I haven’t written an update on my triathlon efforts lately, so I think it’s time for some catching up. In case you aren’t familiar with what DNF and DNS stand for, here’s a little Tri education. A DNF is dreaded. You do not want to have it listed beside your name on a race results list. It means “Did Not Finish.” Almost everyone who races has had one or will have. The tri world is super supportive when someone else gets one, but when it’s labeling your race, whether we admit it or not, it hurts. It’s a disappointment, no matter how supportive others will be about it. I had my first DNF this last May at the Santa Rosa Ironman 70.3. Insert sad face here.
A DNS doesn’t make an athlete very happy either. The sting of a DNS may be a little less painful depending on the situation and the perspective of the athlete, but yeah, I would have to say, I still dread those, as well. A DNS means, “Did Not Start.” The athlete never even gets to toe the start line. I had at least a few of those this year. After you put out cash for a race, invest in gear, training and travel… Insert another sad face here.
It’s this seemingly, perpetually injured body that’s caused me to have to cross races off my calendar this past year, thus the DNS labels listed by my name on race rosters. Arthritis in the spine, impinging the sciatic nerves and affecting everything else down the chain, is the root issue. I don’t want to get into all of that, though. I hate to talk about my health issues. It seems I spend enough time talking to doctors, so I’d rather stay positive here.
The DNF listed by my name was for the Santa Rosa Ironman 70.3 in May. I invested in the race, the gear, did the training and traveled to get to the start line. It felt really good to finally be back in a race. It was a cold, windy morning, not my ideal race conditions, for sure. I managed to make the swim cut off time, even after having to stop several times because the cold water affected my asthma and I couldn’t breathe. I seriously considered having a boat take me into shore, but with rest stops, I was able to keep going. I was so happy when I got out of that water, though!
After the swim, racers had to run up a long and very steep boat ramp to get to the transition area where our bikes were waiting. My body isn’t able to regulate temperature properly, so when I get cold, it’s no joke. it’s difficult to get warm again. I needed to be warm for the bike portion of the race. I needed my body to stop shaking and my fingers to have feeling so I could shift gears and brake, especially on that first curvy, two-mile downhill stretch with a sharp turn at the bottom. After the swim, my fingers were so cold, I couldn’t zip on my dry jersey or stop shaking enough to do much of anything I needed to be doing right then. As a result, my transition time was way too long. The bike course was really hilly with more climbing than I had ever done. Because of my bad knees, I had avoided hills in training, hoping I would still somehow make it in the race. Between the cold, the hills and my stops at every aid station to take off a layer of clothing, I missed the bike cut off time by six minutes. I finished that whole bike course, only to pull up to the dismount line and have the race director meet me, take a picture of my helmet and race number, rip off my timing chip and tell me I was done. DNF! My first DNF! And I hope, my last DNF!
I did have one other DNS, since the Santa Rosa half Iron. That was in July when I was supposed to do my first full Ironman, again in Santa Rosa. And again, due to injury, I didn’t even get to start. I did have one race finish this year and that was the Chula Vista Triathlon in August. I was able to complete my first 100 mile bike ride in September, the Amtrack Century, complete with it’s California hills, including the Tory Pines climb! I thought I was going to die on that, but thankfully, the ice cream they served at the top saved me.
I’ve got one more race on the calendar this year, my “A” race, Arizona Ironman. In 25 days, 14 hours and 48 minutes from right now, I’ll be toeing another start line. I’m trying really hard to stay focused and positive. I don’t think that staying positive means that you deny that you have an issue. Being positive is moving in a forward direction regardless of what’s trying to hold you back. It’s being fully aware of the circumstances surrounding your situation, but not allowing the negative to overwhelm you. It’s guarding your heart, mind and thoughts from controlling your situation and bringing you to defeat. It’s knowing who you are and being confident in that. I might feel fear, but it isn’t going to stop me from what it is I need to accomplish. I’ll do it afraid.
So, right here I’m not denying these ongoing body issues are fighting me with a vengeance right now. My back and the sciatica have my hip and hamstring all fired up. I’m in treatment, and trying to get injections scheduled as soon as possible, hopefully in time to help. I haven’t been able to walk without limping this past week. There, I’ve said it. I know what my circumstances are and the challenges they present to my ultimate goal. BUT, I’m not going to focus on that. I’m not going to let that stop me at this point. No, I don’t intend to be stupid about it, but at the same time, I know that I have 25 days, 14 hours and 47 minutes to do all I can to get ready for that race. I won’t focus on the fact that I can’t even walk right now. I can still swim and bike, so I’ll just move my focus. When the negative thoughts come, I fight back with the truth of what I can do. Yes, I feel pain, so I’m doing all I can do to help my body recover and get stronger.
Our time is valuable. Our bodies are valuable. Our minds are valuable. It requires a fight to keep discouragement and defeat at bay when circumstances threaten to rob us of whatever it is we chase. Allowing any negative thought to take up that valuable piece of real estate in your mind, hurts you. You give your power to the negative, the dark side, so to speak. When you fight back with the truth, what was negative can actually make you stronger. This applies to many areas in life, not just my race. I can’t afford to waste my time, my thoughts or my health, by not doing all I can do to fight back, and neither can you.
I use this a lot, but I truly believe it. #ificanyoucan People have said that I’ve inspired them. That’s really nice and I appreciate the support and encouragement! At the same time, I feel inspiration is useless if it doesn’t lead to action and change. Maybe triathlon isn’t for you, but better health, more exercise, being more positive, more courageous, fulfilling your purpose, those are things we can move toward, things we need to be able to fight for.
So, for the next 25 days, 14 hours and 47 minutes, you know what I will be doing. Of course, I’ll be praying a lot, too. I know I can’t do anything without divine help. If you want to toss some prayers into the hat for me, I’ll appreciate it much. I want to hear whole words, not letters, associated with my name. It’s what I hope to be my birthday present for my 60th year of living on this earth, words blasting from the speakers as I run down that finisher’s chute and across that line, “Bobbi Spargo, YOU! ARE! AN! IRONMAN! The fight’s on! #ificanyoucan #IMAZ