theZeph

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Archive for the ‘pontificating’ Category

The Worst Acronym

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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.

Written by eber

September 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

it is good medicine

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This post may seem a bit irrelevant given it has been three weeks since the race, but it took me some time to process what exactly happened at the Leadville 100.  So consider this my race report.

Those of us who participate in endurance events get this question a lot:

“So why do you do it?”

6 years ago, when I was attempting the Wasatch 100 endurance run I would tell them “it’s family peer pressure”, because theWife’s father and brother have run that masochism every year for as far back as I can remember.

After Leadville, however, I started to understand exactly why we do these things.

It’s about the people.

We’ve all seen the inspiring story of Rick and Dick Hoyt:

Similar accounts have become television specials or screenplays, but there are thousands more stories happening in races across the country every year that only those who were there can attest.  For those of us participating, there is something incredibly intimate about witnessing such manifestations of life…in person.

You want to know why I twice toed the line of the Wasatch 100?

It’s because of the 70 year old man who crossed the finish line 30 minutes past the 36 hour cutoff time.  Shuffling along, bent over at the waist from exhaustion, but determined to cross that line.  The rest of the finishers and their families were already spread about eating the post race dinner, sharing stories of their two days of suffering on the trail when a collective hush came over the entire crowd as eventually everyone began to notice what was playing out at the finish line behind the post race scene.  The hush turned to rousing applause and cheers as the crowd stood to give everything they had to help will that man across the line.  It didn’t matter that it was unofficial. He finished. He inspired.

Or because of theWife’s dad, who on his first attempt of the Wasatch 100 hobbled into the last aid station at mile 92, well past the cutoff time.  The race volunteers told him he had to abandon, he would never make it, the race for him was over.  David –  exhausted, discouraged, but not beaten – looked the volunteer in the eyes and said “you don’t tell someone who has come 92 miles, to stop going.”  He then picked himself up and hobbled on a bad knee across the last 8 miles in the dark to what 5 hours earlier had been the finish line.  By the time David arrived, everyone had cleaned up and gone home.

Every day I see bad examples of the human spirit.  In the headlines, during the commute, around the office, even in some of the same races that bring out the best in people.

But when, DT crossed the finish line at Leadville in 12:01, despite no one (and I mean NO ONE) giving him any odds of finishing, those bad examples are wiped from memory.  Especially when you hear DT, in tears, tell you it was the words of his daughter echoing in his mind that compelled him to finish:

“Win the race, Daddy, win the race.”

That’s why I do it.

My friends Dug and Holly had a similar experience at Leadville…only they didn’t see the ending, just the drama.  After the final gun went off, signaling the official end of the race, they noticed a wife and two small children still waiting for their dad to finish. In Dug’s words:

“Holly and I turned around and saw her. Standing just over the finish line, holding a hand-scripted sign of pride for her man. And her two small children standing next to her, their hero-dad’s race number painted on their foreheads. All of them openly weeping, standing stock still.”

I don’t know if the guy they were waiting for actually finished the race. But as he suffered along those final miles, using every ounce of strength he could muster to turn those cranks just one more time.  Then one more time.  One. More. Time. I am certain, in his mind’s eye he could see his family waiting at the finish line and he could probably hear them saying…win the race Daddy, win the race.

That’s why I do it.

During one of the Ironman specials NBC airs each October, Al Trautwig said something very insightful during his voice over for the Hoyt segment:

“If you have ever searched for the meaning of life.  Stop.  The answer lies right here.”

Can I get an amen?

P.S.  we had the greatest crew in the history of crews.  thanks to Cicely (one of my inspirations to finish), Dad, Mom, JDub, Dug, Holly, Rachelle, Gina, Rachel.  couldn’t have done it without you all.

Written by eber

September 3, 2009 at 5:32 am