My first attempt at the 20km of Brussels race was, without a doubt, the most strenuous run I have taken part in so far.
Leading up to the race
Having had the brilliant idea of finishing my last training week with the overzealous tackling of a few hills, I ended up with a pain in my leg that spread from behind my knee right up to my buttock, and this only days before the race. To make things worse, it hurt even when I walked.
Needless to say, this did nothing to alleviate my pre-run nerves but I was doing my utmost to keep my mind in check and refrain from indulging in less than constructive brooding.
I might add that I have my husband to thank for not letting me despair or feel sorry for myself.
Trying my best to shake all negativity off, I geared myself into a Rocky style ‘no pain’ mode in the hope of avoiding a disappointing DNF. After all, I had an objective to fulfill and I was not about to chicken out on account of this blooming pain in the backside.
Now I should probably mention that I am fully aware of the risks that such a competition entails – especially under such conditions – and that any number of setbacks may come in the way of a carefree trot towards the finish line.
No amount of proper training, nutrition, rest, optimal energy etc. can ever guarantee a totally injury-free, strong and triumphant outcome, and by that I mean finish in the one piece.
Having said that, given my predicament, anyone with half a brain would have told me to do the ‘right’ thing here and sit this one out.
Clearly, this was not meant to happen and I will not argue whether or not any parts of my brain are missing…
When the going gets tough
As I scuttled along, the back of my leg gradually stiffened and, at a fairly early stage, it took just about all I had to bite the bullet and give it my all.
When you get to 5 km and find yourself thinking ‘damn, how much longer?’, let’s just say you need to find that extra something within you to simply not give up.
On the whole, I did alright and only missed my goal by one minute which, all things considered, was good enough for me and definitely more than I had bargained for.
The mind and its tricks
During the days following the race, as the pain lessened, I told myself that things couldn’t possibly have been all that bad and that the pomp and circumstance had played with my imagination, leading me to wallow in self-pity.
The whitewashing effect was crushed when I saw the pictures taken of me during the race: every single one of them testifies to a battle between body and mind, with one bidding the other in vain to stop!
Furthermore, my next run which was meant to stretch things out a little, was a painful reminder of what my body had endured.
Nevertheless, the experience – one of humility and tenacity – leaves me confident that I haven’t seen the worst of it.