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My First 100

On Saturday, September 2, 2017, I ran a 100 km run. These days, it does not sound impressive to me, but back in 2017, I never ran a step over the 42.195 km of a standard marathon. I had always been fascinated by the ultramarathon, which is any distance beyond the regular marathon length. Those who could run longer looked like running gods to me. And I wanted to be one of them. I just had to be one of them.

The idea ran through my mind day and night. I was so determined to be an ultramarathoner that I would dream about me already being one. Many nights, I could not sleep. The project consumed me. And so, on June 10, 2017, I decided to run beyond the marathon distance, not by much, but I needed to build my confidence. That Saturday, for my long run, I covered 43 km. I was happy, tired and content. I was going to become an ultrarunner soon.

I am a great fan of gradual improvement. In other words, I gradually increase my mileage to build muscle strength and confidence. The next milestone was 50 km, which I completed two weeks later. Although I was totally depleted upon crossing the finish line, I felt ecstatic. I was an ultra runner at last.

Two weeks later, I went for 60 km and did go the distance. To my surprise, I was not as tired as for my last running milestone, the 50 km. It seemed like my body was getting used to pushing farther every two weeks. Now, let’s not forget that I was averaging 21 K four times a week, in addition to my long run, which considerably increased my overall mileage. I was concerned about injuries. But I was too proud to slow down.

I hit the 70 km mark two weeks later. That one was hard. I was completely wiped out upon arriving in front of my building. I could not take one extra step. I could not bend my legs to sit down on the floor, I was battling cramps in multiple areas of my legs, and I was in a cold sweat. That was not very promising, considering that I still had to climb three flights of stairs to reach the safety of my apartment. These are the times when, although your run is concluded, you still have to dig deep, just to get home and climb into the tub for a well-deserved shower. I was afraid the cramps would make my legs seize and leave me paralyzed on the sidewalk in front of my house for everyone to see me fall on the ground in agony. I would rather die than be embarrassed. Yeah, I know, stupid, right?

Sure enough, I finished an 80 km run two weeks later. I ran smoothly up to the 75 km mark. Then cramps started to harass me and play with my mind. I managed to continue to run regardless, limping my carcass to the finish line. Then suddenly, no more cramps, no more pain, no more mind games. I was done for the day and happy to see how strong I was becoming week after week, or so I thought.

The next day, after the 80 km run, I woke up to a horrifying reality, I had plantar fasciitis! That meant that I had to rest for a few days. In retrospect, I pushed myself hard without real rest for months. It was inevitable. Still, my mind would not cope or rationalize. The pain was excruciating. For days, I was ruminating endlessly over my misfortune. I was not seeing any light at the end of this dark tunnel. My mind was going.

Four weeks later, I was still in really sharp pain, and at that point, my mind was destroyed. I could not work, focus, think or do anything right. All I did was suffer. I was exhausted. I snapped.

On Saturday, September 2, 2017, at 9:00 a.m., I decided to still go for it. My last long run was 80 km, four weeks back, and I did not run the planned 90 km yet. Nevertheless, I decided to forgo it and aim at the 100 km mark right now.

Upon waking up, I could not put my foot on the ground. The pain was insanely sharp, and right away, it started playing with my mind. How the hell was I going to manage to run 100 km? How would I handle the physical pain and the mental challenge related to dealing with that level of suffering? To say nothing about the mental challenge of a “normal” 100 km run…

I will not go into more details about the pain. Suffice to say, I was running on nails, broken glass and red coal! The funny thing about that is that my mind was surprisingly calm now. I began to “make friends” with the pain and welcome it. But each step was a challenge. The agony lasted until I reached the 50 km mark. Then gradually, my suffering switched from physical to mental. My foot was no longer hurting, but my mind was in turmoil. I became bored! Up until now, the pain kept me hyper focused and alert, but at this point, I was mentally depleted from controlling and overcoming the discomfort of my nagging plantar fasciitis. I wanted to quit badly, and I was only still at the halfway point. From this moment on, I began using different techniques. First, I paused the music. Then I started my self-talking routine. I focused on why I was doing this. Why I wanted to achieve this challenge so much. I imagined how bad I would feel if I quit. I knew that the pain of quitting would last a lot longer than this plantar fasciitis. I switched from “I won’t quit” to “I don’t quit.” I repeated aloud, “I have not run this far to only run this far.” My mantra lasted for about 10 km, then I was back in the game.

At 60 km, I felt good again, and I pushed on. I knew that this was only temporary and that the running demons would creep into my mind again around 80 km. And they did, with a vengeance! The weather was not ideal for covering this distance, and there was no one in the street when I reached 85 km. It got cold too. I had 15 km to go and no more energy or drive to continue. I have been hydrating well and eating adequately. So on the nutrition side, I was good, but my mind was constantly nagging me with “you did not put in the 90 km run you were supposed to. You are not going to make it.” I was starting to believe it. The pain from the plantar fasciitis flared up again to add to my problems. I was so close to the end. I was depleted of everything I needed to continue. I was now trying to give myself permission to quit by rationalizing that I could injure myself permanently. I told myself that no one would care if I quit. Only I would know. Why was I doing this to myself? What was this all about in the end? “You know, there is a very real possibility that you may die here tonight.” When that notion crept into my mind, I finally had what I needed to hang on to. I surrendered to the possibility of imminent death and vowed to die rather than quit. The thought refuelled me. I had a new challenge to focus on. “I would die fulfilling my dream. I would run to death. No, I will prevail. I will beat death. I am going to finish this thing, no matter what.” I felt better now, and I was at peace with any upcoming future. My stride became easier. The pain was still there, and I needed to dig even deeper to keep it together for another 10 km.

The countdown started. I inched my way forward. 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 km remaining. I was running really slow. I comforted myself by telling myself that in thirty minutes, I would be done. Normally I could run a 5K holding my breath, so this should not be a problem. It ended up being the longest, hardest, most painful 5K of my life. It was as I was running the thousandth mile of a ten-thousand-mile run. It looked as if it would never end. Two kilometres to go. I was so close to quitting. Just fighting off the urge brought tears to my eyes. I was so tired and in so much pain that my mind was no longer able to process what was happening.

One kilometre to go. My body was just one big wound. Everything hurt. One hundred metres to go. Fifty, twenty, ten, buzzzzzzz. My watch vibrated telling me, at last, that I ran 100 km! I was done, cooked to a crisp down to the bone. I was afraid of looking at the time. This day seemed endless. I could not tell what time it was or how long I had been running because, on my watch, I only activated the distance screen. No stopwatch, no heart rate, nothing else. I was finally done. I switched my watch screen to more data. I ended up running 100 km in 9:47:39. I was surprised! I genuinely thought I ran for more than twelve hours. Funny how the mind works. I ran every step of the one hundred kilometres. No walking.

I realized that I was not out of the woods quite yet. I still had to climb the dreaded three floors to my apartment. I was not looking forward to this new challenge at this point in my day. It took me about ten minutes to get to my door. My mind was completely blown. I was hurting everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. I was so out of it, that I showered fully dressed, only to realize it when I had a hard time washing. Getting out of the tub was difficult as I was fighting hard to keep cramps from overcoming me. I did not want my legs to seize and tear muscles. I was looking forward to running again, in two days.

I was hungry, very hungry. I weighed myself. I lost eight pounds. Not good! I love pizza and decided to reward myself with the craziest pizza ever. At this time, the only option was Domino’s Pizza. I order a large pie with all available meats, all available veggies, extra mushrooms, extra black olives. Also, to wash it all down, a 2 L of Classic Coke. Yes, yes, I know… But I couldn’t care less. I was happy, I felt invincible, indestructible, I was a bona fide ultrarunner. Nobody could take it away from me or challenge it.

The next day my legs felt completely shot. I spent the entire day with my legs elevated along the wall of my living room and I binged on the X-Files. The day after I was running again. Oh, yes, the plantar fasciitis was gone!My First 100

On Saturday, September 2, 2017, I ran a 100 km run. These days, it does not sound impressive to me, but back in 2017, I never ran a step over the 42.195 km of a standard marathon. I had always been fascinated by the ultramarathon, which is any distance beyond the regular marathon length. Those who could run longer looked like running gods to me. And I wanted to be one of them. I just had to be one of them.

The idea ran through my mind day and night. I was so determined to be an ultramarathoner that I would dream about me already being one. Many nights, I could not sleep. The project consumed me. And so, on June 10, 2017, I decided to run beyond the marathon distance, not by much, but I needed to build my confidence. That Saturday, for my long run, I covered 43 km. I was happy, tired and content. I was going to become an ultrarunner soon.

I am a great fan of gradual improvement. In other words, I gradually increase my mileage to build muscle strength and confidence. The next milestone was 50 km, which I completed two weeks later. Although I was totally depleted upon crossing the finish line, I felt ecstatic. I was an ultra runner at last.

Two weeks later, I went for 60 km and did go the distance. To my surprise, I was not as tired as for my last running milestone, the 50 km. It seemed like my body was getting used to pushing farther every two weeks. Now, let’s not forget that I was averaging 21 K four times a week, in addition to my long run, which considerably increased my overall mileage. I was concerned about injuries. But I was too proud to slow down.

I hit the 70 km mark two weeks later. That one was hard. I was completely wiped out upon arriving in front of my building. I could not take one extra step. I could not bend my legs to sit down on the floor, I was battling cramps in multiple areas of my legs, and I was in a cold sweat. That was not very promising, considering that I still had to climb three flights of stairs to reach the safety of my apartment. These are the times when, although your run is concluded, you still have to dig deep, just to get home and climb into the tub for a well-deserved shower. I was afraid the cramps would make my legs seize and leave me paralyzed on the sidewalk in front of my house for everyone to see me fall on the ground in agony. I would rather die than be embarrassed. Yeah, I know, stupid, right?

Sure enough, I finished an 80 km run two weeks later. I ran smoothly up to the 75 km mark. Then cramps started to harass me and play with my mind. I managed to continue to run regardless, limping my carcass to the finish line. Then suddenly, no more cramps, no more pain, no more mind games. I was done for the day and happy to see how strong I was becoming week after week, or so I thought.

The next day, after the 80 km run, I woke up to a horrifying reality, I had plantar fasciitis! That meant that I had to rest for a few days. In retrospect, I pushed myself hard without real rest for months. It was inevitable. Still, my mind would not cope or rationalize. The pain was excruciating. For days, I was ruminating endlessly over my misfortune. I was not seeing any light at the end of this dark tunnel. My mind was going.

Four weeks later, I was still in really sharp pain, and at that point, my mind was destroyed. I could not work, focus, think or do anything right. All I did was suffer. I was exhausted. I snapped.

On Saturday, September 2, 2017, at 9:00 a.m., I decided to still go for it. My last long run was 80 km, four weeks back, and I did not run the planned 90 km yet. Nevertheless, I decided to forgo it and aim at the 100 km mark right now.

Upon waking up, I could not put my foot on the ground. The pain was insanely sharp, and right away, it started playing with my mind. How the hell was I going to manage to run 100 km? How would I handle the physical pain and the mental challenge related to dealing with that level of suffering? To say nothing about the mental challenge of a “normal” 100 km run…

I will not go into more details about the pain. Suffice to say, I was running on nails, broken glass and red coal! The funny thing about that is that my mind was surprisingly calm now. I began to “make friends” with the pain and welcome it. But each step was a challenge. The agony lasted until I reached the 50 km mark. Then gradually, my suffering switched from physical to mental. My foot was no longer hurting, but my mind was in turmoil. I became bored! Up until now, the pain kept me hyper-focused and alert, but at this point, I was mentally depleted from controlling and overcoming the discomfort of my nagging plantar fasciitis. I wanted to quit badly, and I was only still at the halfway point. From this moment on, I began using different techniques. First, I paused the music. Then I started my self-talking routine. I focused on why I was doing this. Why I wanted to achieve this challenge so much. I imagined how bad I would feel if I quit. I knew that the pain of quitting would last a lot longer than this plantar fasciitis. I switched from “I won’t quit” to “I don’t quit.” I repeated aloud, “I have not run this far to only run this far.” My mantra lasted for about 10 km, then I was back in the game.

At 60 km, I felt good again, and I pushed on. I knew that this was only temporary and that the running demons would creep into my mind again around 80 km. And they did, with a vengeance! The weather was not ideal for covering this distance, and there was no one in the street when I reached 85 km. It got cold too. I had 15 km to go and no more energy or drive to continue. I have been hydrating well and eating adequately. So on the nutrition side, I was good, but my mind was constantly nagging me with “you did not put in the 90 km run you were supposed to. You are not going to make it.” I was starting to believe it. The pain from the plantar fasciitis flared up again to add to my problems. I was so close to the end. I was depleted of everything I needed to continue. I was now trying to give myself permission to quit by rationalizing that I could injure myself permanently. I told myself that no one would care if I quit. Only I would know. Why was I doing this to myself? What was this all about in the end? “You know, there is a very real possibility that you may die here tonight.” When that notion crept into my mind, I finally had what I needed to hang on to. I surrendered to the possibility of imminent death and vowed to die rather than quit. The thought refuelled me. I had a new challenge to focus on. “I would die fulfilling my dream. I would run to death. No, I will prevail. I will beat death. I am going to finish this thing, no matter what.” I felt better now, and I was at peace with any upcoming future. My stride became easier. The pain was still there, and I needed to dig even deeper to keep it together for another 10 km.

The countdown started. I inched my way forward. 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 km remaining. I was running really slow. I comforted myself by telling myself that in thirty minutes, I would be done. Normally I could run a 5K holding my breath, so this should not be a problem. It ended up being the longest, hardest, most painful 5K of my life. It was as I was running the thousandth mile of a ten-thousand-mile run. It looked as if it would never end. Two kilometres to go. I was so close to quitting. Just fighting off the urge brought tears to my eyes. I was so tired and in so much pain that my mind was no longer able to process what was happening.

One kilometre to go. My body was just one big wound. Everything hurt. One hundred metres to go. Fifty, twenty, ten, buzzzzzzz. My watch vibrated telling me, at last, that I ran 100 km! I was done, cooked to a crisp down to the bone. I was afraid of looking at the time. This day seemed endless. I could not tell what time it was or how long I had been running because, on my watch, I only activated the distance screen. No stopwatch, no heart rate, nothing else. I was finally done. I switched my watch screen to more data. I ended up running 100 km in 9:47:39. I was surprised! I genuinely thought I ran for more than twelve hours. Funny how the mind works. I ran every step of the one hundred kilometres. No walking.

I realized that I was not out of the woods quite yet. I still had to climb the dreaded three floors to my apartment. I was not looking forward to this new challenge at this point in my day. It took me about ten minutes to get to my door. My mind was completely blown. I was hurting everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. I was so out of it that I showered fully dressed, only to realize it when I had difficulty washing. Getting out of the tub was difficult as I was fighting hard to keep cramps from overcoming me. I did not want my legs to seize and tear muscles. I was looking forward to running again, in two days.

I was hungry, starving, I weighed myself, and I saw I lost eight pounds. Not good! I love pizza and decided to reward myself with the craziest pizza ever. At this time, the only option was Domino’s Pizza. I order a large pie with all available meats, all available veggies, extra mushrooms, extra black olives. Also, to wash it all down, a 2 L of Classic Coke. Yes, yes, I know… I was happy, I felt invincible, I felt indestructible. I was today a bona fide ultrarunner. Nobody could take it away from me or challenge it.

The next day my legs felt completely shot. I spent the entire day with my legs elevated along the wall of my living room, and I binged on episodes of the X-Files. The day after, I was running again. Oh, yes, the plantar fasciitis was gone!