My Very First DNF & Why I’m Proud Of It

This past weekend I went to Los Angeles with three objectives: have a fun weekend with my friend Stephanie, watch the Olympic marathon trials (live), and run the LA Marathon. Two and a half of those goals were achieved, but I’m still calling it a win all the way around.

Two days before I was supposed to leave for LA, I caught a virus that my youngest son had a few days prior. It mostly felt like a cold – typical sinus pressure, sore throat, and a little achy all over. I spent those two days taking vitamins, drinking green juice, taking wheatgrass shots, and doing everything I could think of to make it go away. By the time I left I was feeling a little better, but nowhere near healthy. But I wasn’t going to let it stop me from a weekend of fun with my friend who I haven’t seen in a year and a half!

First up was the Olympic trials. It was such an amazing experience to get to watch this race in person! The course was made up of two small loops and 4 larger loops, and if you stood in one section near the start and finish lines, you could see the runners pass 6 times. This is where we stood, so we got to see them start, then 4 times during the race, and then cross the finish line. It was an exciting race and so much fun to cheer!

Ready to cheer!

Ready to cheer!

Kara Goucher heading to the warm-up area with a cooling vest on

Kara Goucher heading to the warm-up area with a cooling vest on

Gelen Rupp headed to the warm-up area

Gelen Rupp headed to the warm-up area

Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg headed to the warm-up area

Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg headed to the warm-up area

Mens' Start

Mens’ Start

Women's start

Women’s start

Meb heading to the finish line

Meb heading to the finish line

Three women winners heading into the finish

Three women winners heading into the finish

Sunday morning started bright and early with a 4 am wake-up so that we could eat and have coffee before catching the shuttle to Dodger Stadium for the start of the LA marathon. I hadn’t slept well because the sinus pressure and inability to breathe through my nose had me tossing and turning all night, so when I woke up that morning, I felt less than stellar. But I wanted to run anyway, knowing very well that I could drop out at any point if things got bad. Giving myself an out took any stress I had away and I think this was the most calm I’ve ever been before a race. Not once did I feel nervous or anxious. I wasn’t in for a PR or even to finish in a certain time. I was simply there to have fun and run a race that I’d never run before in a city that I hadn’t really seen before (except from a car on the freeway).

At Dodger Stadium before the start of the race

At Dodger Stadium before the start of the race

Once the race started, I told myself to take it one mile at a time. I wasn’t ever thinking of the bigger 26.2-mile picture – it was always just one step at a time. Starting off I felt pretty descent, but after only a few miles I felt myself going downhill pretty fast. My body started to get achy (not like running achy, but sickness achy) and I could feel my throat getting irritated, like a coughing attack was bound to happen at any moment. So I slowed down and took walk breaks every few minutes. Then when even that felt bad, I told myself to just walk until I didn’t want to anymore. I wanted to see as much of the course as I could since it went by some of the major landmarks of the city. It was great timing because by this point I was on Hollywood Boulevard and got to walk past Mann’s Chinese Theater, the Walk of Fame, and The Jimmy Kimmel Studios where they were filming a segment for the show (I passed by right when they took cupid flying through the runners, and this seriously cheered me up). So it was great that I got to take my time and enjoy the sites as I passed.

Soon after mile 12 when we turned onto Sunset Boulevard, however, I decided that I’d had enough. I felt like complete crap and I had nothing to prove by continuing on. So I found a medical tent and the very nice Fire Chief there called for a shuttle to come pick me up and take me to the finish line. I had to wait for quite a while (but I got to cheer for the runners and talk to the nice firemen while I waited) and then once the shuttle arrived it took forever to get to the finish line because we had to pick up more people and then fight traffic. I ended up getting to the finish at Santa Monica Pier after my friend Stephanie finished the race (I was really hoping to get there in time to cheer her across the finish line), and then we eventually made our way to the shuttles to get back downtown where we were staying.

Even though I didn’t finish the marathon, I have to say that I’m proud of myself anyway. I’m proud that I knew when to quit, proud that I didn’t put my pride before my health, and proud that I’ve finally grown up and learned that there is nothing wrong with admitting defeat and throwing in the towel. It’s just a run, and there will be many more in my future. Maybe one day I’ll make it back to LA to finish the marathon, but for right now it’s time to get healthy and back to training. Up next: St. George Ironman 70.3!

2 Responses to “My Very First DNF & Why I’m Proud Of It”

  1. Beckie February 17, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

    AWE….what a great time you must have had-Smart running, smart girl!!

  2. erin March 7, 2016 at 8:07 am #

    Good for your for listening to your body, Ashley! The hardest thing to do sometimes, but always the smartest. Hope you’re back to 100 percent and that St. George training is going well!

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