“Most of all, the ultra distance leaves you alone with your thoughts to an excruciating extent. Whatever song you have in your head had better be a good one. Whatever story you are telling yourself had better be a story about going on. There is no room for negativity. The reason most people quit has nothing to do with their body”
Scott Jurek; Steve Friedman, “Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness”
“When I’m out on a long run,” she continued, “the only thing in life that matters is finishing the run. For once, my brain isn’t going blehblehbleh all the time. Everything quiets down, and the only thing going on is pure flow. It’s jus time and the movement and the motion.That’s what love–just being a barbarian, running through the woods.”
― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
“The great outdoors” presented by the valley near the Lookout Mountain hummed under my bikes airbars. It was my second loop. Two loops make the course of Ironman Chattanooga, set aside minor differences in course layout. I was on my own for the most of the 5,5 hours out of those 6 I spent on the course.
At first there was chatter with fellow triathletes riding the same route. Then I broke off and headed up. I knew the route: since the time I rode it once in a cold slit rain without any rain gear, in a company of some great athletes leading the way. Since the time I made it in heat of Southeastern June after 4.5 miles swim.I had enough of food and water for the journey. All I wanted is to be there within certain time, with predefined effort.
After some time I was on my own with the tennis balls of my thoughts roaming in my head chaotically.
“You will have enough time for talking to people in your head” – said a fellow triathete once, referring to the Ironman course.
Technically you don’t need to do much on a bike on a long training ride, so there is a space for multi-tasking thinking. For some time that was exactly what was happening: I kept talking – in my mind. To those whom I didn’t have chance to talk to anymore. To my friends. To God. After some time prolonged thoughts turned to short
After some time there was nothing but the simplicity of movement.
And the warm honeyed fragrance of drying wild field grass. And the hum of my bike.
“There is no room for negativity” – said Scott Jurek
Long distance athletes bring themselves out there for hours. And keep going. After hours had passed and hours are there to go. You can not do these hours of effort having a minor splinter stuck in your mind. You can not pull yourself through the course having any anchors holding you back. There is a moment when you have to go on using your will only. And you’d better know how you are going to act when this moment comes. You have to train it, pass through it in different environment, in different weather, many times. In order to understand what it takes to keep moving forward.
Once you step over that moment, I promise – you will discover the endless pool of energy you never knew it existed.
I tapped into the void somewhere after mile 80. At the “fake flats” of the second loop.Later on there was the buzz of the Chickamauga city, the noise of the cars. But before that came on me – I rolled in humming silence. There were no anchors or splinters. I let it all go, I no longer had chatter with people in my mind. I did not hold any anger or was not disturbed by anything. I accepted my weaknesses. I accepted how small I am – a tiny dot of a cyclist moving alone on a long road looping around a large valley. Acceptance brought humility. I prayed.
There was no yesterday with emotional 20 mile run.
There was no tomorrow with work week to be started.
I was all focused and present on – now.
I could reach out and feel the breath of Life at my fingertips. In this serenity and peace I was gliding at it’s thin curtain. My mind was like a calm surface of water at sunrise.
I’ve got one more “Peaceful place”. The last one I discovered was the Destin 50 ultra-running course. Now, if the stream of tasks overflows, if “the world closes in” I turn to the vast peacfull silence I found at the valley near to the Lookout Mountain
What is your “Peaceful Place”?