theZeph

namely, fit for a dog

The Worst Acronym

with 10 comments

Did Not Finish (DNF).

Okay, that may be a bit melodramatic. There are worse acronyms.

DOA, SOL, GOP – all infinitely worse than DNF.

But for an endurance athlete (again, I use that term loosely) having those three letters show up next to your name on the results page of any race is disheartening. Especially a race you were all geeked about.

So what happened at Pierre’s Hole? Nothing.

I had nothing from the word go. After twenty-five miles still nothing. No spark. No passion. No energy.

I’ve said it before, the mantra for endurance events is “no matter how you feel now, it’s gonna change”. As such, I kept going, hoping the lifeless feeling would eventually morph into something better. But as the miles ticked by…30…35…45…I never felt better. By mile 45 I was spending more time off the trail than on it while letting other racers pass. So at the end of lap two – mile 50 – I stepped off the trail and laid down on the grass. When theWife asked what I needed, I responded:

“I just need to lay here and ponder the meaning of life for a bit.”

And then slowly I slipped into a depressingly deep state of introspection.

It was only my fourth DNF in 10 years of endurance events. I’ve bailed on the Wasatch 100 twice and missed the time cutoff at the Butte 100 – but in none of those did I feel so desperately at a loss.

When I dropped at Pierre’s there were maybe twenty people from the Draper crew milling about. As time passed, I sat there two feet from the race course I had previously suffered on…pondering. Until at long last, it was just me. Sitting in a camp chair. Alone.

At one point I looked down and noticed I was wearing only one shoe – the other I must have pulled off earlier in the day. I hadn’t remembered removing it. If you were a stranger passing by you might have thought I was a lost, homeless, single-shoed mountain biker. We all know the scene in endurance event documentaries – you know the one, as racers still speed by there sits the one who dropped – his face solemn and forlorn. Wondering what might have been. What went wrong.

Yep. That was me.

Truthfully, for about a month leading up to the race I had felt the same way on training rides…lifeless. As I puzzled about what might be wrong with me , I thought seriously whether I was really sick. Was something terminally the matter? Did I have a tumor? (right now theWife is reading this, rolling her eyes and saying you are SO extreme. hi Wife!).

No. Nothing was wrong with me. Well, other than I eat like a glutton, train like a couch potato, and have too many balls in the air.

I am officially losing the battle with busy.

But sitting in that camp chair on that lonely August Saturday in Wyoming I wasn’t just thinking about the DNF at Pierre’s. No. No, on that day I sank much deeper into the recesses of regret.

I thought about the training plan I had worked up late in 2010 to prepare for a killer race year in 2011…DNF.

I thought about the disciplined diet I’d hoped to maintain leading up to and through the big races of the year…DNF.

I thought about the lawn I was going to mow before leaving for Pierre’s…DNF.

I thought about the horrific mess in the garage I’d promised theWife five years ago (and every year since) that I’d clean up…DNF.

I thought about that side business I’ve been wanting to start for the last two years…DNF.

I thought about the journals I wanted keep about my daily interaction with my sons (the same journals I’ve been meaning to keep for seven years now)…DNF.

I thought about visiting my best friends dad before he passed away from stomach cancer…DNF.

Then…

I thought about dying.

And wondering – when that day eventually comes – what my life list of DNFs will look like then.

Busy is a brutal tyrant. It can rob us of things in life that are infinitely more important.

On that Saturday in August, I learned a priceless lesson in life…enough really is enough. If it isn’t, we all risk missing out on what really matters most during our short time here.

So it’s one month later and I am still not winning my battle with busy – life has become even more hectic. But, I’ve lost ten pounds since I dropped out of Pierre’s and am eager  to give the Park City Point to Point race hell on Saturday (although we all remember how that worked out for me last year).

But more importantly than the race, I’m paying more attention to what is really important and working on shortening that final list of regretted DNFs.

Bottom line?

Life is short…don’t DNF.

P.S. by far, the highlight of Pierre’s Hole was seeing our good friend Brandon “Evil” Banks cross the finish line after 15 hours in the saddle. Brandon went through two years of endurance race DNFs before finishing (and completely destroying) three of the toughest races in the region this year. Brandon taught me another great life lesson that August day…how to persevere. Nice work Evil and thanks for the lesson.

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Written by eber

September 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Well said man! Well said. I have learned more life lessons in my 2 short years of riding/racing endurance events than I ever imagined. I have pushed myself waaaay beyond the point of suffering that I ever thought was possible for my pea sized brain. They mess with your mind and definitely make you reflect on things. Persevere is such a great word. I know the lifeless feeling well. Lookin forward to you all crushing Point 2 Point.

    Nate

    September 2, 2011 at 8:31 am

  2. Enjoyed the read, Eric. Well put.

    Rich

    September 2, 2011 at 8:38 am

  3. Great post, Eric! All very true words, and felt by many more around you than you might recognize. Most everyone feels overloaded and ‘undertimed’. The remedy? Say it with me, ‘it is what it is.’. You simply give it your best and move on. At one point or another one of those balls in the air isn’t quite where it should be- behind at work, didn’t plan the Sunday school lesson too well, five pounds overweight. All that matters in the end, and I mean ALL- is your family, your faith and your friends. Everything else comes and goes, but those three get you through ANYTHING. I can attest to that first hand. ANYTHING!

    Good luck tomorrow, man. No DNF in your future, that’s what the magic 8 ball just told me!

    Todd

    September 2, 2011 at 8:38 am

  4. Well said. Whenever I want to DNF, I just think of this fellow, who clearly has never and will never quit: twitpic.com/6evno9

    Adam

    September 2, 2011 at 8:40 am

  5. Great blog. Here’s an additional thought — I greatly respect you for the fact that you even try. I rather have a few DNF than DNTry. Your awesome Leadville ride showed us that.

    Sarah

    September 2, 2011 at 8:45 am

  6. I’ve learned a couple things racing with the “elite” group this year:

    1) DNF is a fact of life. If you’re not getting what you came for out of the event, save it for another day.
    2) Being “elite” at one thing, whatever that is, usually precludes being “elite” at pretty much everything else. So choose your battles.

    Good luck tomorrow.

    mark

    September 2, 2011 at 9:45 am

  7. Well put Zeph. Evil Banks is an inspiration.

    Jonnie J

    September 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

  8. Hey man…I’ve been slacking on my blog reading as of late and just barely read this. I TOTALLY feel you on the DNF’s of life and I definitely need to get in the game. Thanks for the kind words brother, it was unbelievably cool to see everyone waiting at the finish line for my 15+ hour ass…………My friends rule.

    evilbanks

    September 8, 2011 at 10:37 am

  9. DNS is way worse.

    gords

    September 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm

  10. found your blog through ksl. I really relate to this post. I attempted the wasatch 100 in 2005, while trying to finish school, remodel our house, work over full time and prepare for our first baby. I DNF’ed at Brighton. Not many days go by that I don’t think of that day and how I wimped out. Like you I am way to busy with…everything, but the busy-ness is my own creation. I have now taken up mountain biking and am looking forward to cyclocross, but I still have unfinished business with the “wasatch”. I am afraid to try it again for fear of failure. Next time….I hope my list of dnf’s (diet,exercise time with the kids, wife’s honey do’s) is not regrettable. Thanks again for the post. :)

    peter Vanderlinden

    September 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm


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