Monday, February 9, 2009

Karen Shinkins DNF/PSYCHO

So this past Saturday was the day of my 2009 pace-making debut at the Boston Indoor Games and I’m happy to report it was a job well done, I think. My confusion arises from the fact that the athletes didn’t utilize me to the full. They hung back off the pace a little too much and as a result left me thinking I had taken it out way to hard. A quick look at the clock as we went through the first 200m told my I was in fact a second ahead of what they were looking for, so after a couple of glances over the shoulder to try and judge the distance between myself and the rest of the field, I decided to steady it up a bit, allowing the ladies to pull that bit closer and drive the pace on from there. But there were no takers. Nobody really wanted to sit on my shoulder and work the race hard from the front. I’m guessing there was some calculating and tactical movements going on behind me that I was unaware of, so I just kept trying to encourage them towards me by constantly checking over my shoulder and adjusting my pace. Once we were past the 500m mark, I stepped off to the side and let the ladies hash it out for the remaining 300m. I was a little out of steam but not crippled. My endurance and fitness is definitely much better than I had been giving myself credit for, so next time it’ll be all the way to 600m, maybe even more, who knows ; )

One thing that did kinda bothered me from the race was the presence of those big, ugly, judgemental letters “DNF” that went up next to my name when they posted the results on the stadium scoreboard and online and in other various print media. “DNF” for those of you who may not know stands for “Did Not Finish”. It’s nothing positive. In fact, it usually means that an athlete has 1. Pulled up due to some instantaneous injury, 2. Was having such a nightmare performance that they stepped off the track or 3. Was unfortunate enough to get caught up in some sort of track scrap and as a result ended up biting it hard somewhere near the water jump. Bottom line, its never good news and so I was horrified to see it up there, in lights for the entire world to read. Never in my life have I been a “DNF”. Even on my worst days, I always got my ass to the finish line. It was a pride thing I guess, not wanting to whimp out just cos things didn’t go my way. So having to suck it up right now was frustrating. As soon as I saw it I wanted to hunt down the announcer, pull the microphone out of his hand and inform the crowd that I was not as the scoreboard implied “A failure” but a “Pace-Maker”, “its my job to step off, so why am I being treated like this?” However, I have a feeling that that outburst may have lead to a result looking more like “Karen Shinkins DNF/PSYCHO” which would not really have helped me save any kind of face. Therefore, in my humble opinion, the only real solution is to add the abbreviation “PM” (Pace-Maker) to each track meets box of verbal trickery. It’s so much less judgmental and helps avoid any feelings of hurt or wounded pride experienced by some of us more sensitive and egotistical pace-makers. Just a thought.