DNF vs DNS

Well, I’ve come upon another first in my running career. It’s the first time I’m pulling out of an event I am signed up to run. Let me tell you, it’s a decision that I did not come to easily.

It’s no secret that I am not a hot weather runner. Actually I’m not even a warm weather runner and I’m only slightly tolerant of cool weather. I don’t do well with humidity and heat when I’m sitting on the couch so needless to say running in weather like that is pure torture for me. While a lot of people say they don’t do well in warm or hot weather, I’ve got the hyperventilating attacks to prove it. On a handful of occasions when the weather is too warm for me and when I haven’t had a chance to get acclimated to the warm weather, the results have been hyperventilation. And it’s not a one time occasion; I’ve hyperventilated during training runs, twice during a marathon, and a handful of times at the end of races. It comes from me being overheated and continuing to push on despite the fact that my breathing is labored. I’m stubburn and it’s obviously to my detriment when it comes to my breathing. And it’s this stubbornness that made me decide to pull out of a 6-hour ultra I was scheduled to run in 2 weeks. I have never had a DNF (do not finish) and I don’t ever want to have one. But my 3 hour training run today in 70+ degree heat and moderate humidity has me realizing I’m not ready to run in warm weather, at least not for 6-hours. I struggled and pushed on today and I was lucky to not hyperventilate because the conditions were right for it to happen. I am actually quite surprised that I didn’t have an attack. I did not feel well. And I could not comprehend running another 3 hours in that temperature and humidity. Just thinking about running another 3 hours almost had me in tears. As it was, I spent almost the entire 3 hours that I did run today, talking myself into continuing to put one foot in front of the other. I had to keep making a deal with myself to keep moving forward. And running solo and struggling as I did today, it gave me plenty of time to think about the ultra in 2 weeks. I spent 3 hours trying to figure out if I was just making excuses for pulling out or if I was being smart by not running it. I don’t ever ever want to back out of something because it’s too hard. Hell, that’s the only reason I’ve been able to do some of the things I have done — because it’s been hard and I used that as the motivation to keep going. But how does one really know the difference? I thought I did until today. But in contemplating my race I realized it’s not the distance that had me concerned it was the heat. I WANT to run an ultra. Badly. I just don’t want to run it when it’s hot. And I know myself, I don’t stop even if I can’t breathe. It would seem as if not being able to breathe would be a really good indicator for someone to stop running but it’s a different mentality when running. I can’t explain it. I just always want to finish. I do not want a DNF (did not finish) by my name. So instead I’m going to pull a DNS… Did Not Start.

It’s really difficult for me to admit that I’m actively pulling out of a race and not because of an injury. If I had a pulled muscle, it would be much easier to justify not running. But I guess there’s a first time for everything and it’s just one more “first” for me in my running journey. I’ll keep running this summer and I’ll keep trying to get acclimated to the heat but I just don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for an ultra in June. I’ll have to come to terms with my decision. And actually I should acknowledge the other “first” associated with my decision to pull out. It’s the first time I’m being “smart”. So maybe I should think about this being the first time I’m being smart versus the first time I’m backing out of a race. Yes, that is what I should do.

So, it all makes sense. I’m being smart and being safe. But why do I feel so guilty about it? Why do I feel like I’ve just made an excuse to play it safe and not challenge myself? Ugh. The guilt!!

Does everyone have these type of concerns or is it just me?

If you’ve ever had a DNS… please let me know the circumstances. I’d love to hear.

Until next time,
Gotta run.

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