me walking

Today’s training log was supposed to an exciting log about how I ran the Big Cottonwood Marathon…but I never made it there.

Admittedly, I chose not to go and I chose not to start the race. It was a conversation I had in my head weighing both the pros and the cons. I’m sure the events would have played out differently for many but at the end of the day, it wasn’t worth it to me to start a race when the risk of a more serious injury was high.

It isn’t my first DNS, and it probably won’t be last. On the day my flight was supposed to leave, I could barely walk. Traveling was a literal pain in the ass. Sitting for long periods…hurt, walking…hurt. Running last Wednesday was laughable. In fact, today, Monday, after a week of not running, it’s laughable (but moving in the right direction).

So what led me to a DNS?

I ran a few short runs after the 18.12 mile challenge with no issues. I felt fine. My gait felt fine. I felt fine. Nothing in my running life would lead me to believe I wouldn’t run my marathon. Somewhere around 7-10 days out from my marathon, my hamstring and butt started to hurt. Not just a phantom taper pain hurt, but something was wrong. I delayed saying anything, hoping it would be a quick fix. Truthfully, I also didn’t want unsolicited internet advice about it would be fine and it was just “taper pain”. It wasn’t me exaggerating; I was in pain.

Dr. Craig from Dr. Kemenosh worked on my legs and butt the last few days using active release. I was also able to make an appointment with Dr. Lisko.

There just wasn’t the time to get me back to running a marathon. I could have probably run. I might have been able to run the entire marathon, but there was a greater chance I would have to stop and walk due to my hamstring. There was also a chance, 26.2 miles of downhill running would lead to a torn hamstring. I knew the chance of me leaving the race, having not finished, something torn, or limping, was far greater than me finishing healthy.

What’s the point? Why put myself through 26.2 miles of pain? The marathon would be miserable, I wouldn’t run well, and I would take longer to recover. I would be out for months. So while the weekend wasn’t “the best ever”, I don’t have any regrets about skipping the marathon.

When I decided to forgo the Big Cottonwood Marathon, the race I spent 16 weeks training for, I didn’t take it lightly. It’s hard not to show up. To not feel like a failure.

Throughout my running and especially in my early twenties, I’ve been injured multiple times with many different injuries. This is the closest I’ve come to being injured race day without it happening during a race. (I broke my tibia during the Allen Stone-Run-Swim-Run in 2011).

The older I get, the more I realize running isn’t everything and never will be. I’m a big proponent of having other hobbies. Other hobbies that don’t relate to running or your “central hobby.”

If all you do is eat, breath, sleep, running, and suddenly it’s taken away from you, you have nothing. The same can be said about anything. If all you do is eat, breath, sleep, sewing…and it’s taken away from you, you have nothing. (and no, social media doesn’t count).

That is why you see more and more professional athletes having other hobbies. Steph Bruce and Lauren Fleshman make Picky Bars. Des Linden brews coffee. You need an outside hobby that doesn’t have you mindlessly scrolling social media, comparing and wishing it was you.

Last Wednesday was my final decision day, and when it came, my decision was easy. It was a no. An easy no. Not a tearful no. Just a no. A not worth it to go no. A do what’s best for me, no.

It’s funny, because I haven’t cried people have mistaken that as “not caring”. I am sad I didn’t race but I know it’s not the end of the world. There are more important issues in the world than not running a marathon.  Do I feel like I wasted the summer training? Not really, I would have still run. I wouldn’t have done 15+ mile long runs, but I would have still run.

After coming to terms with it, my day went on. I felt like I was in a fog, but I had other things to keep me busy.

By the time I knew it, I went to bed and moved on. Thursday and Friday were challenging, and my phone notified me I had missed my flight. I felt a quick sadness but moved on from that too. As the weekend progressed, I tried to stay busy. I went on a date with my husband and enjoyed a walk in Wissahickon.

Sometimes, you have to make hard decisions. Do I want to be injured for a couple of weeks or a couple of years? Would I feel satisfaction in running a 5-hour marathon, when two weeks ago I was in shape to run a 3:15?

So where does this leave me running wise?

I decided I would take two weeks completely off from running. That was my plan after the marathon anyway. Why not start it a week ago? I can walk with minimal to no pain, but the moment I try and run my right hamstring/glute says no. Sitting for long periods also hurts.

I’m still planning to take another week off from running and see where it takes me. If I’m 100% healthy with two weeks off, I’ll find something to salvage my season. (I’m not going to jump into high mileage again…). If I’m not 100% healthy with two weeks off, I’ll give it whatever time it needs to be 100% healthy. Plus, probably get an X-ray to cover my bases.

Thanks to everyone who has reached out, it does mean a lot.

Questions for you:

Have you ever DNS a race?

Has anyone else had hamstring issues?

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  1. So sorry you have this injury! My hamstring injury started June 6! I did ART and it did not do a thing for me and am doing dry needling which has helped but I am still not better. Have missed some races and have started back running but probably should not be running. I hope you heal quicker than I am. It is a pain in the BUTT! I would love to hear how you rehab from this. Any TIPS!!

    1. Oh no, sorry to hear Susan. I don’t have any advice, as mine isn’t better right now. Where are you getting dry needling done?

  2. My DNS’s were all due to oversleeping, getting confused about the date or time of the race or getting lost on my way there. I’ve even gotten lost on my way to races that I’ve done before.

    1. Oh no! I’ve overslept a few races but they’ve always been because I chose to sleep versus run. We once got lost going to a race in Gloucester City and ended up driving into Philly instead. LOL

  3. Ugh, the dreaded hamstring pain. I’ve literally had that pain in the hamstring/butt for 6+ years. It’s all due to weak glutes. When I consistently do strength training it goes away. When I get busy & slack on it, it comes back. It not fun. Hope you can get some relief fast!

    1. Oh no, sorry to hear you’ve dealt with it Jenny. I do need to work more on strength training.

  4. You did the right thing, listen to your body. Why do the race and risk serious injury? Someone said.. Life is about handling disappointment… hey there is always swimming and biking!

  5. Hi Hollie. Just getting caught up on your blog and saw this post. I’m so sorry to hear of your injury and that you were unable to run the marathon. But you did the right thing in putting emotion aside, carefully evaluating where you were at, and understanding that going to the marathon was not worth long term injury. I wish you the best in your recovery and hope you are back to normal soon! And know that the physical and mental benefits you gained from your training will help you with your next training cycle after you recover.

  6. I know you made the right choice. And I love your advice about having a diverse set of hobbies and interests.

    In 2018, I missed a charity walk that was very important to me. But I missed it because my cat Daisy had recently been diagnosed with diabetes, and I was just learning how to care for her.

    I know the feeling of missing the plane and seeing your friends celebrating an event that you’re not participating in. It’s hard. But do I regret my choice? Not for a minute! As it turns out, I only had a few more months left with my darling girl Daisy.

    You protected your body so that you can run in more events down the road. And, your training wasn’t wasted, because it made you that much stronger for future races!

    Thank you for sharing your story. It will help a lot of people to make those difficult choices.

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