It started Saturday morning (the day before the race). I was standing, making breakfast for the kids when I threw up onto their plates and all over the counter (then I served them vomit for breakfast. Just kidding of course). This was not some sort of viral gastroenteritis; it was just nerves.
That night we met Justin and Jackie from La Crosse, WI for dinner. Justin had been moved up to elite status in the run because his wife happened to meet the elite athlete coordinator for the marathon in their hotel lobby. We had a great dinner at Pasta Basta, but every bite I ate the more my stomach bothered me. I tried to put it out of my mind. We walked back to Justin and Jackie's hotel and, whoa, there was Colleen De Reuck, who holds the US Female Masters Marathon record of 2:28. She already knew Justin so she got introduced to SR and me and we just started talking like old friends.
After the interlude with Colleen, I began vomiting again (we were out of her sight by that point). And then all night I was holding my stomach in pain. Stupid nerves. I ended up sleeping almost 6 hours, so that was fine. But then in the morning I started having diarrhea. And I was just too nervous and sick-feeling to eat and thus also forgot to drink. By the time I was standing by the 3:15 pacer balloons with a friend from our track club, I realized I was thirsty and hadn't peed in a long time. And I had no water with me. After the first km, I was so thirsty, I started considering steeling a sip out of a water bottle from someones water belt (but of course didn't). It was so extremely crowded that it was unpleasant. By the time we got to the first aid station, it was nearly impossible to get anything to drink, but eventually I did. And then sprinted back up to the 3:15 pacers. We went through the 5k in under 23 min., so I realized they were ahead of schedule and likely going for official 3:15 time and not chip time, which would be about a 3:13 time for those who started with them.
To make a long story short, I kept the 3:15 balloons in my sight through the half marathon, which I ran in 1:38. But every moment of the race was torture. I felt sick and dehydrated. I ate two of the gels and they tasted terrible. My music annoyed me. Other runners annoyed me. The running surface annoyed me. I was not having fun at all. I started to feel dizzy and very tired. My muscles were cramping and I didn't know if I could make it to the next aid station for fluid before I fainted. I ran mile 15 at over a 9 min/mile pace and there was no aid station in sight. I could not go on. I walked off the course and it was a huge relief. But then I leaned against a wall and started crying. It was also a huge disappointment. I guy who dropped out just ahead of me saw me and gave me a hug. He said his name was Hans Andersen and he was from Australia but born in Denmark. He reminded me that at least I didn't fly all the way from Australia to run the race. I reminded him that we had at least just gotten a good 16 mile training run.
I walked back to the start/finish which was luckily just 1 km away. I saw the first place man (from Aarhus Denmark) come in in 2:20 and then there was my old buddy Colleen just 10 minutes behind. Justin was disappointed with his 2:32 finish and 11th place. And SR was also disappointed with his 2:49, but it WAS a PR. We ended up leaving right away after that, both feeling terrible. So I didn't even get to congratulate anyone else. I'm sorry I missed Mette (who I talk about all the time). She DID get under 3 hours and took 5th for the women.
Well, it's back to the drawing board for me. I'm sure part of my problem was that I started out too fast, but with the dehydration, I have trouble knowing how fast to start next time. At least my legs aren't sore and I can resume regular training again. There will be more races and in fact, the 24hour relay run is in just two weeks and the the Aabenraa mountain marathon is in just three weeks. I think I will just have to refrain from categorizing anything as a target race from now on if it's going to result in a DNF! So, yes, my first (and hopefully last) DNF.
Thank you to everyone for your comments and advice. It meant a lot to me. And even if nothing helped me on this run, I'm sure it will come in handy in the future. To Piccola Pinecone: I'm sorry this makes it difficult to determine who won the contest as everyone was infinitely far from my actual time :).