I. Did. It.
On February 3rd, I ran further than I have ever done before in one day. At 5am, together with 280 other runners, I set off for the North Face Thailand 100km trail run. An amazing event that was extremely well organised by the competent race organisers of gotorace & sportstatsasia. I had prepared as well as I could for this event and had a surprising calmness over me as we toed the start line. "Bar injury, I will finish this race" was the sentence that kept going through my had. I knew I was in state. I prepared well and there was nothing more to do than to execute the game plan. Go easy in the morning to save some energy for the second loop in the heat of the day.
What helped me stay present in this race were two rhetorical questions that I took from my most recent read The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. "What is the time?" The time is now. "Where are you?" I am here. This mantra helped me to stay in the present moment and prevented me from a detrimental ability of our minds: time-travelling and mind-reading.
We all get these thoughts at times.
"How will I feel when I am here on the second loop?"
"How will I feel 80km into this race?"
"What will my friends think if I can't finish?"
"What will I do if I run out of water before an aid station?"
All these questions are not helpful in dealing with the present issue of getting through the race. Every time I caught myself having one of these thoughts, I asked myself my two guiding questions: Where am I & What time is it?
Another key learning point that I take away from this event is that there is power in human connections. The second loop, I ran together with an experienced ultra-marathoner. We never pushed it to the point of cramps an in helping and looking out for one another, we shifted the focus from our own efforts to the efforts of the other. This way, compassionate and competitiveness went hand in hand. We both achieved a better time by keeping an eye out for each other. This reminded me of a great TED talk by Christopher MacDougall, author of the book Born To Run.
After finishing the event, 13 hours and 8 minutes after crossing the starting line, I had the lovely experience of how our mind is so much stronger than our body. Allowing myself to finally relax, the body decided that it was time for some payback. Shivering and in a mild state of shock, I got myself back to my room. Thankful for all my friends present at the event, I was unable to be social anymore after this event.
My final lesson of this event is that now my parameters for running have shifted. First, 10k seems long, 21.1 very far, a marathon endless... Now my new parameter is that a 100k is doable. What is next? I do not know. I am here and the time is now.