27.08.2022 World Championships 100km
From no emotions to the top of the mountain.
BEFORE THE RACE
This year has been strange what my running meets. After Sevilla Marathon in February, Covid and long covid, I had no chance to take part at any race until July – 12 Hour run in Austria and now World Championships in 100km. The season’s most important run for me to focus on was and stays Spartathlon. With only 1 Month between 100km World Champs and Sparta- what were my thoughts and goals in Bernau?!
Bernau is a special place for me. 2 years ago, I run my 2nd 24 hour run here and made my dream come true- new Latvian national record 228,96 km. That was the first run I did begin of pandemic and I have been always grateful to Jörg Stutzke, a great man who passed away last year, for giving it all to make this run happen, as most of events at that time were canceled. It was Jörgs dream and idea to bring the World Championships to Germany. Coming back to Bernau, meeting Jörgs wonderful wife Silke after such a long time, staying at her house- it felt heart fulfilling. Meeting so many running friends brought that special family feeling to my heart again- I really missed them all! But what about the race-feeling? Did I feel any of that at all?
Standing on the starting line after 5 good hours of sleep didn’t change anything what my race emotions meet, that excitement that makes one shiver before the race was not really there. I felt no pressure, no worries and I kind of liked it. I was one of the athletes standing very back and as I chatted with Maria from Austria, I forgot to check if my Coros watch is still set up- only after starting the race I realized I need to start it again- kudos for finding GPS so fast!
But wait- standing on a start line for 100km World Championships and feeling no pressure? What are you talking about, Diana?! Those are WORLD Championships!!! Well, as my target race Spartathlon at the end of September is too close to these 100km, I was not aiming to empty my tank in Bernau. Which doesn’t mean that I was not grateful & proud to be one of those lucky athletes to be there. For me Bernau was all about gathering great energy and feelings to bring with me to Athen.I made a similar expierence a year ago, doing 100km race in Austria also about a month before leaving to Greece. This year the target was to run a solid tempo for as long as possible- 75-80km as my coach said to me.
In the morning the weather was not yet perfect. After the night with storm and warm -cold air mix, it felt a bit humid. Later we had really the perfect conditions. At some point it got even a bit too warm- I cooled down myself with Medivid Cryo as usual. I started just slightly too fast as planned- but hey- you see all those great runners among you and what happens is- you get immediately high as I reached half marathon, something didn’t feel right- my legs were good but I couldn’t really breath so well as I would expect. The idea of starting too fast approached me, thinking maybe it is also the humid weather. Ralf from Germany asked me on the way if I’m coming good in race and I told him that it doesn’t feel like that at the moment. I tried to get rid of this idea of having a bad day and kept greeting all the happy runners running along- that made me happy- and you could sure see that from the smile on my face!
And then something great happened. Argentina- Sergio from Argentina- listening his steps running next to me, his rhythms of running seemed to matched mine very well. He looked at me and said: no English! I was like – no Spanish 4 4 5? asked Sergio. I said yes-4:45! And without any further “discussion” we decided to run together. After a lap of 7,5 km we decided to run together until finish. Honestly- I do prefer to run alone, but since Sergio had really “the same legs” as I and he was really funny (just like me ), it made me really happy to have him running next to me! This man gave me the boost I needed to have that fun and happy feeling running, forgetting immediately the idea of “starting too fast” – not letting negative thoughts to approach me as we all know these kind of thoughts can end up with a failure-giving up.
Over 52 awesome kilometers on the way running side by side with Sergio! To keep the pace was not an issue- the issue was to not go too fast and Sergio was really cool- he always gave me a signal as I, full with adrenalin, was getting too carried away! 4:45 he repeated and we smiled! Even though we had a language issue, we still managed to chat a bit- about his dream to run Spartathlon,about the great runners of South America..And my huge respect to Sergio- should we cross finish line together,he said – he would let me for him. Which of course I did not accept I promised him to bring his Flag to Leonidas. I knew that new friendship is sealed!
So far so good- happy race, happy runners, almost happy tummy (since I had no race feeling before the race, I also didn’t follow any special prerace week eating- I actually had couple of boxes of chocolate day before race and lot of pizza- (I do have always pizza). Only 3 Tixi stops during 100km is a really great achievement for me
Around km 70 Sergio was starting to struggle, my try to motivate him was not successful and as much as I wanted to wait for him, after dropping the pace a bit for few km, he didn’t manage to catch up and I knew that the rest of the race I will be running alone.
And then I asked myself- rest of the race? The plan was to run 75-80km in a good pace and then if I don’t feel so good, stop and save myself for next month. Reaching km 80 was a lot about digging in deep.
How do you find your motivation when you have reached your goal? – I asked myself
Run extra 5km, run until km 85- your coach will be very happy with you, the “I always want to do my best” student spoke to me.
Km 85. And now? I was on a very good way to make a new national record. But I started to feel tired. Starting to struggle to keep the pace, I started to talk to myself. Frank from Germany run towards me on the other side and shouted: you will surely keep this up until the end now, won’t you?! I smiled and kept talking to myself. What is your goal now? Latvian National record? Hmn..2 years ago you came here to fill your dream of hitting the 24 hour national record and you did it. Now you came here to run faster 80km. But there was not even the smallest thought of national record. That was not your goal, I have given exact zero thoughts to it. I felt confused. Lost. Targetless. Why should I keep running? I finished good 85km. Why should I keep on running? Personal best? National record? I had no Information about Rank 1 in WMA.
I looked up in the sky. Jörg. Respect and thankfulness are what I felt. I thanked to Jörg for having this fantastic idea to bring this run to Bernau, for giving me the chance 2 years ago to make my dream come true of 24 hour national record and for giving me this chance here now to show him my gratitude- his dream to bring the championships to Germany has been fulfilled. And I told him loud: this one is for you! The thoughts of Jörg motivated me to keep running, to find the strength in me to overcome the tiredness. Kissing the ground after crossing the finish line just felt natural to me. I felt overpowered with the energy of something higher what’s not to explain.
Gratitude is what I feel when I think about Bernau. Gratitude to Jörg, to my coach Gerhard Schiemer, to all the runners who were there to share their energy, to my daughter, who was there as well- helping at the opened Lab Station for all runners and giving me her love every time I passed her,thankful to my partners Coros Germany and Medivid, as well as Maurten. And last but not least- Egon Theiner– my support “crew” who did a fantastic job and got well warmed up to be there for me again at Spartathlon- once again-without him it would not have been possible to run these 100km in 07:53:16. Amazing Teamwork.
Photo Copyright: Matis Vecvegaris, Girts Stromcinskis, Egon Theiner,Tuffery Dawn