Two Important Lessons I Learned From My DNS


“No Marathon For You” [journal entry]

So I’d been working toward my first marathon, which was to have happened November 9. The training went great, despite a few weeks that I needed to cut back on the intensity due to a sore hip. I ran back-to-back half marathons, with no trouble. I was amped up for the big day, and then … My first marathon never happened. It was a DNS1.

My car broke down, literally just in time for me to drive out to Nashville for the marathon.

[ Previous journal entries: My first marathon weekend approaches! and Marathon update: 8 weeks to go! ]

I live an hour away from Nash. That’s way too far to take an Uber (it would have costed a few hundred), and I didn’t really know anyone else I could have gotten a ride from, especially so last-minute.

A DNS?! OMG, I was mad. And depressed. And the other emotions associated with the stages of grief. #AllTheFeels. I spent a solid two weeks struggling to get over it.

Now that I’ve gotten past the grieving process, I can focus on some positive takeaways:

#1. No training is ever wasted

No training is ever wasted. Period. I’m in the best shape of my life! For goodness sakes, I ran a 20 mile long run prior to the taper, and felt fine. In fact I went to work the following morning like it was nothing.

I can build on my current fitness to be even more ready for another marathon. (For my next-first marathon?) So that’s a nice bonus.

#2. From now on, I’ll have a backup plan for race-day transportation

In hindsight, this seems obvious. But at the time I didn’t think anything of it. After all, I drive to and from work in Nashville all the time2. If I had been any further, I would have rented a motel room close to the start line.

The marathon was a huge investment in time and money. The money wasn’t just the registration fee. It was the shoes I went through while training, and the gels for the long runs. Neither the time nor the money was wasted, for the above reason. Still, it makes sense to protect that investment for a race day pay-off.

A plan B for transportation is an absolute must. I learned this the hard way. Either I’ll book a room closer too the the start line if the race is more than 20 or 30 minutes away; or I’ll make sure I know a few people who are going in case I need to hit them up for a ride; or I’ll have an emergency stash of Uber money.

This DNS sucked, because it seemed like such a crappy reason. But… I can chalk this up to a learning experience. And I figure my first marathon is only going to be more satisfying. And there will be a first marathon, by golly.

Stay tuned.


1. DNS = did not start

2. Incidentally, this is something that I am thankful for. I had taken a big chunk of time off from work for the marathon. It sucked that I spent that time shopping for a new car instead (because it was too expensive to bother repairing), but at least I already had the time off. If the car had died any other time, I would have been in trouble.

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About Daniel LaPonsie 53 Articles
Daniel is a writer and runner. He was born in west Michigan (where the north begins and the waters run pure). He currently writes, runs, and works in beautiful Tennessee.

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