Saturday, April 27, 2013

The suffering

So it has clearly been a while.

A lot of things have happen both at work and privately. I've found it harder to get the amount of running done that I would like to. Most days I've been the one turning the lights off at the office and my girls growing up needs their dad to be present just as much as I need them.

I recently ran my third official ultra. 60k from one corner of Bornholm to the opposite. Parts of my performance was great but mentally I wasn't ready .. by far.

During winter I had lost my team of 5 employees. People I had worked with for years and whom I trusted to solve any task and face any problem with me. But due to a number of different reasons I had found myself suddenly alone. These had been my friends as much a colleagues and the unwanted solitude hit hard. Perhaps harder than I realize even now many months later.

The ultra was my first official race for half a year and hadn't it been because of a dear friend of mine (SLG) I wouldn't even had joined it. Most of my runs had been short'ish (20-35k) and had been run in solitude and at  what ever pace felt good that day. Running an official race and paying for it .. had seemed a waste of time and money. Put on the shoes and run out the front door to return 2 hours later was the type of running that made sense for me.

I traveled to the race with SLG and her husband SR in their car and we even stayed a the same 'motel' during the race (not the same room!). What a lovely couple! They are clearly nerdy when it comes to running (and life in general) but something about them made me feel at peace.

It was great being away from home (and work) and being with people of a kindred spirit (not just SLG and SR but all the people we meet).

So what happened a the race .. well. I fucked up. When I ran I ran and did it great. But I didn't handle the problems I met all that well. I ran in my minimalistic shoes (New Balance Minimus MT10) and 15k in I managed to kick the bedrock. Instantly it left like I had broken a toe and even though I kept running it kept bugging my consciousness for the next 10k .. instead of just ignoring it. After 30k I meet 'the wall' and started feeling the transition from burning sugar to burning fat. I really need to get better filling my body with food/energy during the run. Later I started getting stomach cramps and feeling a painful jolt to the stomach with every step I ran. Instead of just ignoring the pain and make a fight of it I gave into it and tried to ease it away by walking and eating some fruits I had brought with me.

When I entered the only aid station at 38k my stomach was killing me and I used a shitload of time eating and drinking before hitting the trail again.

For the next 10-15k I was flying but then .. instead of fighting my way through the last 5-10k I eased them out by slowing to a walk far too often .. especially when I had become lost (which happened a bit too often).

When I finally made it to the finish line I wasn't really a happy camper. I felt everything sucked and couldn't really remember why but blamed my energy intake and the lack of markings. My Garmin said that out of the more than 8 hours (nearly 9) I had used .. I hadn't been moving for nearly an hour.

The next day I went on a spontaneous 9k run with some of the others (most of them top 10) and felt great. Something told me that if I could feel this great the day after feeling that bad mentally. I probably hadn't pushed myself hard enough physically.

Running 9k in jeans, jacket and 3 layers of shirts. (photo by SR)

In the days after I got home doing runs where I really pushed myself physically .. to remind myself that suffering is OK even for km after km.

I've set a couple of PR's lately.

None the less I in no way fell ready for my first 100 mile race which is taking place in less than a week. I have however committed myself to run and keep running until being cut. I can't imaging that I'll be able to reach the finish line in time since last year only 4 people did but I'm ready to reset what suffering really is.


  1. The first few ultras a person runs are about learning. At least for me- I also "fucked up" a number of my fists attempts. But, remember, though it didn't go as you expected, you finished a tough race. You kept going despite not feeling great - and that is what will make you an awesome ultra runner. It was a great weekend, wasn't it? So glad you could come along! Now, don't let work stress you out :0). Enjoy Hammer Trail!