When to pull the plug on a race

A lot of runners are afraid of the dreaded DNF, but personally, I’m a little more afraid of the DNS – did not start.  Which is worse – not making it to the finish line or not making it to the start line, and when should you make that call?

I’m registered for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon on Sunday.  Training has been going ok – not great, but alright considering I’ve been having problems prioritizing my life recently and my long run time has been suffering the brunt.  This doesn’t bother me.  I’m ok with not going a PB, especially when I know that I don’t have the necessary work behind me to get there.  My longest lead up run was only 14km, but I know that I can push through to 21km.

My problem now is that I have an unrelated to running injury, which is bothering me more than a running injury would.  Running injuries suck, but they usually come from the training that you’ve done (or mistakes in that training that you’ve made) and when you mention it to another runner, they understand.  They nod their head and are sympathetic to the words of shin splints, plantar fasciitis and broken toes.  Upper body injuries are something else entirely.

On Thursday morning last week, I somehow hurt my neck brushing my hair.  Something simple, like turning my neck slightly wrong, has almost incapacitated me.  What started as a stiff neck, has gradually gotten worse and the pain has definitely moved, and is now radiating around my rhomboid.

And by radiating, I mean stabbing.  With intermittent throbs.

I’m used to shoulder pain.  In what almost feels like a former life, I was a competitive swimmer.  I have thoracic outlet syndrome.  My left shoulder and I have been enemies from way back when.  What I’m not used to is when an upper body injury could potentially be the cause of a DNS or DNF in an event that is primarily lower body.

I’m heading to my physio this afternoon and see what they say.

The old adage is that even if you finish last, you beat all the people that didn’t start.  The problem is, where do you draw the line to decide whether you should toe the starting line or not?  Finishing a race is great.  Causing more damage to yourself is not.  Am I being a baby?  Maybe.  But is the use of my arm worth the pride of finishing a race?  I don’t want to not race – I love the Canadian Running Series events.

Right now, I’m going to play it by ear.  Or by shoulder as the case may be, but as of right now, the thought of swinging my arm back and forth for two hours?  Sounds like a nightmare.

A Nightmare on Elm Street movie where Freddie Krueger just stabs me continuously in the same spot.

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