11.07.2020 – Riga-Valmiera 107 km, Latvia

Reaching finish line after unforgettable 107km in 9:21:49

I run this race for the 2nd time. And it was completely different from the first one. Nevertheless, the emotions I experienced were hitting the runners high once again.

It was Thursday, I was still in Vienna at home working. Working and moving on my chair from one to the other side. My Piriformis was giving me strong signals. It has been my “best friend” for more than one year now. I felt a bit unmotivated. Later, on the way to Airport, the pain was increasing and at this moment I was pretty sure that I won´t be standing on the start line at Friday night.

Is the night smarter than day? Friday morning, I felt really very much down. I went to try to run 4-5 km, called my physio afterwards, did the exercises he told me to do and went for a nap. I woke up (yes, I managed to sleep wo-hoo!!!) later early evening and immediately felt that my pain on back is significantly smaller! The motivation was there again! Or was it adrenalin hitting in my blood?

After packing together the last things, me and my friends and my daughter – we all went to pick up the bib at the Latvian University. It was a nice feeling to be back. So many thoughts crossing my mind about last year. Pure happiness to be here again among the other crazy ultrarunners, all of them later standing on the start line and going through the fight with themselves all along 107 km. The energy in the air is difficult to describe. It is to feel. It is like a fairytale.

The moments before starting, I took some minutes for myself to charge me up with some positive energy. The doubts to start or not were not with me anymore. I knew I will be starting. I felt complete. And then at the start line.. pure happiness. Latvian National Anthem singed by all the runners. Some tears in my eyes. Gunshot. And the journey may begin.

I was really surprised the first kilometers – my legs felt very light and easy. It has been very long time since they were so light. And I was asking myself again: Adrenalin? And I was laughing. This feeling of belonging and happiness was there again. That “Born to run” feeling. Perfection. The night, darkness, music, fresh air, my steps. WOW: Absolutely in 7th heaven. And I kept laughing in this darkness enjoying every step I made.

Yeah, ohh well, it was not that perfect – around km 20 I started to feel some cramps in my stomach. I knew it was my own fault. I did it again. 2nd year in a row I couldn’t keep my fingers away from Latvian sweets and other goodies my friend cooked. My stomach is not used to this kind of heavy food anymore. Even though I had only 1 evening and half a day to stay strong and not eat anything I didn’t eat weeks before the race, my greediness was stronger and now the payback time came.

It started to rain and the rain would turn into a very heavy rain. I love rain. It was always special for me. So, for me this kind of wetter was not disturbing at all- I was enjoying it. At some point it was raining so hard that it was difficult to lift the legs- the whole street was covered in water and the shoes were totally soaked.  I was laughing again- this was the perfect reason to get my thoughts off my stomach issues. I felt strong and unbreakable. I was running and except for the stomach problems there was no other issues- I didn’t have any pain in my back, butt or legs. It was amazing. Pain-free running. As an ultrarunner, I don’t have this luxury very often anymore. I know how to appreciate being pain-free. The same race a year ago was completely different for me. I suffered a lot from having issues with my legs. This year, my legs were taking me where my eyes showed and the smile on my lips didn’t leave me.

Checkpoint Nr 3. Really big thanks to the ladies who already had my bag opened and prepared for me. Running without any support, actions like this not only helps a lot, but also makes me smile and motivates! Not only the words cheering up but also some help at aid stations is a really big thing for each runner who is on track. Sometimes you can get really lonely running so many kilometers alone, so reaching a check point and hearing others cheering for you really motivates and gives energy for the next hours.

I kept running and fighting with my stomach issues. Laughing about myself and thinking how stupid of me not to learn from the last year. I paid hard for this one- I had to make 7 pitstops during the race, losing a lot of time and energy.

It was km 85 where I felt blessed again. No, not because my stomach stopped giving me troubles. There was a Truck passing me, the wind was too strong, it catched me completely, I was lifted in the air, my hat was blown away, and I ended up on my knees facing the other directions of road. I was shocked for couple of seconds. Got up, took my hat and kept running. Happy I didn’t get hurt seriously.

Km 90. I started to make some timing calculations. I couldn’t remember anymore what was my time at 100km the year before (I just don’t pay attention to these things). I thought maybe I could make it a bit better this year. But then I have to say no to the chance making the female track record (it belongs to me last year race) better, because I won´t be able to get faster for 17 km. 10km maybe, but 17km seemed a lot. My training wasn’t that great to make this happen and if I try, the man with a hammer will probably arrive before I know it. OK- I was thinking. Let´s make the best out of 100km- I have to start to run faster now if I want it to happen. I had a great motivation- I saw some guys running in front of me and I was trying to catch up with them. I kind of put my thoughts together in my mind, got myself very concentrated and started to run in autopilot. I was running to Valmiera to see my daughter. I felt happy she is there. I felt happy I reached 100km.

Fantastic. I can relax now. I would have relaxed- but I got really upset. I lost my ice spray on the way and at this point it kind of felt like a hard hit in a face. I promised one guy on the way that I will leave it for him at 100km mark so he can use it for his upper legs. I needed it also for my upper legs to feel fresher (at least mentally). It just got me upset that it is not there anymore. I left and run ahead. In 7km I will be done. The journey will be over. Theoretically, new female track record was still possible. I didn’t feel motivated anymore. I felt empty. Something was missing.

Where is Lauris? (Sports Journalist from last year cheering me up) Where is Mareks? (Photographer from last year cheering me up). Where is somebody who smiles and says goooooo!!! Runnnn!!! Just cheers me up a bit?! Nobody. I was filling myself with last years memories. At that moment I felt like in trans, I kept monitoring my watch. I can do it. You can do it, I kept thinking. Run. Run. And suddenly that “born to run” feeling hit me again. Yeah, runners high, baby!!!! I was already reaching the church, somebody one the way cheering me up in Russian, calling my name. A new female track record. I surprised myself again.

Thank you! What a run! What a journey! Finish line- my daughter- tears- happiness. I´m there and I´m healthy, all in one piece.

These 9 hours and 21 minutes I will remember many years to come- those emotions are priceless. Running 107 km without pain.  Running and smiling.