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Noble Canyon 2022 – DNF and Lessons Learned

Noble Canyon 100k DNF Kennith Pinckney Live Run Boundless
Name: Kennith Pinckney
Race and Year DNFd: Noble Canyon 2022
My DNF Story:

First, Noble Canyon 50 DNF is one of three DNFs that I have received in my short Ultra trail racing career. I’ve competed in four ultra trail races and this race was the hardest but it stung the most. Noble Canyon is in my backyard in San Diego and I was running with a lot of the SouthBay YMCA trail running family.

Why Noble Canyon 50k?

It was in 2017 that I got turned on to the race. I went to a few training runs that Noble Canyon was hosting. It was a great time because I was also surrounded by the SouthBay YMCA Trail running crew. 

After those training runs, I went to the event to support and cheer on friends. I could feel my excitement for the race, the race directors, volunteers and athletes grow. I knew that one day, I’d be on the other side toeing the start line.

It was 5 years in the making and I knew that in 2022 that I would be at the starting line of Noble Canyon. The anguish of pushing their body to the brink and the smile when the achieved their goal was seared into my brain. I was going to be one of those athletes.

The previous two DNFs, I was hurting really bad. I knew that I could handle a DNF. But Noble Canyon DNF was different.

Not Ideal Training

I injured my plantar fasciitis around May. It was one of the biggest injuries I had injured during my running journey and it was painful. I knew that the race was in September and I figured I would have enough time to heal and be ready. The reality was that the injury didn’t really heal until August.

In that time, I had cut my running down to once a week and maybe about 5 miles. I did all the things that you are supposed to do. I cut-down my runs on roads and changed my shoes to one that was more supportive and had lots of cushion. I rehabbed with tennis balls, small medicine balls, ice, stretch bands and a boot.

Despite the setbacks of having plantar fasciitis for a few months and missing out on some very important training runs, I thought I would be ok. I was almost certain I was going the cross the finish line and kiss the rat.

I Was Ready

Noble Canyon 50k is an annual event for the SouthBay Y trail running family. There are people who have been running this race the past 5+ years and have a jacket to show for it. I was excited to run this race for the first time. I was feeling good and I was prepared. The weather was excellent compared to the weekend before when it was hot, humid and dangerous to be running in. I was set up for success, or so I thought.

When the race started I felt calm. This was where I was meant to be. Within the first few miles I felt focused but noticed I had a hard time breathing and controlling my heart rate. Was I just undertrained? I had a conversation with God to help me get through these first few miles. Eventually I was able to settle down.

I knew I had to run my race and not be worried about the others around me. I couldn’t push too hard but I underestimated the time I had to be at the last aid station which was mile 28. When I got there I was hurt and upset. Having volunteered at aid stations before, I knew that the volunteers were just doing their job. I was not upset with them but that didn’t make it hurt any less. I could see in their eyes, this wasn’t something they were happy to be doing.

It Hurt, But It Was Temporary

Having my bib taken away at the last aid station with only 4 miles to go, hurt really bad. I was really disappointed. I was so close. I really wanted this race.

What I realized, after a day or two, was that this was part of the journey. My DNF was a part of the process that I have to go through to get better. It helped that I had met Mario the Legend on the course and he told me that I inspired him. DNF or no DNF, that is what is important.

The following Saturday, I went out for a run. I was hoping it would clear my head and allow me to move forward. I think that a lot of the hurt has left. Knowing that the race is still over a year away will have me thinking about it until then.

See You Next Year

That being said, when the gun for the start of the Noble Canyon 2023 event goes off and I take my first step, I will be on my journey to redemption. When I cross the finish line of the race and I’m smiling and cheering, I will know that the 2022 Noble Canyon 2022 DNF was a speed bump. A ‘failure’ that I was able to build success upon.

That DNF does not define, but instead, helps me be a stronger athlete.

Lesson(s) Learned:
  1. Show myself some grace, i was dealing with a injury and just getting back into form, to be able to line at the starting line and 4 miles away from crossing the finishing line and I done not went through all the training is a huge accomplishment.
  2. Out on the trail during the race, I came across this gentlemen, maybe in his 70s or 80s. Talk to him a little during the race and after the race. He did finished the race on time but he still ran the whole race and ran it with joy. I hear his story a little and been around a long time. What I learned, this is a journey and there will be more racing to run, enjoy the journey.
  3. Going and see what I could do different to approve, to get better. Get input from others that could help me get to where I need to be at.