08 October 2013

That Other Time I DNS'd

Well this is embarrassing. It's been way too long. I have excuses, good ones even! I moved again, I had no internet, I had another MS relapse, and I was overwhelmed. Like, massively. But as of today I have internet again, I am healthy again, and the boxes are mostly unpacked. I finally feel almost settled. Life is good. If I'd written last week it would have been all whiny. Now I can just sound all tough and shit.

Two weekends ago, I was supposed to run my first trail race. It wasn't exactly my first trail race, it was kind of my first-second trail race. My second-first trail race? Let me explain. Two years ago, about six months after I started running, I registered for my first trail race, a half marathon in Massachusetts. About a month before the race, I got injured -- the original posterior tib tendon injury that I ran through for so long that I did permanent damage and the stupid thing is still weak to this day, but I digress. On the heels of that injury I had a little mini MS relapse, which was my first experience going partially blind. That was a trip. Whenever I have a relapse I always tell myself that it will go away, that I will heal, and I really do my best to believe that and not to freak out, but it's pretty hard to believe that things will miraculously go back to normal in a few weeks when you can't see or walk or breathe normally. Or count to ten, that was a fun one. Good times!

It was funny actually; the blindness came on suddenly, around 3:30am one morning when I woke up to drive Sean to the start of his first ultra. I suddenly couldn't see out of my right eye, and I had to drive him and Maple about 10 miles in the dark on winding country roads in Vermont, and then back to our hotel. That sounds badass right? I'm so tough. Actually I'm pretty sure there was a fair amount of blubbering and panicking that I was going to go completely blind while driving and kill all of us, but yeah, I didn't.

The relapse didn't get worse, and a few weeks later I could see almost normally again. To this day when I look at a white wall, it looks grey on the right side, but it's not that big of a deal really, I'm just complaining cause it's my blog and I can do that. So I DNS'd my first trail race two years ago when it sounded like a stupid idea to race while half blind and exhausted with MS fatigue. I'm such a wimp.

Fast forward two years and I was all excited to run my first-second (second-first) trail race. It was just a local 5k, but I was excited to live up to my idea of myself as a real trail-running badass, even though the trails were well groomed and it was only three measly miles. But come on, I have tattoos! I shaved my head once! Right? And then I woke up the morning before the race with half-numb feet. MS can affect sensations in your body, especially your extremities, so I wasn't really shocked by these symptoms. I've been so so SO stressed out over this move, and the new job, and the new house, and stress is not really a friend of MS. Another little relapse was not surprising. I'm just lucky the relapses are little! Major relapses don't really go with my outfit. Anyway, by 5 a.m. on race day my feet were more like completely-numb, and I started thinking it was a stupid idea to go run a trail race on them, no matter how short it was or how well-groomed the trails were. Even though I tweeted this the night before:

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 7.27.13 PM

Right after I tweeted this, some very nice person tweeted back that I was an inspiration, and I thought, that's really sweet but no, I'm not an inspiration. I'm a fucking moron. I need to rest. And so I did. As it turns out, I am not a badass, because I DNS'd. Did Not Start. ed. But I did lay in bed (and okay I unpacked a little) and thought about how much cooler it would be if I took care of myself and ate well and didn't spend all my waking hours in a stress-induced shit fit over my brand new house (hello, first world problems!).

Ever since then I've been planning for my future life as a healthy person. I've been meditating, eating better, resting more, and running less. It sucks to be (once again) building back up to 10 miles a week, but it's better than being you know, sick or dead or something. I am feeling much MUCH fucking better. My feet are normal again and even better, I might just have my priorities in order. I might not run a half marathon this fall, or if I do run it, it will be more "for fun" and less "for a PR". In fact I think I'm going to do a whole bunch of races for fun instead of PRs. I am going to celebrate the fact that I can run at all, and forget about the almighty clock for a while.

It's a good idea, right?


  1. Yes! Please do take care of yourself. (And I'm sorry you had an episode.)

  2. I think I'm supposed to counsel you against negative self-talk, but instead I just laughed at "I'm not an inspiration. I'm a fucking moron." You should wear that shirt to your next race/fun run.

  3. Hi Lissa! So glad to hear from you! I love that you called it an episode which makes me feel like I'm in a Tennessee Williams play. Love it! :) I'll just be here relaxing in my settee with my hand on my forehead...

  4. Hi Kat! That would be a great shirt! And so perfect for me...

  5. You are REAL and honest and THAT is inspiring!!! Good for you for taking care of yourself. And I say YES to run some races for fun! That's what I've decided to do for awhile too. Having a good feeling race is worth so much more to me than the clock time (nt that I'll poo poo a PR ;) My friend recently told me about seeing a man who looked to be in his 80s shuffling along after she had already finished her half marathon. Her uncle commented saying he was glad he wasn't that guy! Funny thing is... I hope I AM that guy! I hope to be running marathons in my 80s, which means taking good care all along the way. Oh, and turns out that guy shuffling along was on his way to finishing his 430something marathon! Crazy cool, right?!

  6. Hi Portia,
    You are an inspiration- not for what you tough out, but for when you advocate for yourself against your own (and projected) expectations... does that make sense? What I'm trying to say is- first world problems aside- thanks for modeling true, authentic listening to your body and your own needs. Running will be there- always! How you approach it is a healthy representation that we can all take a page from. Namaste~

  7. The only thing I'll argue with here is this tiny portion: "As it turns out, I am not a badass, because I DNS'd."
    Being really badass means making the right decision, even when it's the hard one. It means have restraint to NOT do something when your heart says yes but your body says no. It means recognizing that there are times to tell your body to "shove it", you're plowing through - and times to be gentle with and good to yourself. It means acknowledging that a DNS doesn't define you, and that there are some races that are better NOT to run.
    Congrats on the wise decision! Glad you are taking care of yourself. Enjoy that "for fun" race!!

  8. That is amazing. I hope to be running when I'm 80 as well! Now maybe if we can both get to one of the same "run for fun" races... :)

  9. This may be my favorite blog comment ever. :) Thank you for reading and sharing your support. I hope your training is going well!

  10. Holly! Thanks for saying this. You're right, and I would think it was badass if someone else made this decision. Now I have to work on telling my body to "shove it" when things get rough in the middle of a race.
    I registered for a "fun" race already - the Mustache Dache in Seattle in November (Movember?). I plan to try NOT to PR.

  11. There you go -- have a mint julep and wait for it to pass. ;)