How does it feel…?

… to run 100km?

Well, it does takes time to comprehend it- that’s for sure. That happened both during the run (think I only got it around 85km that I am actually running my first Ultra ūüėČ ), as well as now, almost 3 weeks afterwards- as you can see by this slightly delayed blogpost.

How does it feel to finally do something, you were thinking of doing every single day, for almost a year?

Well, let me start maybe exactly there, one year ago:

I¬†had just started to train for the Berlin Marathon, it was early June 2014. I must say, I had finally started training, as it was pretty much the only structured and reliable thing in my life that summer. I went out in the morning for a slightly longer run. The night before I had have one of my last of 10 rolfing sessions and I felt strong as a runner and happy in my successful 2 year long transition to forefoot running. I remember coming home, just ready to stretch, when (most likely on FB) a notification popped up that registration for the London2Brighton 2015 is open. And that was it. As I said before- the idea of leaving London behind and running towards the sea… magical, unimaginable 100km- well, 2 min later I received the confirmation email.

It’s been a nice process to slowly read up on things, get my kit together (so I did most of my long runs for the Berlin marathon already in the absolutely brilliant Salomon Ultramaraton vest), read up on trainingsplans (and get properly confused- aka ditch them all in the end and luckily also manage to speak to some more experience Ultramarathon runners.

It’s been a long year and a lot of the details and up and downs (in relation to getting ready for the Ultra, hello there dear knee!) I mentioned already in previous posts. So maybe here some bits and bobs and the biggest surprises and expectations (or what happened to it):

  • -An idea that this will be extremely structured training, strict trainingsplan (otherwise, how do you know what the heck you’re doing as a newbie?), many back2back sessions and the longest run about 65km.

Reality: swapping around of traningsplans, ditching them soon all, very short back2back and only one very long run (over 9h out in the Northdowns) that was only 55km in ridiculous mud and crazy hilly.

  • Trails will be challenging and maybe not my thing………..

Turns out that I absolutely love them. Feel like a little kid again on my horse through the forest… absolutely love this discovery!

  • Impermanence is challenging…= well it turns out, when you start ‘panicking’ 30km¬†¬†into a 100km run about a stupidly painful/stiff hip,¬†impermanence¬†does come in rather handy. After 40km it was gone and never came back ūüėČ

On a serious note though- I read it many times and it is just so true: Just cause something feels uncomfortable, hurts, etc. does not mean that it will stay that way. When you’re 15h out there running, like on most days, things come and go and the day does come with it’s usual up and downs… and that includes any physical pain.

  • I love running. And in reality: I looooove running! Especially at 92km I just felt¬†so in love with this simplicity and beauty of my sport.
  • I expected it to be harder. To maybe want to give up, or be fed up with it. Or encounter real issues or challenges (aka throwing up, blood blisters and all the other beautiful things described on social media). Well and in reality it worked out just so bloody well. Equipment, nutrition etc was spot on. Not even a single blister (at my first Marathon I had around 3 per foot!).
  • Expected to eat gels, gels and more gels. And in the end I had literally 1 gel for the entire race. Main food was: A good breakfast of porridge & Banana, a bar & cup of tea just before the start around 5:30am, during the run: nothing for the first 2h, then ¬†every 30-60min around half a bar or small¬†potato¬†(cooked in very salty water) and pieces of gluten free bread with peanut butter. Had a bit of gluten free pasta at 56km (that did not go down that well) and a warm meal straight after the race (that did not like me much… and had to go. I spare you details). There was an aid station around every 10miles, so I tried to drink around 1l of water/electrolytes between each aid station.

And maybe in the end a couple of more things about the race0 and of course especially a huge thank you for all the volunteers that made it possible. It is extremely well organised and signposted that even a spaced out little runner like myself that is used to urban jungles, not trails, just can’t miss the right path. Incredible effort has been put into the aid stations (ripe pineapple!! Amazing discovery and just so refreshing during the run), super friendly crew… everything in a way that made it possible to be just 100% focused on running. I absolutely loved that ūüôā

In hindsight I would try and lose a lot less time at aid station. Especially the ‘lunch’ stop at 56km cost me 50!!! min. And the food I had there (talking again about the organisation: they even had gluten free pasta!) was too much for my¬†struggling stomach anyway and kept me feeling¬†sick-ish for the next hour of the run. It was really nice though to change into a fresh shirt and socks and have a can of Diet Coke (I do know my weird¬†cravings¬†by now on long runs)

The biggest surprise and most amazing part was to be able to share this run with someone. To run side by side (or rather behind each other on the narrow trails) and run through the finish hand in hand. It was completely dark by then. We had hardly spoken for the last 2h, just focused on moving forward and trying to get through those last 15km and support each other as good as we could. By saying that the Ultra was easier than I had expected, I mean by now means to say that it was easy. The last hour was tough. Only during the last 2km the finish line was in sight. One could see the bright lights ahead of the Brighton race course. Only then we started talking again.

It’s absolutely ‘mind over matter’ and the incredible support and encouragement of so many friends made a huge difference! At the halfway point I read some of the incredibly supportive messages.

100km is a beautiful, humbling distance.
I will be back.

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