Monday, June 22, 2015

Throwback: My DNF at 2013 Atlantic City Marathon

In another catch-up race report, I talk about my one marathon DNF (did not finish), which occurred at the 2013 Atlantic CityMarathon. I went into this one with a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that I’d been running on all summer, against better judgement (but a Marathon Maniac doesn’t always use good judgement…especially when several race weekends are already booked and paid for). I also made the mistake of being a spectator at the Baltimore Marathon the previous day. Let me tell you: it’s not a good idea to stand on your plantar-fasciitis-ridden foot all day, especially the day before a marathon. I had fun in Baltimore, and saw lots of people I knew on the course. But this may have been the reason I wasn’t able to finish Atlantic City. Lesson learned.

Some of the Maniacs before Baltimore 2013; I'll be spectating with Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo 
Scot after Baltimore

After Scot finished the Baltimore Marathon on Saturday, we drove to Atlantic City. We were picking up packets for several friends, then we checked into our hotel. Lisa would be staying with us, but she wouldn’t be arriving until late. We met Peter and Jing Jing for dinner at the Tun Tavern, which was very conveniently located in the Sheraton. I had a great beer sampler and we enjoyed the dinner.

This statue was outside the Atlantic City Sheraton and was motion-activated; if you stand under the crown, it will play "Here she comes, Miss America..."; there was a fair amount of Miss America memorabilia inside the hotel

The next morning we walked the several blocks to the starting line on the boardwalk. We found several friends there and posed for pre-race pics. The weather was a little chilly, but not too bad. I was excited to finally be crossing New Jersey off my states list.

A couple of pre-race pics with Maniac friends

I ran the early miles with Linda, Norma and some of their friends. I think this was the first race where I met Angela, who was running the half. They did a reasonable pace, but my plantar fasciitis was uncomfortable from the beginning. Part of the course was somewhat boring as we ran out to the Borgata casino/hotel, which was away from the boardwalk. Eventually, we made it back to the boardwalk and ran a stint there. I lost Linda and company because I had to take a bathroom break (indoor plumbing at a bathroom on the boardwalk!). But then I found Scot. We ran for a while together, or sort of together (he usually runs ahead, then I catch up).

Not sure what Linda and I were talking about

When we approached the turn-in for the half marathon, I was tempted to stop. I knew my foot would hurt worse later on, but I still didn’t feel too bad. I was willing to see how it would hold out. The full marathon winner zoomed by us on the boardwalk when we were only halfway done. This is sometimes inspiring to see. That day, I think it was a little discouraging, knowing that I had 13 miles to go on a bad foot, and the wind was picking up.

On the boardwalk just before the halfway point

Scot high-fives Steve who is, well...several miles ahead of us...

Much of the second half of the course runs through residential areas. Some of the architecture is interesting, some not so much. The air was cold, the wind was getting much stronger, and it was very discouraging as my foot started hurting A LOT. Somewhere in this boring, mind-numbing, foot-hurting section I lost Scot. And then I was only able to walk, no running at all. And I was going very slowly. I didn’t like my chances of finishing within the course time limit. For a few miles I pondered my options. I could keep going, but at my rate, I would definitely be over the limit. There would be a chance that I didn’t get an official finish time. I didn’t know how generous Atlantic City Marathon was about keeping the finish line open, but after the published time limit, I couldn’t count on it. The other option was to drop out. I didn’t like that option, as I’d then have no finish, not even a half marathon finish. And I’d have to find yet another New Jersey race. New Jersey was not my friend, as I mentioned in my blog post after I finally did finish New Jersey, in 2015.

I arrived at Mile 19. I was still walking very slowly, and in a lot of pain. The volunteer at Mile 19 was very friendly and upbeat. She had her two small children with her, and they were all cheering for the back-of-the-packers. The volunteer also had a chair. I asked if I could sit down for a couple minutes to regroup. While I was in that chair, I decided to drop out. Even if they did give me a finish time when I eventually got there, I didn’t think it was worth putting 7 more miles of impact on my foot. New Jersey wasn’t that far from home, so I’d have other options to do a marathon there. What was important now was healing my injury. The volunteer called a race official, who was on his way to check on that part of the course anyway. While I was waiting for my ride to the finish line, fellow Maniac and 50 Stater Ed came by. He was going to finish New Jersey that day, but I was not. I wished him well. As he was returning me to the finish area, the race official drove along one of the main legs of the course and we saw Scot. I was able to tell him about my DNF, and say I’d see him at the finish. 

It was a sad thing to arrive at the finish party with no finish and no medal. I saw several people I knew, and congratulated them. I had a beer or two. Hey – I paid for it, and earned it with all that pain on my foot! I can say that the finish festival at Atlantic City Marathon was very nice. I waited for remaining friends, including Scot, to finish the race. And then we drove home.

We had to visit Lucy the Elephant before driving home from Atlantic City

It was a very difficult decision to drop out of this marathon, and I didn’t make it lightly. I still believe I made the best decision for myself on that day. And then I made the decision to drop out of the Marine Corps Marathon just two weeks later. If I had to DNF at Atlantic City, I had no business even starting Marine Corps. I took my bib and ran the 10K course instead. And then…I had no more marathons for several weeks. I rested my foot, and things did begin to improve.

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