A year of Running, 2019 Race Overview [Part II]

Read Part I [Here]

26- 09- 2019- Spartathlon Greece-  Epic Fail

Recap on the Spartathlon Experience Blog

Spartathlon has always been my dream race. I remember when I start to run ultra-marathon race and I saw those crazy elites’ runners starting the race at the base of the Acropolis. I always saw them as runners with superpowers!

I couldn’t even imagine that at some point in my life I would be one of them. (Spartathlon is a 250km race with a 36hrs cut off- similar to Sakura Michi 250km in Japan, with the same cut off time, that I finished twice) I had my entry for 2019, and this race was my target race of the year.

Before Spartathlon, I was so stressed out and wanted to do everything to complete it brilliantly! That thought came to me after I realized that I would be running a 444km race at a fast pace and run a 50 miles distance only two weeks after that, when, in fact, I was supposed to rest and help my recovery prior to the Spartathlon…

So realistically, I knew that I was not in the best conditions to succeed in this race. Because my stress level was so high, I even thought of not taking the starting line. Luckily, some friends convinced me to try it

over and, deep down inside of me, I knew that I had to face my own fear… my fear of failing. I knew that I had to take the start and face my fear whatever happened and see what goes next!

I felt blessed to be at the starting line of the race at the feet of the Acropolis. I started to run with a few friends I met a few days before. They gave the energy push to start. Internally, I knew that it was not my day.

I would have wished that this “not my day” would happen another day then the Spartathlon day!

You know the rest of the story and to make it short, I was removed from the race at the 65km mark, less than a minute after the checkpoint cut-off.

At first, my ego took a huge hit. Cut at 65km when I knew that I just completed 444km… How come?

In reality, when the guy at the aid station told me that I was cut-off from the race, I was almost expecting it… I knew deep down inside of me that it was a very real possibility.

Luckily, even before I flew for the city of Athen, I chatted about this eventual DNF with my runner-friend-mentor and, now that I think of it, this discussion helped me greatly to digest the entire event.

We cannot go into life alone!  I took this DNF more peacefully than I would imagine. I was so glad that I faced my fear. I faced my fear of failing and I’m still here to talk about it!

Afterward, we finally reached our hotel with the other DNF runners, in the “learners bus” after a ten hours ride. (We used to call it the “loser’s bus” but I renamed it the “learners bus” because we don’t have failures in life, just feedback! 😊)

Overall, even if I didn’t complete it, I met such amazing people and we had so much fun! I didn’t come back from Greece with medals and a fancy finisher certificate but I came back with a list of new friends and amazing people that I met during those few days.

I always remind myself that in life the journey is so much more important than the destination itself!

20-10-2019: 100km SG Ultra-marathon, Pacing Chris

I can still remember the first chat I had with my friend Chris Shaw. On that day, he told me how running changed his life. Before he jumped into running, he was a sedentary guy and struggled with his immune-disease. Chris decided to run and have an active life that allowed him to turn his life all around. I still recall how inspired and impressed I was when he told me his story. How running changed him from the inside.

Chris and I were discussing his future running challenges when he told me he doubted he could ever complete a full 100km. From the moment he told me, I knew that wasn’t true. Chris is a “running machine” driven by so much energy and willingness.

When he told me that he registered for a 100km race in Singapore, the least I could do was to make myself available and support him in his journey!

Chris is not your average runner; he is a true warrior! He is fighting day-in and day-out extreme pain from his condition. The level of suffering he goes through is unimaginable for most of us… so just picture adding a long-distance running to the equation!

The day of the race was particularly hot and humid in Singapore. Chris had to deal with that extra layer of difficulty as well.

During this 100km, I stayed side by side with him. I accompanied him through his entire journey. Chris fought the pain all along this 100km until he crossed the finish line with the rising sun.

I love seeing friends and runners succeed in their challenges.

We had a great time outside, sharing stories, laughing and enjoying the night run in Singapore. Overall, that was a great day and great memories in stock for our old days.

16-11-2019- UM 24 Malaysia

I registered myself for this 100 miles on a 400m track after my epic failed Spartathlon tentative.

The idea under this race was to test ‘my speed’ and to assess my strengths and fitness.

When I realize that Endurance Nature was doing a 24h run on a track, I just registered straight away. (You can read the full story about the race in the blog section on the website at veroniquerun.com)

This 400m track was, in fact, more enjoyable of what I thought it would have been. The Endurance Nature team managed once again to make this event a really high enjoyable one, with music (we even had Thriller at the middle of the night while we were all so tired and exhausted, walking like zombies!!), excellent catering, outstanding support while creating the same family spirit all along the way. (Well… considering it was a 400m loop! :))

My training for this race was far from perfect. My goal was to give everything I got and make the best that I can, as simple as that. I wasn’t aiming at breaking any record or make a podium.

I was quite surprised for managing this race so well based on the conditions that we had on that day: Really, really (Did I missed a “really” here? You can add one more just in case.) hot and humid during daytime followed by constant rain shower during nighttime which brought my body temperature way too low for my own little self!

The spirit between runners was awesome. Running with friends gave me power and energy when I needed the most.

I still remember when my friend helped me to push the few laps before I reach the 100km mark. I couldn’t believe that I would be able to run that fast after everything I went through during the day.

I was secretly “dying.” Each time that he saw me running, my friend (who is way faster than I am, by the way!) would say to me: “Come on Vero, let’s do this together!” And we were pushing laps after laps. I wouldn’t have been able to make it without him. I always thought that running in a loop for 24h would have been an awful treatment, but in fact, that was more enjoyable than what I thought initially.

I was quite impressed by how regular my pace was all along the way. My strategy was simple: run 5 laps, walk half a lap and eat-drink after the fifth lap. I never “properly paused” even for eating, apart from a 9 minutes massage after my 80km mark and after around nine and a half hours of running! That was a treat in itself.  During the nighttime, I felt so tired, that I would have secretly hoped that the rain and the thunderstorm would stop the race so I could rest! I was dreaming of sleeping directly on the grass next to the racing path. But my wish didn’t come true! My runners-friends helped me to pursue my goal, keep on going and pushing me when I needed it the most.

The last 20km seemed like never-ending… Laps after laps, I finally managed to cross the line! Usually, I don’t care about race/timing/results, however, after this 100 miles, I never would have imagined that I would end up being the overall winner in the 100 miles category, plus a new 100 miles PB with the dreadful Malaysian weather 😁🎊

That is why I am excited to share with you the final stats:

100 miles on a 400m track. A total of 160.72km – for a duration of 21:03:00 hours. If we remove this 0.72m, which is the equivalent of 2x400m loops (3 min-ish/each lap) it means that I achieved a sub 21h on my 100 miles! (Not bad! :))

This is funny because somewhere inside of my head I was wishing to do a sub 21 hours on 100 miles race! And I did it!

I was so unbelievably happy! This race was also one of the highlights of my year 2019.

2020 is at our door and we will respectfully say goodbye to 2019! For me, 2020 means the beginning of my African Continent run! I have lots of work to achieve before the start, but I am so looking forward to it.

Do you have plans for 2020? In next week’s blog, we will talk about the power of goal setting.

In the meantime, celebrate your wins, you deserved it! Happy New year to you and your families! Live long and run far…

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