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How to DNF and get the pancake

August 16, 2015

I have started and finished 41 half marathons in the last five years. Through snow and rain and heat. Up hills and down mountains. Some by myself, some with friends. Many far away, many close to home. All different. All good. The only thing they have in common is that I finished them all.

Until yesterday. I signed up for a half marathon close to home at Ft. Steilacoom in Lakewood, WA. They offered a free pancake breakfast as well as a finisher’s medal. My great friend Connie signed up, too. She has been nursing a cracking knee and hip and thought the mileage would be good for her.

At Ft. Steilacoom, August 2015 with Connie Many.

At Ft. Steilacoom, August 2015 with Connie Many.

Ft. Steilacoom was the first military fortification built by the U.S. north of the Columbia RIver. In 1868 it became the “Insane Asylum for Washington Territory.” Now, stuck among the ball and soccer fields, there lies a huge off-leash dog park. I noticed this because the course wound around that park several times. Hard not to miss it.

The course was two six-mile flat loops. But I got cranky. I had a hot spot on the ball of a foot and it was only going to get worse – and a blister is not something I need. I smelled the pancakes. I told Connie I didn’t want to do anymore. She was okay with that. We decided we would get pancakes and then figure it out.

In our effort to get to the pancakes we ended up with a nice young volunteer pointing us to the finish line. We thought we would just walk down the finish chute and tell them we quit, but people had seen us and were cheering us to the finish (“Congratulations, you are almost there!”). Why they thought two women who were standing there wondering where to go to get the pancakes were the first ones to finish the the race I don’t know.

So we sidestepped the barrier and just in time, too, because the actual first place guy jetted down the finish chute to the cheers he deserved.

Connie got the last two pancakes, but she shared one with me. I felt better. We decided to get back on the course and did a couple of more miles before we called it done.

I thought I would feel guilty about quitting, but I don’t. I had a good time, I guess I just didn’t feel like doing 13.1 miles. I am fortunate Connie was agreeable, although I certainly would have waited if she had wanted to finish.

Next up is Big Cottonwood in Salt Lake City!

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