Reflections on a DNF from Dad

I just read my daughter’s recap of her recent DNF at the Vancouver Half Iron.

It’s difficult for a parent to watch their child suffer…or fail…although less so if it’s in the quest for something difficult…or extraordinarily complex…or reaching for an exceptional level.

…so after seeing my daughter on the run course, walking back, and stopping for a moment to see what was going on, was a quick whirr of emotions and thoughts

…my first was, are you okay?…yes she said…she gave me the quick story of how she had arrived at that point…back/butt hurting…walking now…had already turned around, not finishing the outbound run leg…

…we discussed continuing…she didn’t want to walk for another couple of hours just to finish…_maybe_ under the cut-off time…’and I’m already off course and walking back’

Knowing that complaining body parts can loosen up, that things can change, I checked the time calculation, and yes, if she walked the next 7-8 miles, that was going to take a couple of hours, and we were coming up to 6 hours at that point, so still doable for the 8 hour cutoff…and with a light jog even faster.

Although it was clear that she had lost her ‘will’ to do that…she ‘could have’ kept going…I ‘could have’ walked with her…encouraging a bit more speed…that also has its downside…and ‘really’ a bad idea if she had actually injured something.

My daughter is fiercely independant…and like all high performers, harder on herself than anyone else could ever be.

Walking it in with her Dad…although maybe some weird bonding experience…would not be her…or my…idea of a good time…and in all likelihood more haunting than just packing it in early…she would not want me to give up my race for hers…as I wouldn’t want her to give up hers in the same situation.

So I gave her a hug…told her I loved her…and jogged off to complete my race.

I was left thinking, as I rolled away, hoping that she hadn’t really ‘tweaked’ something going as long as she did, and feeling badly for her, although ultimately with a bit of a smile:

‘that’ll be a wake-up call for training for Ironman Florida…good’.

For you see, my daughter is an exceptional young woman…beautiful both inside and out…and smart and incredibly articulate…and are you kidding me…Ironman…anyone that even dreams of it, never mind completes it…is an incredible, off the charts athlete.

Her first Ironman was 2 years ago, which she finished in 16:35:37…24 minutes and 23 seconds before the midnight cut-off…and gutted out a dehydrated run/jog/walk/shuffle for over 7 hours to do it after swimming 2.4 miles, and biking 112 miles…incredible.

…that my friends, takes a mental toughness that few possess.

So when I stopped to talk to her as she was walking back, and she said that she didn’t want to continue, I knew that wasn’t because she had suddenly lost all the incredible qualities that make her great…I knew that she was, and was going to be, incredibly disappointed…and for that I felt badly…

…but I also had that rising feeling that this would re-energize her…that it would create a new will inside her to get her training on track…that it would be the catalyst to a new level of fitness for her, that will result in a much better outing at Ironman Florida 4 months from now, that may not have been there with the same intensity, as if she had finished, limping in hours later in Vancouver…and for that I smiled

Lisa, I’m sooo proud of you…I love you tons…see you at the starting line in Florida 🙂


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