Monday, 11 February 2013

My first DNF

Yesterday was the Braintree Boggle Marathon, a small affair organised by a few members of the Springfield Striders and the Mid-Essex Casuals running clubs. It's a cross-country run around Braintree, and totally self-navigated, which I was very nervous about, with only marshals at the four checkpoints out on the course. The forecast had been terrible too - heavy rain for most of the morning followed by heavy snow. It didn't look like it was going to be much fun!

However, I sent off bright and early on Sunday morning, despite my trepidation and was looking forward to trying out a different sort of race which I thought would be a great training run in advance of the St Peter's Way ultra which I have in a few weeks.

We started well - gripping the four sides of A4 route instructions in a plastic pouch, 100 or so of us ran off up the road and soon got to the fields. I don't think it'd started raining at that point, although it was definitely very cold, but the weather certainly wasn't as bad as I'd expected - unfortunately though, an awful lot of rain had already fallen, and the ground was either flooded or very muddy and slippery with the Essex clay! My feet were quickly drenched from the puddles, but soon afterwards my shoes filled with mud which at least helped to keep my feet warm ;)

Before too long the field started to thin out, and although I ran for a fair while with a lovely guy (who's name unfortunately has escaped me) who was running his (i think) 280ish marathon that day, there were also lots of miles run on my own, when I had to put my navigational skills to the test where there wasn't another soul in sight! I was pretty pleased with how I managed to be honest - although those instructions look scary to start with, once you start getting through them, they made sense and were pretty each to follow.  What was less easy, was staying upright!

I was in my road shoes (I only own road shoes) and the route really was very hard work - without a shadow of a doubt I should have been in trail shoes and I think I was the only person who wasn't. I was slipping and sliding all over the place, and it was slow jogging or walking for most of it, as I couldn't get up any pace on that terrain. There were a few sections of concrete track, tarmac path and even country road, and although they were few and far between, they were absolute god-sends for me as I really was struggling!

By about 15 miles, I had something else to content with...the niggling knee pain that I've had for the last few weeks really started to develop, and soon because agonising to the extent that I couldn't run on it at all and could only walk. I initially thought I'd walk for maybe 5 or 10 minutes, but each time I started trying to run again, I'd find myself yelping in pain.  So, I resigned myself to walking.

So, walking.  Not that much fun to be honest. I was dressed for running and in the incredibly cold conditions and with a biting wind I soon started to lose heat, particularly in my hands. I was lucky I had a buff to protect my face but wished I had another layer to put on.  Anyway, walk I did, on my own, for three freezing miles until the checkpoint, where I declared that I'd had enough and I was pulling out. My first DNF.

The ladies at the checkpoint were lovely, with offers of coffee, and homemade flapjack, which was very gratefully received. I sat in their car until someone was able to give me a lift back to the start, and although I had a blanket, I unfortunately started to get incredibly cold, shivering quite violently. But as soon as I got into the heat of the car on the way back to the start, with the heated seats (wow - bliss!) I soon felt much better...although my knee was still complaining and I was limping now even when I was walking.

But I made it home. RICE followed with lots of ibuprofen gel. This morning though I'm really not able to walk without significant pain, never mind run. Not good, and so for the first time in a couple of years, I called in sick (well, injured) to work, and am spending the day resting my knee and will hopefully get to see the physio in the next day or so to find out what's wrong.

I feel a bit weird about not finishing the race but I know it was the right decision. I couldn't run, and there would have been absolutely no point at all in walking another 8 miles, even if I did have the mental strength to do that, which I don't think I did.  Besides, walking a third of the course just isn't what the marathon is about. I always told myself I would never have a DNF on my record, but you can't control injury, and sometimes, you've just got to be sensible.

1 comment:

  1. You know what, a DNF is prolly not something you ever wished for, but I think you made the right call. It's much wiser knowing when to stop than pushing yourself and risking much worse injury! So well done. And you still managed to get a good ole' long run in. Heal fast!!!