The other day I listened to some folks sitting next to me in a bar talking about the cushion covers they were going to put in their formal dining room, renovations they were doing to their bathroom, a brand new car they had bought and how they are trying to stay off chocolate. I actually love chocolate! In fact, I can safely say it was chocolate that played a major role in my first 100km run which I completed recently; a soul-searching, butt kicking, quad screaming, feet tenderising, heart charging and totally mind-blowing 100kms. When I crossed the finish line with my buddies around me, I couldn’t have felt more inspired, relieved, excited and exhilarated if I had tried.
Many have commented that 100kms is awesome but slightly crazy. To me, I treated it with a slice of ignorant bliss and an attitude of ‘just another training run’. True, as the first mother hill loomed above me, I did comment that this type of hill had never been part of any training routine. I did a quick attitude readjustment and decided to just ‘keep going’ and eventually I would reach the top. I also told myself over and over again that ‘I loved hills’. This was my mantra to overcome that often psychological barrier we are faced with, when coping with a steep climb. As the day whizzed by I ran up these steep, gravel covered hills, along a winding ridgeline thick with gum trees and wattles allowing glimpses of the lakes in the distance. The steep downhill sections were treated as gifts giving me some breathing and recovery space before the next climb but my quads were on constant high alert. River crossings, and there were many, provided cool relief for my hot, tender feet and the checkpoints buoyed my spirits with enthusiastic volunteers, bananas, chocolate and water. The day continued on in a haze of walk, shuffle run, laughter, flower spotting, jokes and life stories. The sun was perfectly behaved providing a tiny slice of warmth to keep the chill at bay but not strip me of valuable fluid; the wind cooled me down and the clouds appeared when required as I approached wide-open and unprotected sections. When night did pounce, the moon and stars wrapped me up in a bear hug and refused to let me go despite the plummeting temperatures. Running via torchlight was sensational, exciting and calming all at the same time. You felt cocooned by the reach of the light and could easily focus on only what the light encapsulated and not much more. Your brain focuses so your eyes and, legs and arms can do what is required at that point in the day. Experts have commented that ultra running is not about being a super human or elite athletes but only that you require a certain amount of discipline, planning, awareness of your own body and a chunk of mental toughness. What the experts don’t say is that having some very inspiring friends with you to ‘keep it real’, ‘keep it fun’ and make you laugh is also a great gift.
So at 11.31pm that night when our crew of four crossed the finish line, I felt energised, inspired, very tired and sore. The beer went down a treat; a change of clothes made the world of difference and that general euphoric feeling of accomplishment swam around me like a group of fairies spreading pixie dust. How I was going to sleep that night or feel the next day didn’t matter; all that matter was that unforgettable moment then and there and trust me, there was no other place I wanted to be at that point other than the finish line. It is supposed to be hard because the hard is what makes it so great!