Do you know the voice in your head? Yes! That one! The one we hate to hear? The one that tells us we are tired, in pain, hurting, you can’t do this, not wanting to do this, or that we can do this another time or day? Yes! Do you recognize that? Me too. How about when we listen to it and find ourselves in regret and falling into the vicious cycle. I have found myself in that same situation many times.
I’m going to share my story where this came about, and follow that with some encouragement for you!
I have been running for about 10 years. I started like most do by dabbling in the short distances and getting the courage to run longer distances. I ran my first 5k in 2008, half in 2010, full in 2014 and just recently popped my cherry into the ultra world with a 50 mile race in 2019. In 2018 I met someone who turned out to be the greatest friend and supporter for my biggest accomplishment ever! We ventured on long runs together and they always seemed easy. But one day, I hit a wall early and it hit me HARD! He simply told me “DFQ – Don’t f*cking quit.” Don’t, just don’t give in to your mind.
Later on, he gave me a patch that simply has DFQ stitched on it. To someone else it may mean nothing, to me, it meant I had work to do. Every time I felt myself going into a hard training session, a long run or even a tough situation, whether personal or professional, I always kissed it. I keep it in my trail pack so when I felt myself faltering, I’d pull it out to remind myself to keep going. I reminded myself that I am the one in control of every situation I put myself into. I control myself, my reactions and my emotions. I couldn’t tell you how many times I needed that reminder.
The week before my ultra, my emotions were in a hiatus. I reached out to my coach in tears whaling about being scared I was going to let him down, that I wasn’t going to finish, that I was not ready for what I prepared myself for. Afterward, I then reached out to my friend and he simply stated “DFQ,” which is what I expected of him.
On race day, I felt my heart racing and I was numb emotionally. I pulled out my patch and kissed it like I always do. Held it close to my heart and put it back safely. I didn’t want to let my fear take hold of what was about to be a dream come true. I felt strong and confident at the start and through most of the race. It was until I made it to mile 37, a half marathon left to go and 4 hours until cutoff. I was so thrilled to see my two friends at the aid station and fumbled to her car. I was nauseous, tired, my watch was dead, I had no concept of time and I was in so much pain. I tried to eat and sipped on some pickle juice, grabbed more food and took off. I had 4 hours to run a half marathon. I knew I could do this, but I didn’t believe I would. I was on the longest stretch between aid stations, I have no idea how fast I’m going or how many miles I have trekked, all I know is that I am looking for a tent and listening for the sound of a cowbell. But it was in these long 10 miles I had hit the hardest wall of my life.
I felt my body shutting down, hallucinations, the queasiness hitting me harder and harder while I forced myself to eat. I grabbed tree branches to help me walk, the cramps were excruciating and sometimes felt debilitating and every tree I passed, I wanted to lean against it, fall to the ground and bawl. I wanted someone, anyone, to come by to pick me up and tell me to keep going or the sweepers to come by and tell me I missed the cut off and that I would be disqualified. I hit my lowest low. I pulled out my patch. It reminded me of all the work I put in to even make it to this moment. I felt the support of so many in that glimpse of a moment. I had friends who drove all this way to cheer me on, my coach who taught me so much, my parents who were so shocked at what I was doing, and me who was proud of me.
I couldn’t let myself just give up now. I kissed the patch, put it away and kept moving forward. In all the moments I could’ve caved into my fears, I pushed through. I have no idea how long it was but when I heard that cowbell and the words “We’ve got a runner” from the top of the hill, I felt so excited. I asked how much time I had to get to the finish, “3 miles and one hour” was the reply. I took off! I RAN! My body and mind went numb. I had THREE MILES to go and one hour to the cut off! I am NOT F*CKING QUITTING! At 13:58:47 I crossed the finish line and fell into the arms of two of my biggest cheerleaders. I ran 50 miles with less than two minutes to spare to the cut off time. I did it! I didn’t quit.
Sisters, you work your tail off daily to be better than you were yesterday! Everything you do, you put your heart and soul into it. Please let this inspire you, from a girl who didn’t grow up playing sports or knowing what fitness even was, that no matter what you do in life, you promise yourself “Don’t f*cking quit.” Don’t. Don’t quit when it gets hard. Don’t quit when it’s too easy. It’s going to hurt sometimes, and sometimes that pain will be the very reason you quit. But dear, let me remind you that pain will always be there, whether you finish or not. So don’t f*cking quit. Don’t give in to your emotions, don’t give in to other’s opinions, don’t give in to other expectations, don’t f*cking quit. Don’t quit working toward a goal because you think someone is judging you, f*ck them, do it anyway. Don’t quit running because you’re not as fast as someone else, f*ck that, run anyway. Don’t cry when things get hard because it’s not going to change the situation, f*cking face it head-on and push through it strongly! Be PROUD of yourself for every step you take forward is another step toward your dream coming true! Whatever it is you have dreamed up, “DFQ,” “Don’t F*cking Quit!” So proud of all of you! I love you ladies!