Yesterday, we (a group of my friends in work) received a message that said: 93km DNF.
The message from Axel, one of our co-workers also a friend. He is an amazing runner that took part in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon race in Sapa this year for his first 100km. Last year, he was there for 70km.
Axel dropped us the message and went to bed with broken-heart, mind and body. Until this morning, we all found his full story shared on Instagram. I paste it here to remind myself of how a human being can do mentally and physically.
Race diary: VMM 2018 100K – My First DNFIt’s a hard pill to swallow. Yesterday after almost 19h, 91.5km and close to 4000m of positive elevation gain I had to take one of the most painful decision of my life. Choosing wiseness over pride.
Race begun with 5km or so of descent, felt great, was warmed up, confident and determined not to leave the top #20. Was running in #14 or #15 position after 15km when I made a first mistake, was pass midnight in the mountains and while I was drawn in the race lead excitement I forgot to put my night jacket on. By the time I realized it I was already feeling cold and my stomach cranked up, impossible to get calories in, had to slow down, took me about an hour to get warmer and feeling better. The first 36km loop was brutal, the sun rise and I already felt like I was above my limits, going too fast. That has been my most critical mistake of my race, listening to my pride rather than my humble self.
From km40 to 70 I was doing pretty good still, got pass by a lots of runners on uphills but managed to caught most of them back on downhill, though I had already moved back to top #30 at this point.
Energy bar didn’t worked from the beginning so I relied on gels, electrolytes and CPs fruits to get moving. Time wise things were pretty much going as plan, pointed at km21 in 3:05’ at km42 in 7:15’ and at km70 in 13:30’. But that was way too fast considering the hard remaining part of the race. Again, my pride was in command and was just obsessed with catching up runners ahead to move up on ranking. Was about to learn the hard way that in ultras, pride is lethal.
Approaching km75 my body started to fall apart, was compensating by firing twice more gels than planned and manage to mute the pains I accumulated. Feet were burning, my right knee felt awful and got burning frictions on my tights. It was hard to keep moving, 15 runners passed me, putting me out of the top #40.
Finally my last mistake was to let, again, pride leading my decisions. I thought it was no time for caution. I fired up 3 gels in 20’ and speeded up, caught few runners back until I completely blew up.
At km85 I could no longer mute my pains, feet felt like walking on broken glass, my right knee had double sized, felt cold, dizzy, and worst of all, negative thoughts were all over my head.
For the first time ever, my body shutdown. My mind could no longer forced my body to achieved this egocentric goals I set to myself, of placing top #20. This costed me my race. I walked the last 5km to CP6 like a zombie, to finally decide to stop before the 14km left to the finish line. There were no way I would’ve made it through the last climb (Silver Stone).
A 100K race is not what I thought it was, a longer 70K race. A 100K is a different race category, and those distances had no place for silly decisions based on pride. Lesson learned.
Woke up this morning feeling slightly better and the first thing that came to my mind was: I’ll be back on the 100K next year, wiser.– Axel Garond –
Back to 2013, when i first left my comfort zone after almost 4 years of learning, contributing and giving all my passions to what i believed to something totally news and i had no ideas what it’s going to be. I’ve joined my current company. At that time it was absolutely no form of products or services or any knowledges of what i was doing here. First thought in my mind: “You wanted to start all over again, this is it.”
Slowly at the end of 2013, we started with a new project, also my first event ever i’ve joined as a organizer. In real, I have been leading to this stage of life by that baby step, to what i’ve never ever imaged that i could be or do in my life: to be inspired and inspire others.
We are together learning almost every single day. Years by years, i myself has transformed to a person that i think is the best version of me which i never accepted before. I met so many people, who inspired me and inspiring still. Also i met those who inspired by me or by what i (we) am doing as what they shared to me.
I started realizing that living in this life is not just “living”, it’s a collection of “earning”, “giving”, “sharing”, “taking care”. In 5 years, i’ve collected so many “things” that makes me feel grateful. “Good friends” who always beside me to share the best or worst moments, accepted the ugly and good side of me. Those who are letting me being part of their lives. “Awesome company” where i and my colleagues have our own space to learn, grow, contribute to not just for the company but for the community. This working place is my home, those people are my family. However, the biggest part in my collection is the “Inspirational stories” that shared by people around me, those added in to my motivational box every day, like the story above from Axel.
We are inspiring each other as a friend, a colleague or a stranger but we are all know the ending part.
Sometimes, i wondered to myself that what if i am not doing this then what i am gonna do, What if i had not met them, then what would i become as a person. The answer is there is no What If. From the bottom of my heart, i know that i made this choice and it must be it. If i am not doing here, i would do it somewhere else. It’s just matter of time.
I believe in Faith. And faith has lead us to cross our lives together so we should be thankful for that. If you are not here with me yet, then you still have time to work your way out.
Saigon in a rainy day of Autumn.
23 September 2018.