The day before

Unlike other shorter-distance running events, and surprisingly somewhat, there is quite a number of things to take care of. Food, drinks, clothing for the trip and for the run, navigation to get to the registration spot, head torch for the night running, change of shoes, etc. I have almost thought of setting up a ToDo list.

Am I ready? Not sure. Probably not. I will know afterwards what could have been done better. Slowly everything else crosses the boundary beyond the margins of my attention. My mind slowly focuses on just one and only thing. The run. This is a huge mental “detox” I guess. Like a flush. All mental clutter has to leave the head, and it will, perhaps not before the start of the event, but definitely before the end. Clarity. And emptiness. Perhaps it is this emptiness that I fear the most.

Like being completely naked. There will be nothing to hold on to, everything will be thought through million times, and there will be nothing else to think about. Life analyzed over and over, from the beginning and all the way to the end. Emptiness. Clarity? Not sure about the latter.

Is it possible to experience something that cannot be communicated to others, and for just few people to be experiencing it and “sharing” the insights about the experience? Or is it more about a shared “illusion”, rather than true experience of something unique? How can these two be distinguished?

I had quite a good night sleep tonight. Not too stressed. But my heart rate has risen a bit. The leap to the unknown is probably taking its toll.

Next post will be from the other side… I will become a slightly different person. Something will break. Something will change. Somethings will never be the same.

 

 


2 days left

I’ve picked up my blood tests today. Everything is just fine. Sugar, iron, blood morphology, and cholesterol all in perfect shape. Blood pressure 116/74. Resting heart rate in the morning a bit elevated after yesterday’s run – 56. But it should drop down to high 40s in the next day or two. I have difficulties sleeping and relaxing – thinking too much about the event.

I think the night and waiting for the sunrise are going to be the hardest part, most likely. The lack of sleep, the exhaustion, and the mental challenge of continued running. Not sure I am mentally well-prepared. Physically perhaps. Mentally? We shall see.

As easy the usual running trainings and events are, preps for this race are getting harder and harder. All the decisions about the strategy, food, and fluid intake. What to prepare? What will I want to eat during the race? What will I do not want? Energy bars? Protein bars? Gels? What drinks? Hot drinks like soups? I have no idea. Clothing is also a bit of mystery – normally shorts and t-shirt are fine but running through the night might require warmer clothing. How about chaffing? Should I tape my feet? How?

I’m slowly getting ready, but there are things that I’m not so sure about, and things I would rather have sorted before the race, rather than dealing with them during the race. Anyway, most of the shopping has been done today. One more day here at my parents place and then on Friday, my sister and I will travel to the event.

It is interesting to observe how slowly many mundane things from life are getting pushed aside, and the event takes the central place in my thinking and in my focus. I guess it might be partially a survival reflex. For a brief moment of my life, everything else will cease, and for the few hours, which will undoubtedly stretch towards lifetime, I will be alone with myself and my thoughts and nothing else will exist, beyond the few elements of reality around me, few people and the constant running. Life simplified to bare minimum. To survival. And to persistence, endurance and tenacity.

Tenacity. I will understand more about this word in 2 days time.

 


11 days left

I am in. Bieg Kukuczki is now on my “todo” list, and occupies a lot of my thinking. The official participant page includes now my name. Sinking feeling. Yup, I’m getting more unsettled. The enormousity of the undertaking of running for 24 hours is slowly dawning on me. I clock 120-140km per week. PER WEEK. Now it will have to be squeezed to just a single run. A week is a lot of time. I can sleep, eat, rest. Doing something in a week is not a good proxy for doing something in a single day. 140km is the minimum distance to become qualified in the race.

I’m worried about the physical aspects, such as pain, and the various injuries, less or more serious, that may result as a consequence of undertaking this challenge. During the previous 12h, 100km race, I had quite a badly swollen feet and I hope this will not happen here. I am definitely better prepared this time. Perhaps even prepared for 100km race, but, 24h is definitely “beyond”, out there, in the spectrum of things that I can manage mentally in my head. I will not know what it is and how it feels like if I do not try.

The other thing I am worried about is my head. Spending 24hours just with myself, my thoughts, and the continuous physical challenge seem haunting. One possible solution to put my mind into some alternative place would be to get some audiobook. What would be a good book to “read” during an event like that? I thought about some of travel/expedition/climbing/adventure book.

Any suggestions?

 


14 days left

So comes the challenge. 14 days left. 24 hours of running.

I’m afraid. Of many things. Yes, I am afraid of feeling pain. A bit. But mostly spending so much time alone. I know there will be none there with me, during the run, and I know I will crave human contact to the limits of my capacities. I hope the other runners will be sufficient company to keep me going.

It feels irrational, but time in extreme circumstances stretches. It feels longer. I still remember the final 30minutes or so of the last marathon. “I now have to lift my leg. It is so hard, extremely hard. I have to help with my arms, and upper body, tense all the muscles, to lift my foot. It is so hard. I feel pain in so many places around my body. It is so hard. But lets do it!” This thinking and routine repeats about 2-3 times a second, 120-160 times a minute. Extreme.

My biggest mental-physical challenge to date was probably cycling up Khardung La (polish) with my brother. Breathtaking scenery, uplifting views of Karakorums and the excruciating headache, combined with inability to breath and put physical effort of cycling uphill.

My running jersey is stiff of sweat. I have visited friends yesterday for dinner, finished at 20:30, put my shoes on and run 20km. No problems. Woke up today and run 12km with 2kgs weights on my ankles. I’ve run 450km in September. I never felt so fit. Am I ready? I do not think so. I do not know how it feels to be prepared for such a long endurance event.