Moo Cow Half Marathon - DNF

This is not the race report I expected to write. I expected to write about how I finished Half Marathon #15. Instead, this race report is about my first DNF (Did Not Finish). All week I had complained about this race because the course was so hilly. And it was. But earlier in the week, during last Thursday's run, I thought to myself, "So this is what it's like to run without any aches and pains." Because for the first time, I haven't felt any. Nothing. The yoga craze that I've been on has paid off and I've felt so good lately. And that's how the first part of this race was for me.

But let's back up to last night.

Saturday Night

My family commemorated the 10-year anniversary of my Uncle Jerry's passing. We went to the cemetery to lay flowers on his grave, and then went to dinner at Red Lobster, his favorite restaurant (seriously, it was). For the most part, I was mindful of the race, and ordered a Caesar salad (no dressing), the broiled seafood platter (scallops and shrimp - didn't eat the sole) with a dry baked potato. But I also had a cup of clam chowder and 2 cheddar biscuits. I figured that I was planning to burn 1200+ calories the next day, so I indulged. For the record, I do not think anything from this meal played a hand in today's race.

However, I didn't get home until after 9 pm and had to be on the road by 4:45 am this morning in order to get to the race in time to pick up my bib, timing chip and race packet. I hurriedly threw all my gear together, answered a few emails, and then went straight to bed. I had gotten 8.5 hours of sleep on Friday night and knew I'd be lucky to get 6 hrs on Saturday night (I need at least 7 to feel functional).


Morning came too soon and I pressed snooze a few times. Too many times where I didn't get out of bed until 4:30 am. I quickly got dressed, threw my gear in the car and was on the road by 4:48 am. So essentially, I didn't eat breakfast and had nothing in the car with me except for GU. No biggie, right? I decided that since I usually eat a pack of GU right before a race starts, I'd be fine. Mistake #1

I also was excited to try out my new iFitness belt. It has the toggles to hold a race bib (no safety pins needed!), but also did not have the water bottles. I figured I'd just drink whatever they were serving on the course (had no idea what it was). Mistake #2

You can see where this is going.

The race was in Petaluma, which is a whole county north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a 60+ mile and 1+ hour drive for me. The roads were super dark and windy and at times I wasn't sure where I was. But my GPS led the way and I arrived shortly after 6 am. I parked 1 block from the Start and had no problems getting my stuff. I met up with RoadBunner and her BF, and then met up with Jessica, then Kerry just before the Start of the race. This race was small and so low key that we were chatting away until we heard the gun go off signaling the Start.


{Me, Jessica and RoadBunner)


{Kerry, me and RoadBunner}

The 5K and half-marathoners started at the same time. The police also kept us to half of the road, so there was a limited amount of weaving. I think this worked well for me because the hills started right away and it forced me to stick to a pace where I didn’t exert myself so early in the race.

The hills were no joke - up or down. There was one lady who kept yelling, "I love down hills!" and I kept thinking, "She does know that this is out and back and she'll have to climb it on the way back, right?"

I felt so good during the first 4 miles - like REALLY good. We actually saw cows (quite a bit of them), along with dogs, sheep, goats and a blondie horse that kept running around in his corral. There were also a lot of folks who set up chairs on their lawns to spectate and cheer us on as we ran by. It was rather quite enjoyable and made the crazy hills more bearable.

But then my stomach started to churn. Then turn. There were port potties at the aid station along the 4th mile so I stopped. I thought to myself, "Well this is a first, using a porta potty during a race." But when I got in the porta potty, I ended up puking. Puking Espresso GU and whatever PowerBar sports drink they served on the course in a porta potty is the grossest thing ever. Like EVER.

I got back on the course and tried to pick up the pace again, but I just couldn't. I'd run a few yards and then felt like heaving again. Except, there wasn't much of anything to heave.

Along the 5th mile I saw Jessica heading back and knew she'd place. I yelled out that my stomach was killing me and she yelled back, "Bad hill!" And yes, it was. Most brutal one ever.


I tried to run/walk it but just didn't have much energy in me. There was an aid station just before the turnaround but at that point I couldn't even stomach drinking water so I decided to end the misery. I have another half scheduled next Sunday and there was no point in prolonging the suffering. So I asked them if this was also a medical station. The look of panic came upon their faces and they said, "Uhhh, we have a first aid kit, what's going on?" When I told them that I was done, they told me to go to the turn around and there were volunteers there who could help me.

I walked up to the volunteers and asked them if they were with the race. They said yes and when I uttered the words, "I can't finish", I unexpectedly started to get choked up. I was a little surprised because I had made the decision so matter-of-factly. They were so supportive and understanding, and called for someone to come and pick me up.


{the amazing volunteers who helped me out}

Shortly there after Kerry came by; when I saw her I started to get choked up again, but she gave me a big hug and offered words of encouragement. It made me feel a lot better and I told her to just continue on.

My ride came and chauffeured me back to the Start Line where I met up with Jessica, 5th place Overall Female!, and RoadBunner's BF. We watched RoadBunner finish strong, and then met Todd, a fellow Daily Miler! Then Kerry, RoadBunner, RoadBunner's BF and I went out to brunch. I had dry whole-wheat toast and bacon, which still made me feel queasy.

I didn't have any appetite for the rest of the day, but managed to have some soup for dinner. Physically, I'm feeling a lot better now. At the race I was completely fine with my DNF and even texted to my running coach that "there will be other races." But as the day progressed, I began to feel pretty crappy about it.

I'm supposed to run the Half Moon Bay Half Marathon next Sunday, but I'm having mixed feelings about it. I'm not sure if I'm up for another race. I still want to run it, because it is such a beautiful course, but I'm contemplating dropping down to the 5 or 10K. I guess we'll see how the week progresses and go from there.

As for the Moo Cow Race itself, it was a feel-good one. Sure the course was tough (RoadBunner says it’s the toughest half she’s ever run – harder than Nike!), but the spirit and energy of the race was just so "homey." I definitely would recommend it and run it again. In fact, I do plan on running it again – I need redemption, and that cowbell medal (the whole reason I ran this race to begin with)!