DNF... What Does That Mean?
DNF did not just mean “did not finish” at Voyageur this year. It also meant “did not fail”. With each attempt and DNF there are lessons to be learned. What have you learned? How have you applied them in your life?
Superior is my trophy this season and it is just 7 weeks away! Last year I also treated Voyageur as a training run for Superior and finished with a new 50 mile PR. I certainly was on pace this year before calling it a day after 35 miles.
Here’s how it went down. The first 22 miles I don’t remember much. I was in a great rhythm running more than in years past which was my plan. I would like to finish Superior this fall in the daylight on the second day. At about the 23 mile mark I started to feel chaffing on my inner thighs. I’ve done this enough to know that it is important to stay ahead of that from the get go. It was great until the heat picked up and the Peri-Garde didn’t hold anymore. I reapplied every 15 minutes between miles 25 and 28 before I decided to ride it out and hope it would create the second skin that I experienced at Superior ’14. It didn’t. With every step I mentally had to go to a deeper and deeper place. I wore a pair of old Speedcross 3’s that I had already blown a hole in and the dust was making its way into that too. My big toenail on my left foot was too long and in pain as well as the outside toes on both feet beginning to be rubbed raw by the dust and mileage. If anyone has any advice on anti-chaff, please share.
Could I have finished at Voyageur? Yes. My body felt great. My mind was right and at mile 32 I settled into a great rhythm once again. There was a Canadian gentleman singing his way to the powerlines and as I passed his jog with my walk I knew I had gotten to the point in my race that I wanted to see during this event. I was walking the flats and ups quickly and jogging, using gravity on the downs. I thought of the powerlines. I thought of the time left on the trail even if I just walked it in. I had 15 miles to go and averaging 20 minute miles it would have taken me another five hours. I chose not. Once my mind went there, on this day, it was enough.
There are a few positive take aways from Voyageur 50 Mile 2015.
· It was my longest run of the year. With moving in April and settling in it was important to get set at home. I also recently joined Toastmasters to hone my public speaking skills. That’s every Saturday morning from 8:30 to 10:00. 35 felt great and I’m confident, if I can get the chaffing figured out, I am right on track in my 100 mile training.
· I was forced to bust through some serious mental barriers and reached a good depth of focus. I was truly outside of my head and focused on nothing but the few feet in front of me. I know I was moving well because I was passing people and gaining distance from them just by moving the way the ground would allow.
· My fueling system was working for me and I feel great now two days after the event. I know I ate well leading up to Voyageur and during the race despite the heat and humidity. I needed to drink a bit more water and I let the balance get too much tipped towards electrolytes but that’s the way I like it to be when dealing with heat. Water is easier to pound and cramping is typically not as imminent with too much electrolyte.
· I’m sure there are more as I take a couple of days here and hit the trail again once my chaffing fully heals. I look forward to the lessons learned from each event and the lessons always transcend the trail into business, being a husband, father and friend.
So, this year’s Voyageur 50 Mile for me was a dnf. Not just a “did not finish” but a “did not fail” too. I took much out of this year’s event and if nothing more, as I feel tears welling in my eyes, it was great to be around the energy and calm intensity that is ever present at Upper Midwest Trail events. In many ways the ultra-community has changed my life for the better. I am grateful and blessed.
No matter what it is, go out there and do something that challenges you. If you come up short or even choose to stop, learn from it and keep going. Do not settle for average. Be extraordinary in life. Pick something that challenges you and go after it. Most people don’t. You can separate yourself from the rest by moving into a place where discomfort is sure to wait. Embrace that and use it for fuel to move forward. Learn something new every day and progress towards your vision. It doesn’t even have to be fast and furious. Steady, consistent effort will win.
Thank you for the support. I feel truly blessed and inspired to run, write, create and motivate. Go get it!