Race To The King Ultra
86km, 11hr 41min 12 sec. Zone 4 5:10, Z3 5:37, Z2 38’, Calories: 10130 kcal, Fat Burn: 48%, Running Index: Very Good 49
The run is beginning to feel like it happened a while ago, but I have been reflecting a lot on it since it took place last Saturday. I am rarely asked by others about why I participate in ultra marathons, but I find myself asking that question very frequently. Why do I put my body and mind through such challenges, and why do I keep at it? I am beginning to wonder if I will ever have an answer, and even more so as I find out something new about myself in each event.
I have played many sports throughout my life and continue to dabble in a few to this day, but long distance running is the one that has most successfully allowed me to "access" myself. Perhaps it is the duration of the events, the fact that it is not a team sport and that the only way to really train for the races (at least in my case) is to do them.
I do not have the time, space or landscape in which to properly prepare myself for these events. They take place in a variety of locations, at different times of the year and so each offers its unique sets of challenges such as weather, altitude, terrain and length (in time as well as distance). Only by actually doing them and doing them regularly am I able to prepare for them. While I have a solid running foundation I did not train adequately to actually feel on the day like I could (or should) compete in the event, yet it was my best run to date.
On the surface of why I run an ultra are some more obvious reasons:
- Because I can, and because there will come a day when I won't be able to.
- To show off, yes, there is a bit of ego involved.
- To give myself something to look forward to, and a reason to train somewhat seriously with a looming deadline.
- To prove (to myself and others) that I can run these distances on plant based foods, whole foods that include a lot of raw foods and fruit.
What was unique about this run, however, and I think it is what saw me through the event without hitting a wall or doubting myself was that it allowed me to shed a lot of anxieties that I have been carrying with me for some time.
I will spare you the details, but it felt as if, in running, I could choose to remember my life outside the run, to think about it, feel involved in it, observe it detachedly, or step outside of it altogether and just concentrate on the moment, free of the ticking away of time, of past and present, and just run.
Despite the event taking place at the end of June, the weather was autumnal and it rained a lot making the trail very muddy in parts and flooded in others. At first I tried to sidestep any puddles, and eventually gave up as it was a futile attempt but, most importantly, I was starting to have fun. I was giddy with excitement as I splashed through kilometres of streams of muddy water more than ankle deep (if only Little Boy Green knew- he'd be so envious at the sight of Daddy frolicking in all that mud). Squishy cloudy thick water. With each footfall, not caring whether I could possibly be more wet, a little bit of anxiety was washed away.
Since Baby Green was born 8 weeks ago, it has been tough in the Green residence. We have all been overtired, emotional and struggling to adjust to the changes a new life brings (Mrs Green aptly refers to us being "shell shocked" at the reality of having two).
For the first time ever, just two nights after the run, Little Boy Green held my hand as he fell asleep and asked that I spend the night with him in bed together (sans maman). This made me very, very happy. I am not sure if this has to do with living in the age of Aquarius and the universe has been in perfect alignment for this to take place, or if it has to do with my aura post ultra, as someone who has been freed of negativity and defeat and one replaced with a better sense of self. Of course life would have worked out and adjusted itself to our new and improved family, but I doubt whether I would have been able to fully recognise how good life really is and how much better it could be, had I not run the 86km.
The lesson I have learned is that as the days go by, the sense of weightlessness felt during the run will fade unless I take away the most important message from the ultra: To remain present, focus on the activity at hand and proceed one step at a time, eyes diverted from instruments of measurement (digital or otherwise) and remember that, like the run, life is an endurance sport.
For Little Boy Green.