I Get Back Up-Oil Creek 2017
Did Not Finish
For years, I fought the initials..saw them as a sign of weakness...of unpreparedness...of a sign that I didn’t handle something correctly.
I’m over that.
Sometimes, It feels like I collect DNF’s. There is a normal progression when I earn one, not unlike the stages of grief. I rationalize. I rip my race apart. I wish I could get back on the course for one more chance. I move on to the next race.
I’ve come to accept that I am damn proud of my DNF’s. Each and every one that I have earned has pushed me to my absolute limit. I don’t quit easily, and it is empowering to know that I can push myself until I have absolutely nothing more to give, regardless of if I hold a buckle at the end or not.
One draw of Ultra-running, is that it doesn’t have a *&(% to give about what you’ve done before. Experience is nice, but each starting line resets the clock. Mother Nature, wild life, course conditions, these things are all out of my control, but will uniquely challenge my fortitude. Some days I beat them. Some days they beat me. I keep coming back to fight.
For weeks, Rog and I have been preparing for Oil Creek. Most of our conversations ended the same way, “WE finish”. We’d built this race up to milestone proportions. We talked about clothing, paces, nutrition, and if you know Rog, you know we talked about shoes.
We wanted this to be an epic send-off for us. We knew how we wanted our finish to look. We planned our after-race celebration. We embraced the suck.
We forgot only one thing…
We didn’t finish.
Either of us.
And, it doesn’t matter.
It took us a few days to lick our wounds. (Rog, you’re granted more time for this), but we are already talking about what we will do next year. And, none of the plans we are making include running the race (I still think fishing off the coming home bridge is a GREAT idea, btw).
The race won this round. Great. Congratulations. But, so did we. We got back up, we moved past limits. We learned what we can handle. Challenges will be there for us to face again, and we will.
I have a wall full of buckles. I am immensely proud of them. They signify times I was able to figure out a way to the finish. But, just as important are the spaces I’ve left intentionally blank. These represent the times that the trail won. These spaces fuel me more than all the bling surrounding them. They represent the times I got back up.