I DNFed my first race ever when I quit at mile 73 of the C&O Canal 100 Miler. There are days when I still forget that it happened, but I’ve been able to move past it with some handy tips:
- Worse things have happened to better people. In the grand scheme of life and the universe, the fact that I didn’t cross the finish line is such a blip on the map. There are people who face real hardship in their lives every day and to get all worked up about a DNF is really a slap in the face to those people.
- Realize what you learned from the experience. Through my DNF, I learned a lot about myself and my love that I call running. For example, I learned that super flat courses, even as a flatlander, aren’t for me. I thought I’d ace the course, but the flatness took a toll on me quickly. I also learned that I need to do a lot more running in the dark to deal with mental toll it can take on a runner.
- Analyze your training to find places to improve. Looking back, I didn’t spend enough time running long. I did a few 50k distances (in training and in a race), but the most time I spent on my feet was 7 hours. Before my only other 100 miler, which I finished, I ran a 12 hour race. The time on my feet, ability to test out eating and hydration, and mental preparation over the 12 hours was so helpful. Without that, I clearly was underprepared during this race and will factor that in with my future planning.
- Remember what fun times you did have. I was able to be crewed by my mother, boyfriend, and a friend, as well as be paced by another friend I don’t get to see that often. The time spent with these amazing folks can’t be taken away, even if my ‘finish’ never was achieved. I also got to run parts of the race with a running buddy that I talk with frequently, but haven’t raced with, nor do I see often. While neither of us finished, it was really cool getting to spend a bunch of hours on the trail with him.
With this DNF in my rear view mirror, I look ahead at my future races (relay in 20in24 and a handful of fall marathons) and realize at the end of the day, DNF or not, I’m one lucky lady to be able to consider myself a runner. Can’t wait to see what the rest of my 2013 race calendar will teach me!