28.10.2017 Wien Rundumadum 130 km
It is long but still not so long ago since I run my first race over 100km. It was at that time my 3rd ultrarun. In June 2017 I run Mozart100 64km with some good accent and before that in January 2017 I run Burgenland extreme 60km. That was my ultrarunning experience.
28th of October 2017 was going to be the big day I will never forget- 130km with 1880 m accent.
The preparation for this run was not easy. At that time, I had not much understanding what ultrarunning is and what I’m getting into. I also had serious issues with red blood cells and iron in my body. After I did analysis and discovered that the reason of feeling an unexplainable weakness in my legs where the catastrophic low indicators of Iron in my body,I was on iron infusion therapy in summer.My training was very limited, I made the plans myself and just focused on running slowly and as far as I can. This was the time when I started to run a lot alone, as I mostly couldn’t keep up with others- as my legs got tired very fast.
Claudia, an experienced runner from our running group at that time, was also preparing for the same run. She had already done it and I was grateful she shared with me her experience. Pace 6 min per km is what she said she was aiming the year ago. I thought it sounded reasonable. I was thinking, if she was going for it, then I could keep up with that as well. So, this magic pace was set up in my mind. I never really considered how it will work all the 130km.
At that time, runners from the Vienna Trailrunning group did many races together. As I had a huge respect for the distance and I evaluated few runners much stronger than me, I decided I want to run this race alone, not being pushed to run others pace. I wanted to do this distance just for me, feeling my body and mind and trusting my decisions all the way long.
Michael, a friend of mine who was also running at that time (however much less than me), agreed to wait for me after 80km mark to do the rest of 50km together.
The big day has come and I was really excited. I didn’t pay attention to the cough I had and the fact that I had a major diarrhea the day before (spicy Thai food ) I was excited to see what the day will bring. And I was very scared. As the race started (I think at 5AM or something), I sticked with my pace of 6. I can still remember the happiness in my heart. This run has only about 1880m accent on the 130km and the first accent 200 m spread on 1km was very soon to come. I walked up fast with my cough getting really bad. I was getting worried. Once I got up, I was starting to run again, the cough was calming down, but I didn’t really feel well. I never got pain in my front legs before at such an early stage when running, but this morning, it was just there. Mental issue? I had no clue. I kept running and thinking about life around me.My strategy was to walk all the uphills, run fast downhills and keep the pace of 6 min per kilometer on flat. I kept myself very disciplined.
Around km 47, I was still not sure how far I will come in this race. The cough was much better but not really away. I called Michael and asked him to prepare 2 liters of Tee with lots of Honey. But despite everything, I was in a really good mood and enjoying. I loved running. There was nothing else what I would prefer to do more that day.
I arrived at Traildog Running shop (KM 53) where Ed, the owner of the shop, kindly offered warm soup and tee for the runners. My pace with all the stops inclusive at this point was 6:46. I was told that I’m the first lady to come in the shop (it was not an official Station, so it was possible that other runners never came in and just passed by). I was very surprised and I remember myself saying: ohh, I guess I’m much too fast on the way. I left the shop feeling very energized, I had to really calm myself down to not run faster than those 6 minutes per km. Same time I was feeling kind of lonely and looking forward to have Michael to run with me soon. It gave me kind of a goal to look forward to during those few minutes when I felt low. As I passed km 64 and had that Gel with a taste of cucumber (how is it possible I still remember it today?!), I was really happy as it was the first time ever that I run further than 64 km. I was celebrating in my heart. It encouraged to run and see what happens next.
Sooner than I thought, I was already at km 80 and Michi was waiting for me. Happiness pure. I drunk my honey tee like a beast and told him the story how it all went and how I’m feeling. We run happily ahead. Tee seemed to have helped, I didn’t cough anymore at all. As we reached km 100, he kept saying, ohh my ,Diana, you have run already 100km. And it hit me then. I was getting mentally broken. To hear somebody telling you have run 100km, you think you are not normal. I was slipping into black hole. I realized it very fast and talked to myself quietly to not let that happen to me. I remember staying very concentrated, not talking much, always looking up in my watch to make sure I don’t drop the pace. I find it crazy, how disciplined I always try to stay, even when I don’t really realize what I’m trying to do. Every km felt like 10km.
At km 108, things turned around. I was told I’m the first lady. I couldn’t believe that. I actually never though about positioning in this race because it is not really a race “race”, it is a run for running lovers. I had an adrenalin kick and after a short meal, I was ready to go. It was already dark and it got windy. Michael was getting more tired and I felt I’m slowing down in order for him to keep up with me. It was the time of staying strong in mind and not getting stressed. But it was making me stressed. There was no real need for me to speed up, but I didn’t feel comfortable not running the pace my body wanted to run, especially at this stage of the race, where I felt really tired.
We made it to km 117, the next Station. It has been 4,5 years since that run but I’m still ashamed of me of what happened here. The Helper, a very nice guy- poured in my coup a soup as I asked him. I drunk it and then I was asking him to pour a coke and he was like – wait, I will wash the cup for you. And as tired and impatient I was at this point, I told him kind of sharply: please no, don’t do that, do you really think that after 120km I care if I drink all from the same cup or not!? As my words crossed my lips, I wanted to disappear in earth beneath my feet. I apologized and left the station as fast as I could.
It was a slight downhill with very unpleasant stones on it- Kellergasse. Michael was getting more and more slow and I was suffering from tired, painful legs. I couldn’t wait for him as I knew I will break down any minute if I don’t listen to my body and the pace it is letting me go. I talked to Michael and we decided I keep running alone. We will meet at the finish. Those were the last 10km that I spend on the way alone. I was exhausted. I remember myself singing loud running in dark along Donau. I was scared to be there alone, but the pain kept me alive and going. I was still somehow very happy as I could feel reaching the finish. 3-4 km from finish, I realized that I’m not really alone. There was somebody on a bike following me. Günter, my ex-boyfriend, was on my feet. Happy to have a company again, I gathered together all my strength to not show how tired I m. I guess that bit of pride insideme was playing the role. Together we reached the finish- I remember it was a bit chaotic to find the correct path to the Hall-, I remember there where 2 steps down to stadium that made me scream in pain. And I remember all those happy runner friend faces from team run who were there at the finish run to congratulate me. I was on the way for 14 hours and 39 minutes living through very special emotions that’s will stay with me for the rest of my life. Beautiful moment with beautiful people.
After having a small massage, I felt like going out. At this point, I was not feeling well, I got dizzy and weak. I was really grateful Günter was there to help me to get home. I would never be able to do this by myself. I could not sit myself in the car or step out of it. As silly as it sounds now, I never thought about what will happen after race- how I will get home etc. Even though I respected the 130km as a distance, I never considered all the details.
Experience means learning. Besides from that, what else did I learn? Never run when you have a cold- when you are coughing, having throat pain or similar. Even If it seems like it is just a light flu. My immune system after this run was down for many months- I was very often having a light cold, cough etc. It took me more than 1,5 years to get back feeling my body is resistant enough against flu.
The happiness that this journey gave me, will never leave my heart and mind. It is the run who made me fall in love ultrarunning. It was the beginning of a new period in my life.
Photo Credits: Traildog Running, Jean-Marie Welbes & Trailrunning Vienna