I remember the first time I went out for a run. It was March 2008, I was getting ready for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Championship and my Sensei suggested me to do it so I did it. I (and everyone else) though I was in pretty good shape, but I couldn't run for more than 10 minutes in a row - and just hated it.
That intrigued me so I started running regularly. It's not that I was enjoying it, but I've always been that kind of person who is good at every sport - and I couldn't believe I failed in the (apparently) simplest one.
Time has past (I won the Jiu-Jitsu Nationals by the way) and I started noticing great improvements on my physical condition: running was providing me with skills I wouldn't get by training specifically for other sports.
However, I never ran more than 10Km in a single session. Why would I do it? It wasn't even my sport at all.
In the meantime (2009) I started my Bachelor in Physical Education and Sports and as a trainer I also used running as a tool of fitness development and training complement of many other disciplines.
But my personal running story goes on as follows: to get some extra points for University, I once enrolled for a half-marathon. That was in 2010 and without having ever tried the distance before, I finished it in 2 hours 15 minutes.
One year later, chasing extra academic points, I ran the same event in 2 hours 07 minutes.
Importantly, I still didn't love running at that point, but at least I already had a favourite distance: The shortest possible!!!
Another time has past, many things happened in my life and in May 2016 I moved to The Netherlands: a place I always wanted to live despite the cold and wet (usually shitty) weather.
However, this was a new and uncertain life where every cent counts. And I didn't have any extra money to spend with sports, so I decided I would just run (5Km per session preferably) until I reached a stable financial condition that would allow me to get back on whatever I choose to do.
Then I met Bas!
Bas runs long distances and 5Km sessions were not enough to warm me up anymore. It was October and, therefore, getting colder. So I ran 10Km (my long and his short run) every now and than with him. I must say I struggled with the pace on the beginning: I had to learn how to run slowly before I finally started enjoying running for more than 20-25 minutes.
This same guy, who happens to be my boyfriend now, also introduced me to trail running. I probably knew the difference already, but I actually never though about it: running in the nature - of course. He would run a 30Km trail at the end of November and I said I would like to join him sometime. He suggested me to go for the 15Km version of the same event and five minutes latter I told him I already signed up.
- It's a trail. It's a bit different from what you are used to but I'm sure you can manage those 15Km.
At that point we had run 15Km two or three times I guess. And, if my memory can be trusted, even a 21Km once.
- Hmm Nice! But I'm actually going for the 30Km too!!!
And he stared at me with that face people, for some reason, regularly look at me with. It usually means "You're fu&%$ng insane."
We ran together that day and I knew that was it. I felt completely in love - not just with that man, but with trail running.
One month after that we were making plans to travel together and I said I would like to visit Terschelling - a Dutch Island where my great grandfather was born - and Bas found out it would be a trail run there ten months ahead. I immediately said I was in. He then asked which distance I would like to run: there were 15, 25 and 50Km options.
50Km, I said.
Many people choose to run their first ultra on the road because it is, at some point, safer: you normally know what comes ahead. On the trail you can never be sure about what comes next. On the other hand, you rarely get bored since you must always be aware of where to step or how to manage the track.
At Tershelling, I barely though about the distance. The route was so beautiful and so challenging I just kept going until the moment I realised I was tired. That happened around Km 35. I didn't feel any pain, just heavy legs and a general tiredness.
So I tried to look at thinks from the outside:
ISSUE NUMBER 1:
- I am tired.
- Why am I tired? Because I've been running for hours.
- Why am I FEELING tired? Probably because I lost my concentration.
ISSUE NUMBER 2:
- There are 15Km to go.
- Can I still run?: Yes, I guess.
- Is my desire to finish the race greater than my tiredness? Yes.
And I also though about everything I did in order to get ready for that moment and on how much I wanted to be there. I then focused on what had to be done at that moment and just kept going: one step after another.
Of course it wasn't easy. It wasn't supposed to be. Nobody runs ultra marathons because it's easy. People do it because it's hard - an usually as harder it is, the better!!!
After crossing the finish line and sitting down for a while I found Bas waiting for me. He said he was proud of me and I kind of believed this time!!! We then walked another 1,5Km to the place we were staying and where the dogs, apparently also proud, were waiting for us! I set down with them for a while, I thanked them for existing, for training with me and for being there and finally gave them their ID medals back - which I took with me along the race as a lucky charm.
This is a day I will never forget. I am an ultra (trail) runner.
And I run on Raidlight and Vibram Five Fingers Thanks to Steenbok Sport ( www.steenboksport.nl ).