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My First DNF Race (Did Not Finish)

I was finally able to convince my family to join an off-road multisport event, and just last weekend, together with my Dad, my Mom and all my brothers, we joined our first off-road duathlon race. Woohoo! My Dad has even outdone my 17-year old brother, who did not train very well for the event, but nevertheless, has finished the race. Two of my brothers also won for their age groups. It was a very memorable day for us!

That was a good start for my family. I see that they all enjoyed the race, and I am hoping that they’ll be inspired to do more in the future.

As for me, this is my first DNF (Racing term for “Did Not Finish”). I have no regrets because I had an experience of a lifetime. The run was okay, but the bike—amidst all the adrenaline rush, endurance, strength, mind set and all—there were lots of falling cadence, mud all over the sprocket, rig, front and back wheels, and, two things that heavily struck my bike: a broken sprocket and a non-turning rear wheel. That just did it. I was through. Halfway through the 5 kilometer stretch I was carrying my very heavy bike, and well, there’s 10 kilometers of uphill and mud to go! I really wanted to finish the race, but the conditions didn’t just make it so. I just had to admit to myself that I am having my first taste of DNF.

I was turning first for the women overall, and I felt so bad during the race, thinking that I can never make it to the end. Then with the broken bike, I had to give up my odds of winning the race.

This race is my “first” in two aspects: apart from this being my first off-road duathlon event, this is my first impulse-motivated event. I didn’t really prepare for it. Heck, I didn’t even own an off-road bike! For years, all I had was a racer bike, and I was trained on smooth, seemingly unending roads. But with the sudden popularity of off-road multisport events, I impulsively registered less than a month before the race—without a bike, and without off-road training.

My Dad, Mom, and brothers, though, all were into mountain biking more than road e racing. But they just do it for fun; while I do racing very competitively, with the hopes of trying out for the national team.

As I headed out of the course, finally having my resolve to say “I quit,” I heard from the marshall, “We have our first DNF for the ladies here.” I wanted to cry, but I thought about my family whom I pushed to join this race. I don’t want them to see me feeling so defeated.

The marshals carried me in their car to the Finish Line, because my bike is so broken the wheels cannot be turned anymore, and the weight has suddenly tripled or quadrupled than what it was supposed to be. At the Finish Line, I saw my family waiting for me. They were all looking very happy with their Finisher Medals. They hugged me, and told me it was okay. I have nothing to worry about. They also thanked me for encouraging them to join the event, as it has boosted them to train more for future races.

You know what, I suddenly felt like I was splashed in water, and I didn’t even feel a bit remorseful about the whole experience anymore. I realized that this race was simply amazing, and this is a good motivator for me to try another trail race with my family. I realized that in every race, as in every important decision in life, being resilient against all storms is very important. And this, I can achieve by preparing well, training well, and knowing my limits. Sure, impulses lead us to things we have never tried before, but impulses should always be grounded on knowing one’s capacities, rooted from experiences. I may like to scuba dive, but without any training whatsoever, I am risking my life for irresponsibility and selfishness.

Though off-road races are a lot, lot more risky than road racing, they are more enjoyable than road races because of the heavy communion with nature during the entire race. I would never trade anything for that. I am crossing my fingers that I can do another one soon!

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Posted on November 21st, 2014 by stargazer

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