DNS (Did Not Start): The Best Thing To Happen To Me


DNS (Did Not Start or Did Not Show) is when you’ve already registered but did not show up in the starting line.

Hello there. Who am I? There are two of me. First is your former competitive swimmer for over 15 years, former SEA Games participant, and a current triathlon enthusiast.

The first Lia is the one in love with sports. The Lia that would love anything that involves sweating and moving around. How active am I? Being active is not a hobby anymore for me; it’s my passion and lifestyle. If a place is 2 kilometers away, you bet I’d rather walk it than spend 8 pesos for a jeepney ride or how I watch TV standing, squatting, or stretching. That’s how being active is incorporated into my life.

The second me is your average girl who is trying to figure out how to adult, gives in to cravings of a bag of chips, eats a barkada-sized bucket of fries, and downs a whole bottle of wine after a stressful week.

Working Lia who has to meet deadlines and write “per our last email…” trying to sound as professional as she can amidst older and more experienced colleagues.

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I used to think that there can only be one of me. That’s why I had a hard time going through my day to day work-socials-trainings-sleep schedule. Active Lia and Working Lia weren’t friends and before I reveal how I was able to marry those two sides of me, I want to share my DNS experience.

Remember how I’ve had years and years of training (competitive swimmer for over 15 years, former SEA Games participant, etc.), so tackling another sport would be relatively easy or easier for me compared to those who didn’t, right? That’s what people kept telling me and that’s what I believed too.

I was complacent. I had all these people around me cheering me on; on how I’ve got this. I was born to do this.


I do not. And truth be told: None of us are.

Why? Complacency is not in the vocabulary of the greats. Every day, they get up, get dressed, and grind.

How do I know this? Been there, done that or at least the downfall of that. I was supposed to compete in my first standard in a multisport event. I did the recon of the bike course and upon finishing a third of the course; I knew I couldn’t do it.

I have never given up in my entire athlete life, but I knew this is the time to throw the towel in. It was a hard pill to swallow, but I had to or else I knew I would be finishing the race injured.

Here are what I learned with my DNS experience:

1. Respect the distance

There is no free pass in the world of sports.

Running, biking, or doing multisport events for X number of years does not give you a pass on putting in time and effort. You can, but shouldn’t. I can, but shouldn’t….and shouldn’t have. I learned this the hard way.

Endurance sports such as running, biking, and triathlon have to be treated like a partner. They will require you to spend time with –for- them, show them your effort, and sometimes, even spend for them.

The effort we put into training will show results come race day. It can be from setting a new PR, finishing a new distance, or to simply feel a sense of accomplishment no matter the results.

For my DNS, I did not give the race enough time and training for me to be able to finish it. As what they say: Don’t be upset about the results you did not get, from the work you did not do.

We always have to prepare no matter how short or easy a race course may seem like. Everyone, respect the distance.

2. Help your self

Now that I was at the lowest of lows, thoughts went through my mind: Do I still keep doing this? Why even? What for?

I picked at all the areas where I could have messed up. I had to reassess myself on mind, body, and soul. First is assessing what’s your weaknesses are.

I have been suffering from a hip injury for more than 3 years now. I was also very tight that I can’t even touch my toes. From there, I was able to connect the dots. I couldn’t push myself in training because of my hip. But never did I once try to address it head-on.

Yes, I had it treated by a PT but that wasn’t a solution, it was a temporary band-aid that will make the pain go away for only a day or two. I have to do something.

Next was mind. I felt pressured on what people were telling me and that didn’t help. I felt like I was in the sport to please and show other people what I can do. But to be honest, I was in tri so that I can continually challenge myself.

I don’t even look at the start list when organizers release it. I allowed others to get into my mind who have no idea of what I go through every day. I have to do something.

Lastly is soul. Active Lia and Working Lia were not friends. I always felt like they were getting in each other’s way. I often felt angry and helpless when the two would clash and blamed the other for the other’s struggles. I didn’t know which one to prioritize. I have to do something.

We may blame our injuries or work or whatnot, but if you think about it, isn’t that like blaming ourselves? No one is going to make my injury go away, people aren’t going to stop telling me what they think, or how work and life will get in the way of each other.

With this, I have decided to help myself and not expect others to do it for me. I need to start researching and doing strengthening exercises for my hip, do meditation when my mind is going to a bad place, and find the perfect balance in life where I can be happy.

Reassessing one’s self enables us to know more of who we are, what we can and cannot do (for now), and what are the things we are willing to do for the things we love. We need to help ourselves because, at the end of the day, it’s you vs you.

3. Surround yourself with love

We often take for granted the people around us. On this race, my dad was also racing. He has been into triathlon for over 4 years. He’s actually my coach and has been giving me workouts every day in preparation for the race.

Day after day, I would find an excuse to say why I can’t train or why I couldn’t finish the sets. He never pressured me into doing something I say I can’t do. I had to sum up all my courage on that morning of the race to tell him, rather text him, that I can’t race. He understood me and that’s what made me have the courage to get back up and push myself.

The day I got back to work, I couldn’t tell my bosses and colleagues that I didn’t race. I just proceeded to say “ok lang” then quickly changed the subject. But I realized that I’m bringing myself down again.

They weren’t asking to belittle me or tell me I was slow. So I talked to a few close friends and told them the truth. They had nothing but love, understanding, and encouragement for me. Aside from realizing having good people around me is a good thing, the DNS experience thought me to……

4. Be Brave

…be brave. The bravest thing I’ve done my entire life has got to be not showing up to that starting line. The second would be telling my friends how I did not race. Lastly would be writing and sharing with you my story: How a former longtime athlete, can’t even finish a standard race. It’s ok to not be able to do certain things….yet.

Be brave in admitting faults and weaknesses because that is when you learn more about yourself.

Be brave in knowing your limits because now that limit is your starting line. Be brave in letting people find out your weaknesses and vulnerabilities because that is when you’ll know who has your best interests in mind. Being brave is the first step to redemption. Now that you’ve admitted all your shortcomings and all your insecurities, it is now time to rebuild yourself.

Be brave for tomorrow. Let’s all be brave for tomorrow. See you soon at the starting line!


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