Sunday, June 9, 2013

Knowing what you´re made of...

It was about 2k into today´s 6k race when I had a lightbulb moment. I was suffering pretty badly, more mentally than physically, after just completing the first beach leg of the race. My legs were gone, I was sucking in the air from across the other side of the Mediternean and it was clear from the other happy, energetic runners, who were becoming increasingly smaller dots in the distance in front of me, that I wasn´t taking home any medals. I wanted to give up.

Then I remembered the sig from one of my fellow forumites on the Runners Forum. It was StuRunner´s and it said:

"Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts."

Guts. That was the word. What did it feel like to dig down deep and draw on all the strength you had to get around the course? I realise this may be sounding a bit dramatic but I should put a few things into context so you understand.

First, I really was hoping for a medal today. Ok, so running should be for fun, it should be  a reward in itself etc etc and all that crap but let´s face it, if you had a chance of something to show on your mantelpiece, you´d take it wouldn´t you? In the same race last year I would have had a podium finish except that I wore my chip around my wrist and it didn´t register when I crossed the line. It was the first time, I´d worn it there and I out-sprinted some other bloke at the end after an epic race. However, he was on the podium and I wasn´t because he was dressed correctly. So, I was hoping I´d get the same small field and another crack at glory. It became obvious within about 10 minutes of the race starting that I´d been dreaming and this, for some superficial, banal and totally innapropriate reason, did my head in.

Second, half the race was on sand. Do I need to say anymore? Well, ok a bit. If you haven´t ran on sand yet, it sucks the energy from your legs quicker than Angry Birds sucks the battery from your Smartphone. Not the funniest similie but it wasn´t feeling very funny at the time.

Thirdly - it was bloody hot.

Finally, what the F**K has happened to my fitness? I was knackered from really early on. Maybe I´m getting my pacing wrong, maybe my expectations are too high or maybe I shouldn´t be doing this silly low-carb diet anymore. It could also have been to do with the 7k trail race I did the weekend before when I thought I was going to die from nipple rub:

I just don´t know. All I do know is I was really suffering from early on and I wanted to give up. But then, as I said above, good old Stu Runner´s signature popped into my head. From then on it was just logisitics - one foot in front of the other, try to catch the guy in front and try not to get overtaken. I achieved all three of these apart from the last two. 

However, what I did manage to achieve was looking like I was singing an 80´s rock ballad in my head to help me get around:

And of course, guts. So what are they?

To be honest, I´m not sure. I think they´re a determination to do your bloody best coupled with an absolute stubborn-mindedness not to give up. That´s what was going through my mind today. The other trick to using them is remembering you´ve got them. And I´ve got Stu to thank for that. He saved me just when I was feeling like a beaten, bloody, pulpy mess of jelly nothing. I owe him a beer when I see him.