We've always been a nation that likes to use acronyms. After all we want everything fast and right now from our food that we drive through to get to the messages we send to the oatmeal we microwave, we want it instantly. Please, we don't have time to say all the words we want to say so we shorten them with acronyms. From the sports world there's NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR etc. And growing up in a military family where acronyms fly around like moths to a light bulb, TDY (temporary duty), BOQ (bachelor's officers quarters), HQ & NCO are a few that come to mind quickly.
Now, in this world of instant and text messaging the acronyms are endless: BTW, LOL, OMG, TMI (WTMI - when there's just Way too much information, because, you see, there's too much information and then there's a completely different, higher level of information that's just, well, WAY...).
In the world of triathlon there's an acronym that gives you this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach: D-N-F! DID....NOT....FINISH. My journey into the world of triathlon is really in it's infancy and I've been fortunate enough to have not experienced a DNF. I know many have for various reasons. My Brother-in-law, Trey, who is an Ironman triathlete, gave me a book entitled "Becoming an Ironman". It's a collection of stories from triathletes experiencing their first Ironman distance race (I'll be attempting my first in September in Wisconsin). After reading the forward I went directly to the chapter simply titled "DNF". Some DNFed because they were disqualified, some had bad chicken the night before and their stomachs weren't right the next day and some just did not finish in the allotted time. That, to me, is the most difficult to deal with.
Some explanation is in order. You have 17 hours to complete an Ironman race. If you finish in 17:01 you really did not finish at all but rather received a DNF! That is hard to swallow! After a year or more of planning, preparing, gutting out the miles on the road biking and running and enduring the laps in the pool at 5:30am, sacrificing the good foods you like to eat for yogurt and protein bars, going to bed at 9:30pm so you can get up @ 5a, forking over the cash for the entry fee (north of 4 Ben Franklins, BTW), all the gear required, the different kinds of food, the hotel, travel money, etc., etc., etc., only to endure the entire, grueling day and you don't finish in 17 hours.....DNF!
I know those who do it bring it on themselves. I fully acknowledge that fact. It's masochistic. But it's also why we do it because when you receive an actual time after you finish and not an acronym, it's incredibly rewarding.