Because OF COURSE.

A couple days from now, I might run my 50th marathon.

I might.

I sit here on my couch typing this and I feel utterly defeated, like the universe is conspiring against me or maybe just trying to send me a very strong hint that I’m an absolute idiot and need to let go of this whole marathon thing. And yet, it’s just not that simple.

As you likely know, I had a great race until mile 19 at the Spinx Marathon 3 weeks ago, where my back just totally quit on me. I took recovery seriously, didn’t run for a week, and then came back to see how my back was handling it. And to be honest? It was sometimes ok, and sometimes not. My 10 mile run felt great, but 3 mile runs with AJ sometimes felt terrible and left me aching for days. But I thought “I can push through it for one more.”

Then, I got the news that Amanda is no longer coming with me to Route 66. Basically, she hadn’t trained for Spinx and that race was very challenging for her, and she hasn’t been able to run since due to hip flexor issues, so it doesn’t make sense for her to use the vacation time to go to Oklahoma and spectate. I get it – I’m super possessive of my vacation time as well – but still, there goes my running partner and the person who has been by my side for what seems like the majority of these 50 marathons. I made my peace with it, though, and realized there could be beauty in finishing my 50th marathon the same way I finished my first one – alone. There’s something to be said for having no one to rely on but yourself, and it’s been a long time since I ran a marathon completely on my own. So I thought, ” I can push through it for one more.”

Route 66 Marathon 2012, with Amanda and some absurdly photogenic guy in the background (seriously who looks like that)

But then, in the middle of last week, I woke up with horrible acid reflux. Long time readers of this blog will remember that I used to throw up in almost every marathon I did as a result of chronic acid reflux and the basically non-existent valve between my stomach and my esophagus. I had surgery to basically create a new valve back in February 2013 and it has been a miracle for me – I haven’t had reflux for more than about 2 hours since then, and only on very rare occasions. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. So when I woke up with horrible reflux, I was startled, but I assumed it would go away.

It did not go away.

Over a week later and all I can taste is acid in my throat all the time. No medication helps. I had not made any changes to my diet. I haven’t been eating particularly inflammatory foods. There is no rhyme or reason for this to be happening, and the prolonged nature of it is very concerning. So, after much denial, anger, and bargaining, I finally called my surgeon and was lucky enough to be seen right away. He was very concerned that either the wrap around my esophagus has failed, or that I’m having gallbladder problems. Given that my dad and my brother have both had their gallbladders removed, either scenario is possible. I was able to get some tests done on Thursday and I have an upper endoscopy scheduled for Tuesday, and then we will go from there.

And so now, here I am, on the cusp of my 50th marathon, with a back that hates me at least 50% of the time, facing the prospect of running the entire thing alone, and with a near guarantee that I’m going to spend a decent portion of the race puking acid. You might find yourself, like the rest of my family and friends, wondering why I haven’t dropped out yet. I’m not entirely sure either. The whole idea seems completely miserable, but I hate the idea of quitting.

Route 66 Marathon, 2013 – Taking jello shots at mile 14, naturally. It was 27 degrees when we FINISHED that day and I still wore a tank top because I am an idiot.

This is the 10th anniversary of the Route 66 Marathon – one of my absolutely favorite races. So many of my friends live in Tulsa. I had this marked as my 50th marathon for a long time, and I hate to give up on the idea of it. More than that, though, I am starting to see myself as mortal. I am starting to respect my body. And I am beginning to realize that maybe, just maybe, my body doesn’t really appreciate me running 26.2 miles anymore.  My experience at the Spinx Marathon made me question what I’m doing even more, and I’ve since been preparing myself for the very real possibility that the Route 66 Marathon will be my last marathon ever.

Honestly? I’m ok with that if it turns out to be the case. I’ve made my peace with the idea. I have nothing left to prove to myself or anyone else, and there is no reason why I can’t still travel around and do races with my friends – although they might be half marathons from now on. But I don’t know if I can let go if my last marathon is #49 and it is Spinx. That is not how I planned to end this chapter of my running career. And while I realize that we don’t always get to plan how things end, I still had high hopes.  I envisioned a smooth transition from running marathons to training hard (within my limits) for half marathons and testing myself there. I envisioned going out in a blaze of glory at the 10th anniversary of Route 66, capping off 50 marathons and accomplishing a slightly modified version of the goal I laid out when I originally started this blog (to run a marathon in all 50 states by the time I turn 30).

Route 66 Marathon, 2014 – Finishing with Terry (in orange), co-leader of my Tulsa running group, as he completed his first marathon after beating cancer. One of my favorite race experiences of all time.

I turn 30 in about 3 weeks. Although I obviously won’t be finishing the 50 states by then, there’s a real possibility that I can finish my 50th marathon. The question is – do I want to? The answer to that question, of course, is yes. But will I? To that end, I’m really not sure.


40 thoughts on “Because OF COURSE.

  1. Sorry you are going through all of that! I hope you feel better soon! If you do come to Tulsa I would love to have someone to run with. I haven’t really run since NYC 3 weeks ago and this will be my last marathon. I’d be going very slow though. It will be a long goodbye to marathons :). Your health is the most important thing, however. Do what your body tells you is right. Feel better soon!

  2. Ugh! So sorry you are dealing with all of this … I bet it was hard even writing it all down!

    Now I know I am normally the voice of ‘don’t do anything stupid’ and ‘you don’t HAVE to run’ and so on (not that I listen to any of it myself … ) …

    BUT I say DO IT! But be safe.

    You have no time goal, no ‘I have to run X% of the race’ restriction, no pace, no ANYTHING but going to one of your favorite places, one of you favorite races, taking some pictures, being silly, taking it slow and easy and eventually crossing that 50th finish line.

    I would also say it is probably a good idea to plan for it to be your last – to be 30 and have accomplished running 50 marathons in many different states … not bad. You will remember it always.

    1. I have to say, I was surprised to read this from you! I definitely thought I’d get a “don’t do anything stupid” and “you don’t HAVE to run” comment from you! Your comment did seriously influence me to run the race because if you are saying that I should, then I probably should! Thank you for the great advice 🙂

      1. Thanks 🙂 Of course it is easy now to look back now and think that it was all wonderful, but honestly I took leaving that comment very seriously, and with deliberation (but also made sure to get it in before heading to work 🙂 )

        Because in my head I had the “‘don’t do anything stupid’ and ‘you don’t HAVE to run’ ” comments swirling, but also had a nagging sense that if you didn’t do this you would regret it. Sure you could say “I made the smart choice for my body” and no one would say anything or disagree … but YOU would be left with that thought and regret.

        And I also love the last paragraph I wrote, because it really reflects the ‘going out on top’ sentiment echoed in your recent post.

        Of course I would have been GUTTED if things hadn’t gone well, so I am glad that it was a picture perfect end to your marathon career … 🙂

  3. Oh, Danielle. I wish I knew what to say to help, but honestly, we both know that there isn’t anything to say that will help, so I’m letting you know that I am sitting here, “quiet” and sending you support.

  4. I wish I had valuable advice for you. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years now and know how meaningful this race is for you. I hope you are able to get what you need and want out of it. Puking acid alone sounds miserable. Hopefully your back holds up.

    1. Thanks, Hollie! I know you are really careful and conservative about running through injury and reading your blog and following your races has definitely impacted how I think about running and racing when injured. I am a lot more conservative now than I used to be!

  5. While I hope you can do it I would totally understand why you can’t. Why not have it not by the time you’re 30 but maybe the last one during your 30th year? Is there a marathon rule that you must RUN? Why not walk? Or would your body not like that either? What about AJ running w/ you?

    1. No, there’s no marathon rule that you must run (I walk plenty in a lot of the races I do), but it takes a VERY long time to walk 26.2 miles and honestly, that’s not very much fun for me. I don’t mind walking some, but walking for a long time gets boring to me. I’m glad it didn’t come to that!

      I read AJ your comment and he laughed 🙂 He has no desire to run a marathon with me and is not in the shape to do so – he runs about 4 miles right now.

  6. Danielle you have been through a lot and you have always overcome it. Even if you do not run Route 66, I do not think Spinx will be your last marathon. You have so many years and so much more running ahead of you even if you have to back out of this race. I am sure you’ve thought of this before with all the back surgeries, but you overcame that and you will rise above this. Even if you don’t run all fifty states by a certain time… you have accomplished way more than most people ever set forth to do and you’ve had fun with it and made friends. Just setting the goal, even if you don’t meet it, has really impacted your life.

    1. Thanks, Amy! Unfortunately, I am pretty sure this was my last marathon. While I do think that I probably CAN do them, it is becoming more and more painful and I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. It’s not good for my back anymore and I think it’s important to take care of my body now. I’ll be finishing the 50 states doing half marathons and look forward to a long racing career, just at a slightly shorter distance 🙂

  7. I also say, DO IT!

    While it might not be the “smartest” thing to do, considering your legit concerns. But how can you NOT run, walk or crawl, to the finish line?!?!?

    You love this race, it’s an anniversary race AND it’s your 50th.

    Speaking from personal experience. I totally beat myself up on race day, when I wasn’t able to make the start line. I could have done it, I know I could have… I still haven’t forgiven myself. (kidding of course).

    If you choose not to run it, We all still LOVE you and you’re still my HERO!

    Good Luck!

    1. You’re so right, Karen! I cheered when I read this comment. I really wasn’t decided when I wrote this post, but comments like this made the choice easy. THANK YOU!

  8. I am so sorry you’re going through more medical challenges; you’ve had more than your share and come through them with such humor, strength, and honesty. T Rex deserves a break! In terms of the marathon, I say go for it and if you can’t finish it, you know you tried. And no matter what, remember all of us around the world who are cheering for you and who you have such a positive impact on! You set out with a goal of 50 marathons in 50 states before you turned 30 and look where the path took you (and will continue to take you whether you run Route 66 or not). THAT is really something.

    1. Laura, your comment meant so much to me and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated reading it. I always appreciate the support of my readers but it is so powerful to know that you guys are thinking about me and cheering me on. It’s a great feeling, and I could not have made it through #50 without you guys!

  9. I can’t make your decision for you, but one thing is really NOT a factor: you will NOT be alone. I’m not running Rt. 66 this year, but there are HUNDREDS of Maniacs signed up. If you go, be sure to wear a Maniac shirt and you will NOT be alone. Just think of all the friends you’ve met on marathon courses, you’ll either meet some new ones or end up running with old ones. Good luck, whatever your decision.

    1. You’re absolutely right, Sandy! And I know that deep down, but I have been very self conscious and worried about feeling terrible and being grumpy and bringing the people around me down. It would be one thing to run with really close friends like that, but it’s totally different to meet strangers when you’re in that kind of mindset. I’m glad it didn’t come down to that!

  10. Danielle, What ever decision you make, it will be the right one for you.
    If you choose to run, look for me and I will give you a high five and hug.

  11. It’s interesting how we sometimes place so much significance on what is essentially an arbitrary number: 49 v. 50, 4:01 v. 3:59. I’ve loved following your journey and you should be very proud of all you’ve accomplished in the marathon. Just do what feels best for you and your health. Sending hugs.

    1. Very true, Emma! And I thought about that a lot while trying to make my decision. Does 49 vs 50 really matter? I decided that no, it does not. But it did matter to me that my last marathon be one where I finished happy, excited, and full of joy, and that was why I decided to run this race as my last one. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

  12. Danielle, first off, regardless of what you choose, you should know you are an inspiration to many runners and your decision on this won’t ever change that fact. My only suggestion, as a person who has undertaken many goals in my journey is to ask yourself how you will feel if you don’t try? If you are comfortable with that, then let your body tell you what to do. If you think you will look back on this and beat yourself up if you don’t try, then you gotta do it.

    Also remember, this isn’t the last marathon that will happen. Even if you don’t run this one, number 50 can still happen.

    Whatever you choose, best of luck and let us know!!!


    1. Your advice was so incredible helpful, Mike! Seriously. I read your comment multiple times while trying to decide what to do and I realized you were 100% correct. Thank you for the GREAT advice and for taking the time to comment!

  13. I’m bummed that you’re having issues. I’d love to see you in Tulsa again as you finish marathon #50. But I’d like it even more if you take care of yourself for the long term. Do what you feel is best; and don’t beat your self over the decision.

  14. I just read your newest post. I had to leave a few words of support here.

    First, I am so sorry to hear that your back issues and reflux have returned. And I’ll echo Michael’s sentiment: two and a half years since your surgery?? I can’t believe how times flies…

    Even without the looming marathon, they are significant health issues – but because it’s an emotionally charged race, it makes the decisions around it that much harder.

    I had to come in and say that although I don’t know you, I know that not running the race, or at least showing up to the starting line, will be harder on you than anything your back or reflux have going. I’m the same way. Being left to deal with the backlash of my spiraling thoughts is the impetus for what gets me out and doing half the stuff that my body says I can’t.

    I believe in you no matter what you end up doing.

    1. It is pretty crazy that y’all have following along with my blog for this long! I agree, I can’t believe it was that long ago but then again, so much has happened since then! Your comment was spot on, and I nodded my head while reading it before the race. Not trying would have been much harder than going out there and suffering, but I am fortunate that I did not suffer. Thank you SO much for your support and encouragement in my choice!

  15. So sorry to hear that you have so many unexpected obstacles in your way! I can definitely relate, having been told by my primary care doc. back in August that I probably shouldn’t run my Oct. marathon (I’ve been struggling with anemia on top of the fall-out from bi-lateral foot surgeries and some other stuff for a while). I just couldn’t fathom not doing the race even though my training felt off, and I knew my health wasn’t where it should have been in an ideal world. Was the marathon tough? Totally….It was a downright suffer-fest at times, but I let go of any time goals and ended up having a blast joking with other runners and smiling through the pain. I was elated to finish and while it was my slowest marathon to date, I’m so proud that I didn’t give up and fought hard for that finish. Dig deep and stay strong…you’ve got this, no matter what tomorrow brings!

    1. This story inspired me, Steph! It is really HARD to press through pain like that and knowing that someone else can truly relate is so helpful. I vowed to race like you and I did!

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