"Nobody Pounded the Table Anymore, No body Threw Their Cups"
This is the title of 6th chapter of Haruki Murakami's book, 'What I talk about when I talk about running'. I seldom read his fictions, but this book is a collection of essays about running, and it is one of my favorite books. I have both English and Japanese versions of the book plus an audio one (CD). After reading this chapter (I've also heard it in my car plenty of times), I wanted to have a chance to try an ultra-marathon someday. Two newer books regarding long-distance running, "BORN TO RUN" and "EAT & RUN", also urged me to try at the earliest possible date.
Yes, yesterday was the day. I finally ran 100 km (= 62 miles) in a single day.
I got up at 01:00 AM, and ate a total of 6 pieces of rice cake, 6 fingers of banana, and 1 nutrition jelly and drank a lot of water before the race. I got my fuel tank full. This is what I reconfirmed after the race, it seems I have a strong digestion, maybe stronger than most runners.
While I drove to the starting point, it was already raining. Because of a typhoon approaching Japan, we had rain almost all through the race. Sometimes softly, sometimes heavily (mostly in the last half). I had been imagining a race under a hot summer condition, and had been training for the battle with the blazing heat, but anyone cannot control the weather. I didn't believe I would need rain wear in the first half when I would be able to run at a good speed, but was afraid I would definitely want one in the last half when I would slow down in the mountainous course. I decided to deposit my fishing rain wear (OR, Outdoor Research Gore-tex light jacket and Seattle Sombrero hat) at an aid station, and as a result I was strongly assisted by them.
Here are my brief results.
0-10 km: 1h 00m
It was still very dark and difficult to run fast. This lap includes a slap course with 150 m (167 yd) going up and down. The pace was a little faster than I expected, but I was still feeling good and comfortable.
Morning dawned. The course was flat and I ran at ease. The pace was much faster than I planned, but I kept the faster pace, because I thought it would get stormy in the afternoon. At the time, I didn't notice that 'savings of time are debts of energy in marathons.'
The course was still flat and I kept the good pace. I felt a little bid uneasy about the latter half of the race, but it was my first time to run an ultra-marathon and I was not concerned seriously about what would happen later.
30-40km: 1h 07m
This lap included the return of the 150 m up- and downslopes. I slowed down, but the pace was still faster than I first planned.
40-50km: 1h 10m
I ran on and on. After I passed the distance of a marathon (42.195 km = 26.2 miles), my legs were getting more and more disobedient. I took a longer rest at an aid station (46km, the first gate) and ate a cup of noodle. To tell the truth, I felt most terrible from this leg of the course to the second gate (56 km), and I was trying to find reasons to retire a lot of times. I had to be patient to pass through this step.
50-60km: 1h 24m
I got to the second gate. There, I exchanged my dirty wet shirts and socks, ate fruits and sushi, and thoroughly applied pain relief cream on my legs. I relived. I thought I would be able to run some more.
60-70km: 1h 40m
The hardest part was waiting for us runners. It was rather climbing than running to go up to a peak of 400 m (444 yd) mountain. I often walked, not being able to run. I was going to overcome upslopes, but the course was much steeper than I imagined.
70-80km: 1h 27m
I was almost out of breath, but could reach the third gate located near the peak of the mountain. I applied the pain relief cream on my legs again there. After the gate, the course was mostly downhill, and my legs got completely disobedient when I passed 80 km point.
80-90km: 1h 34m
I can't recall this leg of the course well. I passed through the fourth gate, ate bread, fruits, and fish soup there. It got very stormy and much cooler than before. I decided to wear a rain jacket and hat to warm myself, because I had not extra energy to rush. When I felt I could not run, I often walked at a brisk pace. I walked, but my pace was sometimes faster than running speed of other exhausted runners.
90-100km: 1h 34m, Total (100km): 12h 51m 43s
When I reached 90 km point, I thought of a familiar course around my place with the same distance left (10 km). I got sure I would be able to finish the race under 13 hours, 1 hour before the limit time. I ran extremely slowly, or walked on quickly. It was raining like cats and dogs, so my rain jacket and hat were really helpful. I finally reached the finish line at dusk and was really happy when I was given a medal. I called my family telling I finished the race and thanked them.
On the way back from the race, I got starving to death and went to a noodle restaurant. I ordered triple of Japanese noodle with tempura of chicken and fish sausage. I quickly finished them up. I hear most runners have a poor appetite during and after ultra-marathon races, but it seems I'm exceptional.
I could finish the race. I'm not sure I could enjoy the race fully under the terrible weather condition, but I'm now totally satisfied with what I did.
From the book I mentioned in the opening sentence:
"For a runner like me, what's really important is reaching the goal I set myself, under my own power. I gave it everything I have, endure what needs enduring, and am able, in my own way, to be satisfied."