It’s been more than 24 hours since I quit. It’s my first quit. It’s the big DNF where there should be a race report. I’m mad at myself for quitting. I’m mad that I didn’t shake off the ankle turn, have a sip of water, buck up, and keep going. I didn’t do any of those things. I stopped. I stood still, I turned around a few times. My ankle hurt. I didn’t feel like fighting it. I imagined Christine’s voice in my head “keep going, it will feel fine”. And then I hit stop on the garmin. I was done. I turned around. I walked back to where the last volunteers had been. I limped. It hurt. Not anywhere close to the most pain I’ve been in, all those times when I got up, shook it off, walked for a minute, and then kept running. But I didn’t keep running. I asked the fastest way to get back to the start/finish. I refused offers of help. It hurt.
Halfway back to the start / finish, I took off my bib. I didn’t want to be confused with the racers. I didn’t want to wear the badge I felt I no longer deserved. It hurt. I was mad at myself for quitting. I was mad because I really like the shirt, and now, I’m not sure if I’ll ever wear it.
By the time I got back to the start/finish, my limp had decreased. Exactly as imaginary Christine said it would. I just needed to walk it out. A fleeting thought of ” I’ll just go back, and run the 5 miles”. Stubborn. Brain and brain were fighting. Brain and pride, more like it. or pride and pride.
Ian approached me in the field. I was a mess. I was hurt, mentally now, not physically. He said the right things, in what I imagine now was probably the last kind of conversation he thought he’d a) ever have with me, and b) have that day, at a 5 mile race. He said “it wasn’t my day”. I guess it wasn’t. I thought back to before the race – no nerves, no dread, no fear. But not a lot of excitement either. I was calling it in, and apparently, I dialed a wrong number.
I’ve been running and racing more this year than ever before. I’m teaching myself the difference between running and racing. I’m challenging myself to race instead of run. To push to uncomfortable when the gun goes off. It wasn’t my day.
I know the next steps. I need to ice my ankle, and ice my pride. Admit that it’s ok to stop sometimes. It’s ok to listen to what your body is saying. I need to go back to the race course, and run those 5 miles, maybe twice in a row. I need to say thank you to all the friends who drifted over to me after their finishes, to check if I was ok, and to Ian for the right words, and Scout and Squirrel for the understanding looks, and Emma for the support, and George and Ann for the hugs, and Sara, Mary, Christine and Kate for getting it, and then forgetting it.
Ended up sitting in the grass, taking pictures of all the racers as they came up the last hill, shouting encouraging words, and making a new friend. That doesn’t sound like a bad day at the races, after all.