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The Many Faces of DNF: Log week of Sep 7

DNF: Did Not Finish. That was/is my final status at the 2015 Imogene Pass Run. I don’t take dropping out of races lightly. In fact, in 49 years of running it’s happened less than a half a dozen times. My drop out rule is simple: if I am hurt to the point where I believe I will be doing considerable damage by continuing, I MIGHT drop out.

This year I reached mile 6 of the 10 mile uphill that begins the 17+ mile journey from Ouray to Telluride in pretty good shape. Clicking off 12 and 13 minute miles, my legs felt okay, my spirits were good. Then, very quickly, my back began to tighten. By seven miles it was spasms. At the Upper Bird station, I was determined to press on knowing that with the top, came the downhill (and I LOVE running downhill). Very quickly, it became walk five steps, stop and stretch my back; walk five steps, stop and stretch my back; repeat, repeat, repeat. After 8 miles I couldn’t even walk. It was time to stop. I walked back down to the aid station where a wonderful fellow with massage therapy experience tried to do a little magic. When after some maneuvering, he said, “There’s a knot or bulge in here that’s huge,” I decided to stop for good. Sorry IPR, not this time.

DNF: Did Not Finish. But also:

Start line serious

DNF = Did Not Focus. My lack of race experience over the past decade shows. Not having much recent racing has left me without the proper pre-race rituals in place. I’ve been forgetting little things prior to races and this time it was Advil. And I sure could have used some Advil. I also picked the wrong hydration pack wearing the vest instead of the waist one. Never really felt comfortable in it.

DNF = Did No Fast. I’ve run a lot of miles in the buildup to this Run. The problem is that while I have a nice base, I have nothing beyond that. No hard hills, no tempo runs, nothing to really prepare me for hard running or the discomfort that is the result of tough workouts.

DNF = Did Not Flex. I began this “serious” running with a consistent routine of strength and core work. It lasted about a month then went to the wayside. So did stretching. If I truly want to be a trail/mountain runner, I need to be stronger and more flexible in my core. When in distress, the biggest issues arise in your weakest places.

Steep in the 6th mile

DNF = Did Not Face. I did not face reality. One of the downsides of 49 years of running is that I have a long past, full of some pretty good performances. Unfortunately, I often evaluate this Rich against younger, faster Rich. Unrealistic expectations are worse than none.

DNF = Did No Fun. I had little or no fun in the week prior to this Run. Doubt and apprehension ruled the days leading up to the start. It needs to be excitement and fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be overly tough on myself or dwell on the negative. I’m just trying to take a realistic, analytical look at what went wrong so that I am armed with the information I need IF I am truly wanting to be a serious racer. The other option is to be an old guy who participates in races with little or no expectations. Enough said about that.

Let’s move on.

Never quite made it to the top

On the upside, I finished the week with 70 miles, and ran “with” Emelie Forsberg, (, saw some GORGEOUS scenery in Ouray and Telluride, met some very nice people, and didn’t do any unrepairable damage along the way. Can’t beat that, I guess.

Run on.

4 thoughts on “The Many Faces of DNF: Log week of Sep 7”

  1. This was my fourth and worst IPR with a finish nearly 90 minutes slower than last year. I entered the race ill-prepared and with apprehension. My only consolation is that I did finish and have next year to look forward to.

  2. Really respect your honesty. I did the IPR in 94 and swore I would never do it again. Did it again in 2015, but was very stressed and not having much fun the week leading up. Better preparation and training would have certainly helped. Great write up Mark! Rudy Maez from Northern NM

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