Sometimes life is about lines. The ones that we cross and the ones that we don’t.
I broke into a packet of my precious supply of Mustang (tsampa) biscuits today. And no I wasn’t running hard or fast. But, I did run long. That is, longer than I thought I could. Maybe those biscuits brought with them just a little of the magic and mystery of Mustang!
This morning I crossed a start line, and this afternoon I crossed a finish line. Less than 24 hours passed between deciding to race and reaching that finish line. But, it felt longer with its kaleidescopic medley of emotions, uncertainties, doubts, pain and effort.
From the outside it might have appeared to be an ‘off day’, well over an hour slower than I would have expected to run, had all things been equal.
But all things were not equal.
I had tears in my eyes crossing that finish line in 5th place, and probably felt more emotion than when I set the course record back in 2006. This was one start line I wasn’t sure I should be on. I was uncertain if the foot would hold. Or if the legs could carry me. Or if the mind would be strong enough. Or if I’d even make it through those fast early kilometres of tarmac and out of town, let alone the rest. The healing of that stress fracture that was so unequivocal in its demands has remained a little too tenuous for comfort.
My plan was (thanks, Rich); to imagine I’d written on the back of my t-shirt “recovering from a stress fracture, please pass me to the right”, to take photos, to talk a lot at the refreshment points, to have fun, to walk a lot, to enjoy having company around me.
The reality? I felt the foot a lot during the first half, and with the recent hiatus in training, caution dictated a slower than normal pace. But, the legs could still carry me. And the head and the heart wanted to pull on towards that finish line. So it went … step, by step, by step.
It hurt. It wasn’t easy. But I ran harder than I thought I would be able to.
Just one short week ago my broken ribs were still giving enough pain to wake me from sleep, my legs were aching from 2 hour uphill hikes, and I probably hadn’t run even 8 km at a stretch. Three days before the race I’d tested myself with a walk run of 50 km. With considerably less of the running than the walking, it has to be said, and taking an unmentionable number of hours, due in part to copious amounts of very necessary ‘rock sitting’ and ‘crumpled heap staring at the sky lying’. Not exactly confidence building. Neither was it adhering to conventional ideas of tapering. But after all you can’t really ‘taper’ from near to nothing? And, at that point, racing was the furthest thing from my mind.
So, I’m not entirely sure from which ‘bag’ I managed to pull out finishing a 78 km mountain race. But somehow I went beyond what I thought was possible for my body and mind ‘today’.
It is doubtful, but if anyone that was here in Davos happens to read this, then a huge thank you to any of you who gave me a word of support (runner, volunteer or supporter). You may not realise just how much the encouragement means.
To those of you reading at home: please don’t do as I do, do as I say. The 10% rule of increasing intensity or volume is (probably) sensible. Just remember it refers to ‘by the week’, not by the day, or by the hour. I have no idea what I’m doing. I only ever go by ‘feel’. But with the 2013 UTMB fast approaching, I’m willing (within reason) to risk throwing some caution to the winds.
Our limits today may not be where they were yesterday, or where we hope they will be tomorrow. But it is today that counts. And sometimes even in ‘today’ we can go beyond what we think is possible!