Shanghai Running Magazine Volume 3 - Page 15

I Learned About Running From That by Ray Heraty In addition to not being very good at running, I have lots of other hobbies that I’m equally not good at. One of these is videography, or as it’s known by those forced to watch, home movies. It was only a matter of time until my two hobby lives crossed paths and so over the last year I’ve made several movies about running. My first real effort, about Shanghai running founder Nourredine Sahibi’s epic effort at Leadville last year has been modestly popular on Youtube and has had the unfortunate side effect of egging me on to make more running themed movies. Technology has aided this effort as cameras are lighter and smaller than ever. I have a cellphone that has a decent video camera built in and I also own a GoPro 3, an absolutely wonderful and tiny full HD camera that is light enough to carry on pretty much any run. I decided to try to capture the atmosphere and spirit of the recent Ultra Trail Mt Fuji, a 168km jog around said mountain. At the start line I realized my GoPro was out of power leaving me only with my cell phone camera. I didn’t get a whole lot of useable footage from the race but I do have one memorable clip that I’ve watched a few times. Let me describe it to you. I’m sitting somewhere on the slopes of Mount Kenashi, the highest peak in the Tenshi Mountains, by far the most brutally soul crushing, leg mangling, runner destroying section of the race. This is a 15 km section, described by elite ultra-runner Nick Clark as the toughest part of ANY race he has experienced, a section that takes the average plodder like myself, about 7 hours to complete (for 15km!). Anyway, I’m sitting one the side of the trail somewhere in this section, a white Tera Tera Bozu (Japanese ghost doll) visible over my right shoulder. And this is what I say: “Future Ray, listen to me! These ultra-races are a terrible idea. Do not, I repeat, do not sign up for any more of these races under any circumstances. They are not fun, they are hours and hours of absolute misery! Don’t do it! Heed my warning!” Naturally, less than four weeks later, I’m thinking about why I chose to ignore this very precise, very clear advice given by someone whom I trust absolutely (me!). I’m thinking about it while completely dehydrated, no longer able to flex my quad muscles about 7 miles from the finish of the Kettle 100, a relatively easy 100 mile race in rural Wisconsin. At least it would have been easy had it not been 30 degrees celcius by 9am. Sure, this race was fun for a while despite the hot weather and the extensive sections of shad less open prairie, but it isn’t fun anymore. It stopped being fun right about the time I threw up on one of my crew members an aid station or three ago (this time captured on camera live in glorious HD). Really it was her fault – she hadn’t made me drink enough water during the preceding 12 hours leading to the state I’m in now. I’m so dehydrated it takes me 18 minutes to chew and swallow one jelly bean (I know © Shanghai Running 2014 this because my pacer is making me eat every 15 minutes but when he hands me one on schedule, I’m still working on the jelly bean he gave me previously and I have to explain that my mouth is full). My pacer and I are joined by another running, Jeff, who’s headlight battery has run out and he’s forced to hobble to the finish with me. An experienced hundred miler, he’s remarkably in almost exactly as bad a shape as I am. He too is totally dehydrated – unable to bend his knees, and mentally cursing every step. He has signed up for the Midwest Grand Slam, four 100 mile races in 8 weeks across the central US, and wonders what insanity prompted him to engage in such deluded fantasy. Right now, like me, he’s wondering why we can’t be happy running 10ks or perhaps taking up recreational chess. Runners all have bad days whether at the track or on the treadmill or the trail no matter the distance or speed. I remember the first time I went for a run. I could barely run a block without my chest burning so hard I thought it would explode. How did I ever get over that? Those early runs were so hideously difficult and painful but somehow you get through it and get to a point where you can run 2k, then 5 and 10 and so on. I think that’s what makes a runner though. It’s not how far you run or how fast you run, it’s that you keep coming back for more. More of the good and plenty more of the bad. On the trail Jeff and I are hating life. 15