Best Mother Runner Moments of 2016: The Marathon That Never Happened

We're sharing the Tribe's best Mother Runner moments of the year, and this one grabbed our attention the minute it landed in our inboxes. While it's not necessarily a happy ending or a "best moment," we appreciate that Tribe member Michelle San Antonio was willing to find the good in the bad.


"It's kind of hard to call this my 'best' mother runner moment, but it was definitely the most defining moment of my year. After spending 15 weeks training for a PR in Boston in April, I was literally stopped in my tracks halfway through my final 20-miler when my back seized up. Ten miles away from tapering, and I was suddenly unable to even walk normally. Despite a barrage of chiropractic, PT, and acupuncture treatments, I was still limping three weeks later, and Boston was out of the question. I made the very difficult decision to go to the expo anyway, because I wanted my bib. I earned it when I qualified, and I couldn't stand the thought of it just going in the trash. I also went to the finish line as a spectator on race day and spent the day cheering and crying and taking in the Boston magic from the other side.

"As hard as it was to be in the city on race weekend knowing that I wouldn't be running, I also drew so much strength from the entire experience. When you've poured your heart and soul into a months-long training plan, only to have it all yanked out from under you in an instant, you realize how much more strength it takes to not run those grueling 26.2 miles. This experience taught me a whole different kind of mental toughness, and although I still feel sad when I think about having to miss out on this year's race, I'm also more driven than ever to train hard and run fast so I can get back to Boston and redeem myself. The races we don't run teach us just as much as, if not more than, the races we do complete." —Mother Runner Michelle


Did you have any race disappointments this year? Were you able to find a silver lining? Share below—we'd love to hear your story.

9 responses to “Best Mother Runner Moments of 2016: The Marathon That Never Happened

  1. I qualified for my 3rd, and (presumably) last Boston with a great run at Grandma’s in 2015. My summer running was great, when suddenly, in the fall, I had sever pain in my knee. After months of guessing, and MRI told me what I already knew-a torn meniscus. And, the kind the DR can’t fix! I still believed I might run Boston, but despite amazing PT and body work, I simply couldn’t get the training in. I actually ran Grandma’s again this year as a consolation, but with little training did not qualify for Boston again. While I am proud that I am running at all, I don’t feel reconciled without finishing that last Boston. Dreaming of one more BQ, which means 2 more marathons….I know it’s crazy, but it’s funny how you let your dreams get the best of you. I am not quite ready to give up my running, it is a soul saver. Inspired by everyone’s stories here

  2. Not this year, but while training for my first marathon in 2012, I developed a wicked case of posterial tibial tendinitis and had to stop training about 6 weeks prior to the race. I was completely devastated, but I did learn some great strengthening exercises from my PT, and also found Superfeet inserts, which I swear have helped me stay relatively injury free ever since! It’s hard to believe at the time, but there really always is another race – finishing the same marathon that next year was extra meaningful and I actually crossed the starting line with tears of gratitude.

  3. I registered for my first marathon in November of 2015. The race was in April of 2016. I followed a plan, did my 20-milers, had a long run pace that was even better than my target race pace. I was so excited but on the Tuesday before the race on Saturday, I got sick. I don’t know if it was food poisoning or the flu, but I still couldn’t keep anything down on Friday. I went to the expo and got my bib, all the while thinking of dropping to the half. I ultimately decided to go for it and the morning of the race I threw up three times before getting to the start line. The first five miles went alright, but by mile 6.5 I knew I was in trouble. Every time I tried to hydrate I got sick. I made it to mile 10 and started walking, but by mile 13 I knew I couldn’t keep up the minimum pace. At mile 14, my husband met me (I had called him). He’s a runner but not fond of long distances. He offered to run the last 12 miles with me but I just couldn’t do it. What I leaned was: you can fake a half, but you can’t fake a full. I went on to finish my first full about six weeks later, but when I look at my medal collection for 2016, all I see is the one that’s isn’t there. However, I carry with me the knowledge that my husband loves me so much that he’d run a race he didn’t train for to help me achieve a dream, and that’s a pretty good balance. 🙂

  4. One of my best friends was diagnosed with cancer in October 2014. After a little more than a year of holding steady, the cancer started to catch up with her. In March of this year, she told our group of tight friends that she was stopping treatment. The last time I saw her was two days after the Vancouver Marathon. She was unresponsive, but I thanked her for being the most fantastic cheerleader and source of support for me, and for being the kindest and most true friend a woman could ask for. She was a fiercely competitive tennis player, and she loved sports and challenges. I gave her my medal to be with her in the end…I swear I felt the twitch of her fingers when I was talking with her. Her husband returned the medal to me after she passed two days later, and that race will always be my Carla race. It’s a goal now for me to find “her”in the spectators of every race I run. She’s there.

  5. I had my first DNF. I trained all summer in the horrible Kansas heat and humidity on some hard trails with great friends. I felt ready and rested, yet mother nature threw us a huge curve ball that day. A late starting race, coupled with no shade and horrible heat kicked pretty much all of us in the butt. Even though I hydrated like a boss and my nutrition was on point, I was just no match for the heat. When I stopped sweating, even though I was taking in my Nuun and water, I knew it was time to call it quits. When I crossed the trail head at 22 miles in, I called it for my safety. It was a super hard decision but one I had to make. I am lucky in that I found another ultra in KS a month later and redeemed my DNF, but I will never forget my first DNF.

  6. I ran a half marathon in April that was a slog, to say the least. I was under-trained after a foot injury knocked me off my training schedule and resurfaced during the race. I was a lot slower than I planned. The last 3 or 4 miles were a struggle and I dragged myself to the finish line. The silver lining is that the bad experience/injury caused me to pull back on long-distance racing for the rest of the year. With no pressure to stick to a challenging training plan, my love for running was rekindled. I ran a couple of 5Ks and had a blast. I would just go out and do a few miles every couple days and it felt great. In 2017, I’m going to take on the same half-marathon that left such a bad taste in my mouth and this time, I’m gonna conquer it! 🙂

  7. After reading the cancer story in the comments section my story is just silly, but I’ll share it anyway. I ran my first full marathon this year and it poured rain. I was soaked through and freezing cold by mile 7. I wanted to quit right there, but I’m shy, so I hid in a porta-potty instead. 😀 I spent about 20 mins in 4 different porta-johns that race, trying to warm up, trying to convince myself to keep going. I couldn’t open my own gu’s, pull up my pants after using the john, or even tie my own shoe when it came untied at mile 24! My hands just wouldn’t work! The silver lining? It made me crazy hungry for a do-over race! And running in an “ice bath” and taking such long breaks prevented the dreaded post-race soreness! I was fine the next day (after a long, hot bath)!

  8. I ended 2016 with not one but two DNF’s. Not a great way to end the year but when I look back at all I accomplished, it was understandable. I ran 3 half marathons, 2 sprint triathlons, and my first ultra marathon. It caught up with me and taught me to be kinder and more patient with recovery. Patience is not one of my virtues but I’m trying!

  9. I trained all summer for the Marine Corps Marathon, which I had registered for way back in March through the lottery. Life threw us a curve ball in September when my husband went in for a routine colonoscopy and (long story short) ended up with a cancer diagnosis. His surgery was scheduled for October 27, three days before MCM. Needless to say I wasn’t going to run it, but surprisingly I didn’t feel disappointed. I knew there would be other chances to run. The silver lining? There are lots of them. 1). In early October I ran the Hokie Half Marathon in Blacksburg, Virginia, and instead of running it easy and treating it as a training run as I had planned, I gave it my all. I didn’t PR but I ran my butt off and had a great time. 2). I had built up a great base over the summer training for the marathon, and I think that helped me get a 5K PR on Thanksgiving morning at our local Turkey Trot, and a half marathon PR in early December. 3). Here’s the best part! All the cancer was removed during surgery, there was NO spreading and NO cancer cells in his lymph nodes. This journey has been a reminder that family is infinitely more important than any race.

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