The Worst Acronym
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.
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.
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.