I tend to overcorrect, haha.
Have you ever had the opportunity to turn a “failure” into a lesson learned? Tell me about it!