This was supposed to be my lead entry for 2011 but since it had been a busy holiday and post-holiday for the family, the Fat Ass run , BDM practice run and the Condura Marathon easily steamrolled on my set schedules. Anyway here goes…
a. Getting out of ones’ comfort zone. Everytime a runner ventures out for new roads to conquer, he leaves his cozy comforts and embarks into a new adventure with a mixture of trepidation, excitement and curiousity. As in life, nothing in running is definite. So we expose ourselves to the possibility of various dangers awaiting us on the road, both from the outside or within. For Ultraruns, the risk may seem greater but many friends seem to favor ultraruns since the pace is more relaxed with less pressure to improve one’s personal record and thus less injury on many sensitive areas of the legs. But then again, I might just be psyching myself up for the big day – the Bataan Death March 102 km on March 6-7. Yup, we will be running while the sun is coming out into its scorching peak by midday.
b. Getting in touch and close to Mother nature. Whether trudging on rocks and sand or clambering over boulders, one is always in close contact with mother nature (away from the modern creature comforts). One is also aware and made aware of Her ever changing condition – whether it’s the sweltering solar heat or strong windy weather, the runner soaks up (and hopefully enjoys) the current conditions surrounding him in order to move on. So he is most adaptable to either expected or unexpected of these many conditions. One is wont to keep moving, without complaints or aggravation but a positive outlook and vibe.
c. Getting in touch with the real world. Out of his protected fortress and gated community, the runner ventures out into the real world, witnessing and encountering some neighborhoods/districts he would never set foot in if he had not set out that morning. He is not protected by his tinted 4×4 vehicle but in close contact with the hoi polloi (the masses), smelling the stench and experiencing their everyday living conditions. Since many of these runners are born leaders, hopefully, these constant encounters with the common tao will make these influential runners more sensitive to the real needs of the lower class.
d. Humility. Indeed, running is a great equalizer as titles, status and positions vaporize once the gun explodes. Once on the road, what matters is who runs fastest, who finishes strongest and who trained the hardest. Once in a while, I love to kid myself that I have the perfect physique of a runner – long, slender torso with a hint of chest, mildly bulging arms, semi-muscular legs, etc. So this well-toned body is supposed to take me fast for miles, right? Well, not really. In fact, I’ve been quite immersed in the world of running for some time to tell you that I’ve seen the most ‘un-runnerly’ participants whiz past me in many a races. Never again will I ever size up any runner just because he’s too wide, too skinny, too short-legged, etc.
e. Patience. From the start of our brief running history, Dave and I never aimed to outrun other runners. Our goal was to enjoy the experience and finish the run, sans any injury. We were satisfied to finish in the final batch but with persistence and regular training, our pace finally picked up. Soon enough, we were aiming for PRs (personal records) and upping our previous times. After months of LSDs and alternate runs/walks, we’ve entered the zone of tempo and speed runs. (and injuries, hopefully the mild/temporary ones)
f. Daring. For every ultrarun we commit ourselves in, we put ourselves not only to familiar/new risks on the road but possible disability or even death. And anyone who signs that waiver form is made aware of such consequences which may discourage the weak of heart, that’s both literally and otherwise. But even as the kilometers increase, the eagerness multiplies. Now we know why ultrarunners are branded as crazies, insane, etc.
g. All runs are never the same. A well conditioned newbie runner who brings with him new expectations and excitement could easily outrun a veteran who hasn’t prepared well enough or was ‘out of synch’ that race day. A new place, an unfamiliar terrain or an erratic environmental condition could easily spell a big difference whether to boost one’s spirit & energy or eventually weigh down on the broken in and excited participant.
See you in the finish line!