Why go long when you can go ultra-long?
When I signed up for the Sydney Marathon I was thinking to go for a fast time. Then, after running the City to Surf way faster than what my body was ready for, I changed my mind.
It's not that I don't enjoy running on the red-line of my abilities, but I find going fast is not my true calling. It doesn't serve me any good. I get tight and pick up little niggles which ultimately put me at risk of injury and, God forbids, could side line me for a while.
I worked out I could commute to the start line from home, adding around 20km to the marathon. That would make it a solid long training run before my all nighter birthday run in 3 weeks. And for once, I could actually run with others, and use other runners and road closures to keep up motivation, focus and pace.
I left home at 5:30AM and I was at the start line 5 minutes before the gun went off, just in time to say hi to Guy and Steven both aiming for a sub 3 hours.
The first 15km turned out to be quite hard physically and mentally. I was moving well but felt out of focus, the plantar of my right foot was giving me grief and I was thinking "This was not a good idea! I am only 15km in and feeling so tired already!". Then I reasoned that this was nothing more than the "35km wall" and I should get more nutrition in and push through, things would brighten up. I ate my protein ball with two mouthful of Ensure Plus from my handheld bottle.
As we made our way up to Centennial Park, the 3 hour 15 minutes wagon was on my tail, 50 meter behind. Bang on where I wanted to be. After what felt like 100 turns in the park, I crossed path with the leading pack travelling in the opposite direction, and I was really happy to see Gary Mullins and Andy Heyden running really strong with a smile on their face.
Along the course, spectators and friends cheered runners on and that makes such a tremendous difference. As I was exiting Centennial Park, Neil joined in and we ran and chat all the way back down along Oxford Street when I reached the marathon distance on my watch in about 3 hours and 11 minutes. Sweet.
I stopped at the next water station to fill up my hand held bottle and have some electrolyte. My previous attempt drinking from the plastic glass on the run had been a disaster, so what the hell.. I took my time to stop and actually drink instead of splashing it everywhere. There must be a better way for this.
The day started to warm up and so did my legs. My pace started to increase without any conscious effort on my side and I started to overtake other runners.
About 100 turns later (seriously windy course..), through the city and out to Pyrmont, I hit 50km on the watch and 30km on the course. I felt really good now. No more plantar pain, legs nice and loose, go figure!
The way back via Barangaroo was so familiar I almost felt like it was one of HuRTS sessions. I spent the last couple of kms preparing for the final stretch via Circular Quay and on the lookout for Lidia with the kids, I was hoping to run the last 50 meters with Lorenzo and Allegra.
They were nowhere to be seen so I ran straight to the finish chute and here they were! waiting for me with a huge smile! What a great feeling to have them all there.
I ended up running 60km (Strava says 62km?) with a 3 minutes negative split.
My official marathon time being 3:08.
After a brief rest at the recovery area eating 2 bananas and 2 apples in 2 minutes flat, we went straight to lunch at friends' house.
A long run, delicious food and good wine with family and friends. I couldn't have had a better day!
Funny enough, the pain on my plantar and other niggles have completely gone.
This is not the first time it happens to me. I reckon a long run stretches my plantar and all other muscles maybe stimulating my body to kick in and start to repairing it. Go figure!
"Everyone, every moment in your life is there because you attracted to yourself" [R. Bach]
"Going out chasing utopias" [me]
Over the years, these two quotes have become part of my living principles.
But while they are good on paper and as tattoos, they don't have much real life value unless they are followed by ACTION.
I read blog and books, watch talks, listen to podcasts of people who accomplished amazing things. People who follow their dreams no matter what. They push through the hard beginning, and end up doing what they love, in peace with themselves and ultimately, leave a mark and make this world a better place.
While in the moment you get inspired and all pumped up, when thinking of making the leap yourself into the unknown to follow your "calling", it all becomes overwhelming and very daunting.
The last few years I have been trapped by my own fear of change, and essentially two questions:
This is an overly simplified version of the questions, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
There are many layers of personal self-doubt underneath - which I believe is a useful feeling to have to if you grab hold of it in a constructive way: it keeps you grounded and humble.
Fear on the other hand, is very powerful and harder to manage. Unless you get into the habit of addressing it regularly and see it for what it really is, it can become a giant monster in the closet. And the worst thing is that it has a ripple effect on everything you do and the people around you.
They say you are the product of the 5 people you spend most time with. Now that I am a father, I honestly don't want these questions and fear to define the life of my children and the people who are my closest.
Also, if my 3 years old son asked me those two questions the answers would be obvious:
I believe these answers apply to myself too.
So, long story short. I've gone ALL-IN ! Putting my passion and "calling" first and see what happens.
I am most happy when I am in the intersection between running and charity fundraising. I have a few ideas I cultivated over the years I believe are worth exploring and giving it a good crack.
I found when I put myself on the line I can become resourceful in ways I never knew before.