Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three DNFs

You know, I struggled with this post. There are no less than 5 drafts entitled "DNF" or "Marsh Creek Fail" or some variation of's silly how much I struggled with this.
Then I started wondering what the big deal is.
Who I am writing this to?
Or for?
I write the blog for myself, first, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about it. I'm not sure who the "audience" is outside of the handful of people I know personally (or the "blog-friends" I've made over the years like Rachael and Neil). If you're a reader, by all means introduce yourself. I'd love to know how you got here or why you return.
(can you tell this post is already making me uncomfortable?)
I didn't finish my race last night and I had such mixed feelings about explaining why or what happened.
Here is my best attempt (and a brief history of the races I failed to finish).  

Where: Sewell
When: 2008 (my inaugural season as an Expert)
Why: broken hand
I crashed hard and I don't remember how it happened. I remember going down scary-hard and scary-fast. I remember lightning bolts of pain in my head and my left hand. I also remember the panic I felt as Lauri and Loretta caught up and assessed me...I spazzed. "Just go. I'll catch up, I'm fine!"
I remember hopping on my bike, quickly aware that I could not move my left hand at all, let alone squeeze the brake lever. Big deal, I won't use the front brake.
I remember shock setting in and quick and sudden chills. I don't remember getting out of the woods, but I vaguely remember handing my bike over to Blake and Karen as I was ushered into the ambulance. "Somebody tell my dad. AFTER his race."
I do remember the lights flickering in the hospital as a nasty thunderstorm brewed outside. I remember the woman in the bed across from me writhing in pain and yelling for drugs. She was trying to kick a recreational Oxycontin habit. "Do you have anything? If they give you something strong, I want it," she said to me. That hospital was scary. I was bummed about my first DNF. I wanted to get out of my sweaty kit. I wanted to get back on my bike and I didn't want my hand to be broken.

Where: Charm City Cross Day Two
When: 2010
Why: stomach bug
In a most unremarkable move, I pulled off course and promptly found a ditch where I could puke my guts out in peace. My first race as a CAT2/Elite found me in the back of the pack, barely hanging on to Lisa's wheel. I didn't have time to think or calm myself or make sense of anything. I just knew I was going to be very very sick in a hurry and made myself scarce lest anyone witness my puketastic display.
I rode back to the car and cried like a baby for quitting my first race of the season, for my first DNF in a cross race, for sucking and not having the chance to settle in and catch back on, for making my dad wait around for hours for my race when I knew full well that I wasn't feeling right and probably shouldn't have even lined up in the first place...
then, got over myself when I realized I had a long and meaningful season ahead of me
(ha...if I had only known...)

Where: Marsh Creek Midnight In Milford Mills
When: last night
Why: because I am not as stubborn as I used to be, I guess...
I am not going to dwell on the fact that I bailed on a race that was going very well for me.
I felt strong and confident and eager to ride, eager to be competitive.
I was perfectly happy with how I was riding, with how my race was playing out.
I had a really great, really joyful moment out there as I careened downhill towards the ruins, a crazy-loud gaggle of kids screaming and cheering...I was loving this race and I was having fun.
I was also keenly aware of what was going on in my head, literally.

Friday night, I was violently sick after dinner.
I woke up Saturday with the familiar warning signs of an impending migraine (a fuzzy/tingly feeling in my jaw that creeps up the side of my face, almost like a's always the first sign for me).
I was reluctant to take anything, knowing I'd be racing later that night.
Saturday afternoon was spent drinking lots of fluids, relaxing, and trying to keep race nerves in check.

I didn't say anything to Bill because I didn't want to write off my race before it even happened. I also didn't want him to worry, as he was racing, too.
As we staged in the field, Amy said, "You're awfully quiet."
I was quiet.
I was fighting a headache that I was pretty sure wasn't an ordinary headache.
I didn't want to be the girl at the start line complaining about ailments or making excuses.
I just wanted to turn my lights on and ride fast.

I had an awesome lap and called it a night after sixty very self-satisfying minutes on the trail.
For once, I actually heeded the voice of reason in my head and trusted my insticts. 
It ended up being the right decision because by three in the morning, I was in the throes of a full-blown migraine.
If I had gone out for another lap, I surely would have been leveled today.

Three years ago, I'm certain I would have gone on. I would have finished the race no matter what.
I'm okay with that.
Things are different (and better) now.

Three DNFs.

Here's hoping that's it for a while.


Becky said...

Soooo glad that you had fun on your lap and are looking at the strength you showed as an athlete last night. Well done, Kim. :-)

If it makes you feel any better, I'm already at 4 DNFs. 2 mechanicals and 2 illness - the latter both in the same weekend earlier this year. What was I thinking?

The Bike Nazi said...

Kim, it's Angie. When you posted on mine, I found yours. I like reading it because it's real. I like the fragmented thoughts, sometimes written as a list, much like thoughts that pass through the head. Very refreshing. I find writing a blog, not always knowing who your audience is, showing your vulnerability, is very freeing. It helps me to just relax and know that even if I let people into my secret thoughts, it's not that big a deal because everyone has them and understands them anyway. I think you raced great. You're a strong climber.

k. francis said...

those are tough moments, kim, but you definitely made a good choice. sometimes competition gets in the way (not just for you, for all racers), but you are most surely getting wiser :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kim. I found your blog when a friend posted it on his. I come back because I'm a wannabe mtb girl. Even DNFs impress me. ; )

Kim said...

awesome, thanks, Anonymous...appreciate the comment and by all means, keep coming back (and let me know if you ever parlay your wannabe status into actual mtbing...that would be rad)!