Travel

So, I run my first 50km Ultra trail marathon last week.

The Ultra trail TMBT 2015 was my first Utra trail marathon. It was exactly 7 days ago and its actually feels like it was yesterday. It took me 13hrs15min to cross the finish line.

Not 10, not 11 but exactly 13:15min.

This figure seems surrealistic now like it was somebody else score, not mine. At the time, my ultimate goal was to do the best I can and completely enjoy every step (yes, even the painful ones) of the 50km.

It is NOT a half marathon.

→ First 21km marathon: MBII Maybank Bali Marathon (Edition: Aug. 2014). After months of treadmills running and park training, it was THE benchmark to test myself against.

I found it extremely enjoyable and well-balanced: running 21km was long enough to be a realistic test of fitness, physical stamina, and mental strength, but yet it remained short enough to be within reach of anyone willing to train consistently for a couple of months.

→ First trail marathon: Guang Nuang trail Marathon (Edition: Oct. 2014). I have discovered the joy of running in trees rather than traffic, around national parks rather than around in circles, and up mountains rather than speed bumps.

On the D day, it was never steep enough to be completely uncomfortable; you just feel like you’re having a good I knew I found a new hobby

→ First Ultra-trail marathon: TMBT 201 (Edition: last week). Set in Borneo, across the rainforest field of the Mount Kota Kinabalu.

I am not gonna lie, it was physically demanding. My learning outcome:  The mental aspect of running is so much more influential than what it’s given credit for.

What I am thinking about during 13hr15min of solo run?

I am not puking, and nothing is broken, so keep going.

Running an ultra-trail marathon is an emotional commitment. I cried, laugh, screamed, cried and laugh again. An endless circle. I’m a very goal-driven, results-oriented person (anyone out there agree with my self assessment?). What I do? I visualize myself crossing the finish line. It helped me a lot, especially during times when I felt very tired, the weather condition were terrible, and I needed to dig deed to find the motivation not to give up.

I bribed myself all the time.

There’ll come a point in the ultra when your body will be so exhausted that it will be all about playing the mental game. I learn to trick my mind to get more from my body. It felt like my brain was my boss, and my body its machine. My body simply obeyed on what to do and what not to do. My (virtual) self-proclaimed gift were (per order of difficulty): A trip to the beach, a giant chocolate brownie cake, or a nap.… whatever got me to go out and run.

Think of it as an 10km warm-up session, followed by a 2* 15km training run followed by an 8-km race.

I noticed something. Each time my mind was heading south, I became emotionnaly filled with self-doubts or thought of pulling out. Almost instantly and with no warning, it affected my body, drawn me down almost instantly. Hence, to avoid feeling overwhelming, I used to cut each step as a serie of running sequences, each set as a mini-marathon race.

Repeat after me, “I am having FUN”.

Getting to the finish line is part of the fun.

Yes, I said fun.

Paths are usually narrow and organic which makes for a truly unique running experience. There were no monotony.

During the TMBT, I could run over over rocks, tree roots and across streams. It meant to find a good balance between distraction from the outside scenery and mental inner focus: every step requires a keen attention making it a zen-like running workout. And to be honest with you, I usually find it a challenge to keep my brain engaged so I don’t slack off.

Step means you had to walk and not run!
Step means you had to walk and not run!

Would I do it again?

Yes, 100% yes. The pain following the race was completely worth it.People say that it is important to fill your life with goals that are worth finishing and eliminate the rest.

Well. Now, I agree.

Running is 80 percent mental, 20 percent physical. So goes the sports adage. It’s a reminder that our  bodies can go longer than we tend to think they can.

“If you want to be competitive, you have to learn how to deal with the discomfort. A lot of the heavy, good physical training is about training the brain to cope with discomfort.” Runners Word

Ultra

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