a DNS is most definitely worse than a DNF. The months of planning and training leading up to a race scuppered by injury forcing you to miss the honk of the horn is worse than getting out on that course and giving it a good go before being forced to retire.
And what is even worse than an injury-enforced DNS? A DNS where all the stars were aligned to make for one great big shit storm of a morning.
I woke this morning after a night of questionable sleep, but actually feeling pretty alert and ready to go. I had coffee and then breakfast which I ate super quick to try and supress the nerves that made me want to sick it all straight back up again. I got dressed and taped up areas like nipples and points where chafing occurs on my back from the seam on liner shorts and the buckle on my heart rate monitor strap. I lubed up the other bits. I thought I better put some suncream on just in case too. I collected all my gubbins that I had prepared the night before and about 3 pairs of shoes depending on which way my mood was going to take me on the start line.
Lyndsey and I bundled into the car, started her up (the car, not Lyndsey – she was surprisingly chipper for 4:40 am) and set off for Guildford where we would be picking up Rajiv before heading to the start line.
Within just a couple of miles a couple of strange goings-on started happening with the car and gear changes were not exactly smooth. Just 4 miles from Cranleigh, whatever it was, went – and so did my clutch pedal. I couldn’t choose or change gears and the car came to halt at the junction. We weren’t going anywhere. Lyndsey quickly got on the phone to the breakdown people – having made a note of the details this morning because I couldn’t sleep last night worrying that something might happen to the car (it’s new (to us, it’s actually 10 years old) and Lyndsey is not really used to it yet). I phoned Rajiv and explained the situation. I was more upset about stuffing his race up than my own!! Thankfully his folks were relatively close and able to collect him. He offered to come out to me, but so far away from Guildford would have meant we wouldn’t have made the start let alone the drop bags and race briefing.
I hoped to be able to get a taxi, but with none coming from Cranleigh my only option was those coming from Guildford – leaving me in the same situation as with Rajiv (and costing a fortune to boot).
With heavy heart I resigned myself to a DNS.
A DNS over which I have absolutely no control. I could understand if my knee had flared up, but I’ve worked hard on my exercises and made good progress there. The physio was really pleased yesterday with the improvement I have shown in such a short space of time. Or maybe if I had woken up vomitting from food poisoning that would be OK too. But to have such a crappy mechanical malfunction on the way to my ultimate goal race of the year (or of my life) is gutting to say the least.
I have received praise on twitter and facebook for my attitude in response to the situation. I can only laugh about the situation, because if I don’t I’d probably want to cause serious harm to things – and what would that solve? I’ve never been outwardly emotional about very much in my life, and I am a big believer in fate. I only have to look back at the last couple of years and see how many wonderful things have sprung forth from a pretty crap situation.
Instead, I have focused my attention on sourcing somewhere to look at and fix the car – which of course can’t happen until Monday now, so it remains where it was unceremoniously dumped outside the house. Once that was done a certain weight was lifted and I began to think more about the sacrifices that have been made along the way of training for this race both by me, and more significantly by Lyndsey who has no understanding of why I run let alone why I want to complete this insane challenge.
In an effort to stem that flow of emotion I have begun to look for some other races to fill my training target. I have one or two in mind, but they will involve a discussion with Robbie (who was very supportive with a phone call at 6:10 this morning) and a look at how my finances stand when the bill for any car repairs come through next week.
One thing that it really has made me reflect on in the hours that have passed today, is that my training can be better and I can take time to take it to the next level for a new 100 mile challenge. With all the travelling and knee issues that I have had recently I have woken up to the exercises that I can do to make me a stronger and more efficient runner – more time to work on these can only be a good thing. Some more weeks of committed training on the back of my current fitness base are also not exactly going to hurt.
This may all sound a little pragmatic, but I think that’s a pretty good way to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gutted, but there ain’t much I can do about it now except cheer on those who are currently running there and look to get myself back on a start line asap!