September 20, 2014 was the day I retired from obstacle racing. At least that’s what I told myself, as I made my way through the Vermont Beast yet again.
I couldn’t get into that race this year. I couldn’t answer the question why.
Why was I there? Again? For the third time toeing the line of a race, when I rarely do anything more than once?
I almost quit that day. Twenty minutes in I almost quit, as I was bored to tears. Up the hill. Down the hill. Run towards the lake. I knew what was coming.
We were going to run up the hill (or more accurately, crawl) up the hill many more times, and carry heavy things in between.
I have done this before. I have completed a Spartan Sprint, a Spartan Super and a Spartan Beast before. In fact, I have made podium at all three distances. I have completed the Ultra Beast in 2012. I did Spartan Hurricane Heat in New Jersey. I showed up at the Spartan Death Race in the summer of 2013, and stood at the final line-up 57 hours later.
Spartan had nothing on me. There was nothing they could throw my way that I would not finish. Norm will continue to design more punishing courses year after year. By 2020, Vermont Beast will be 30 miles and take 24 hours to finish. And I will always finish it.
I will complete most obstacles. And the ones I won’t complete, I will do burpees. All thirty of them. And I will keep going.
Spartan Race was not going to give me my DNF.
What is this magical DNF, you may ask? What makes it so freaking difficult?
Why do YOU make it so freaking difficult, Solo, when dozens of racers happily DNF multiple times a season? (hi, David!).
The more I raced, the more picky I became. Just any DNF would not do.
Here are the criteria for my perfect DNF:
1. Medical drop does not count.
I have never had to withdraw from a race for medical reasons – although I came close in my first ultra. However, if I had to – it would not “count” as my perfect DNF. Too easy.
I am not talking about developing a blister or getting scratched up in a barbed wire crawl. But I am not one to “heroically” finish a race on a twisted ankle. If I am injured, I drop from the event – it’s as simple as that.
2. An event that far exceeds my current training does not count.
I am not looking for a DNF for the sake of DNF. Once again, that would be too easy.
I can sign up to do an IronMan in the spring, sit on my ass all winter and DNF. I can sign up for a 10 mile open water swim, and DNF after almost drowning a mile in. I have never been a fan of signing up for something way out there just to see “how far I can make it”. I sign up for scary shit, then train my ass off.
3. An event that capitalizes on an obvious weakness does not count.
Winter Death Race. I have no doubt that I would DNF that race. I do not need to attempt a race to know that I fucking hate the cold. I get cold before everybody else, and start shaking as a leaf. Dropping from a winter event due to hypothermia hardly represents “pushing your body and your mind to the limit”.
I don’t do well with combining racing and any extreme tests of the digestive system. Drink a beer, run a mile, drink a beer? No, thanks. Eat a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, then run a race? Not quite the DNF I am looking for.
2015 will be the year of DNF.
And I found the race worthy of my DNF virginity. All this time – I have been saving myself. And she… is… perfect…
Am I ready? What a stupid question. Of course, I am not ready. That’s why I am coming.
See you in Nicaragua, Solo