I've been thinking about marathon DNS (Did Not Start) and thought I'd explain how my 5th marathon became a DNS.
I ran two marathons in 1981 and again in 1982 (Green Mountain, Vermont in August and Foxboro in Massachusetts in October or November). I trained for and registered for Foxboro in 1983 but did not start the race due to a hectic schedule that only gave me four to five hours of sleep a night . I had been going to night school for 5 years to get another Masters degree (Computer Information Systems), and I had been taking one class per semester; the classes had software projects that took quite a few hours outside of class. However, in the Fall of 1983 I took two classes and had to complete two projects. I was working 9 hours per day with 2 hours of commute time. I was teaching a religion class at 6 am to several high school students. My wife and I had a very large garden that needed harvesting and rototilling during the fall. And, if all of that wasn't enough I needed to split and stack 5 cords of wood for use a year later after the wood had dried. And, I don't want to forget to mention that I was a father to four children, two of whom were teenagers, and a husband to my dear wife. Oh yes, I was training for my 5th marathon. My training for my previous marathons peaked at 45 miles per week, but for the 5th one I peaked at 50 miles per week. I held up pretty well to all of this until the morning of the marathon. I woke up that morning and felt like I had been run over by a truck. I didn't even get out of bed; I just turned over and went back to sleep.
I felt bad that I hadn't run the marathon, but I knew I had done the best I could, and I had no regrets. I continued to run around 25 miles per week and enjoyed that, as I had enjoyed all of my running. I didn't train for any more marathons while I was in Massachusetts. I became interested in video and shot a lot of tapes of school board meetings, school plays, parades, vacations in Maine, birds and squirrels, the regional symphony orchestra, etc., and showed them on the local Access cable channel. I had so many things on the Access channel that my kids called it Allen Leigh's channel. One of the events that brought me a lot of pleasure was the annual Memorial Day parade, probably the highlight of the town activities. I shot the parade by running ahead of the parade, shooting some tape, running ahead again, and so on. After the parade and memorial program, I went home and quickly edited the tape and took it to the cable station. They played the tape over and over again all day, and quite a few older people who couldn't get out for the parade called in and thanked the station for showing the parade and program.
I believe that our trials and difficulties happen to us for a reason. In my case, I learned that I can't do everything I would like to do and must set priorities. Races are nice, but they pass, and as I look back on the various races I've run I realize they were nice at the time, but they aren't the most important events in my life. If I had to choose between my races or my video work or my being a Scoutmaster for 12 of the 17 years I was in Massachusetts, I would choose the video work and my scouting work. Those activities influenced many people, from the performers to the spectators to the boys in my troop. Just so you won't think I'm negative about my running, I do enjoy running and think it is one the most important things I do. I run because I enjoy it. In addition, running has given me a strong body, a body that almost died four years ago from an auto accident but was strong enough due to my running to keep on living even though the doctors called in my children on two occasions because they didn't think I would make it during the night (my wife was in a different hospital at the time having her own injuries to overcome).