I signed up for this year’s White River 50 hoping to redeem my previous performance, which had started as a bid for a third win in a row and devolved into equal parts getting passed on climbs and squatting in the woods. Then, a couple months prior to the race, as I was throwing the training plan into high gear, I blew a hamstring and only started training again about a week before the race. Of course, I planned to race anyway for fear of losing the moral high ground needed to tease Joe Creighton about his previous DNF. Fortunately, I pay someone smarter than myself to manage my training plan and he strongly suggested I consider the health benefits of not running 50 miles on a recent injury. I’m somewhat proud of my progression as a runner that I actually took his advice.
I also learned a couple things about a DNF at White River that I hadn’t really known before:
- The first half can be much more enjoyable knowing you don’t have to run the second half.
- The disappointment of not completing the race lessens as you look into the hollow-eyed stares of runners contemplating the climb to Suntop as you contemplate which gummy bear flavor pairs best with Rainier.
- Grinding down your body with physical misery isn’t always as fun as hanging out with your friends talking about those in physical misery.
- You can still be a winner (First place DNF!)
- The plot of everyone’s favorite 1988 Tom Cruise vehicle “Cocktail” makes as little sense after 20 miles as it does after 50.
So, redemption is on the table for next year. But, if that doesn’t happen, at least I know there’s nothing to fear in the DNF corral.