Self Pity and the DNS

What the crap, 2017? You were supposed to be the year that was the balm for 2016. Sure, you weren’t as bad as ’16, but you haven’t felt all that great either.

My bib number for the Mark Twain 50-mile trail race is 29. However, for a number of reasons, I’ll be a DNS (Did-Not-Show) for the event. Well, one reason.

I’m not ready.

There are a number of reasons I’m not ready, in that there are one or two legitimate reasons, and a host of excuses that have curdled around them that I’ve used as reasons not to double down and be ready.

I’ve known for probably two months that I wouldn’t be ready, and have accepted it for nearly a month now. Then about two weeks ago, the emails began.

Race instructions, carpooling requests, event details. Each one was a sucker punch that wasn’t a sucker punch because I knew it was coming, and I just let them hit.


The most recent email had my bib number, and Number Twenty-Nine will go down as my second-ever DNS. The first was 2016’s Berryman Marathon*, which I wisely bowed out of because of a gap in medical insurance coverage.

#29 hurt because I didn’t have a valid reason to not be ready. Sure, I had any number of quasi-verifiable excuses, but not a single valid reason.

It’s taken me two weeks of wallowing, self-reflection, and more wallowing, but I’m starting to come out of the tunnel on this. I’ve had to re-examine why I enjoy running. Except, that’s not 100% honest.

I’ve had to re-examine if I enjoy running.

For 3 years, running has been a central part of my identity. It’s been a crutch and coping mechanism for depression, a pressure-release valve for stress, and at times just a way to reset.

So when I say that the examination of whether running was something I wanted in my life was an unpleasant and maybe slightly terrifying effort — I don’t mean to over-dramatize.

I don’t know if I’ll be back for the MT50 in 2018, but I have signed up for the Potawatomi Trail Run 50-miler on April 7th.

That’s what I’ve realized in the re-examination of my running. Running is seldom easy; the ease in dealing with the Black Dogs in life is closer to mythological status than common. But for me, the former has become a practical exercise in the latter.

Left foot.

Right foot

Repeat until finished.

*I returned this past May for the 2017 Berryman Marathon.

Like what you read? Give Matthew Pavia-Higel a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.