Week 24: 10-16 Oct
A humbling experience in my first North Face trail race on 15 Oct, where I encountered the first of many incidences never before experienced in previous races:
I started out strong and fast on a lovely Saturday morn, but barely 8km into the run, I threw up by the side path, emptying my stomach of fuel necessary for my run.
10km into the run, an excruciating pain shot through my right knee. Unwilling to give up and walk, I limped and hobbled the remaining 15km to the finish line, despite the pain that refused to subside.
Weaknesses humble us. It humbled me for sure. I hobbled in dejection as runner after runner overtook me on the trail - some looked back in sympathy and asked if I was alright; some zoomed past in a flash.
Still, I kept moving, focused on putting one foot in front of the other, fueled by a fire that wouldn't stop burning in my heart.
In the midst of my personal struggle, a guy struggling with both cramped legs dropped onto the side path and asked for help. I stopped to massaged his legs; before long another runner came along and gave aid. We didn't care much about lost time; in moments of struggle, human compassion overtakes it all.
As I ran/limped/hobbled along to the finish, I greatly appreciated the camaraderie among runners that day - the ones who kept moving forward despite their bodily struggle and pain, the encouragement from fellow runners to keep on keeping on, those who share of their supplies with others, and those who stopped to help others in need.
As my pain increased and my pace decreased, a group of guys ran alongside me and encouraged me to keep pushing - "only 1km to go" - they shouted. Like a turn of a switch, I ignored my legs, opened up my stride and increased pace.
I must have looked comical attempting to run with a limping right leg, and was half piqued that it wasn't 1 km to the finish line - it was about 2.5km. But I was thankful for those guys nonetheless - had it not been for them, I wouldn't have pushed myself to sprint to the end, and finished in a decent time, considering all the mishaps and stops during the run.
As I complete my first North Face 50km Duo Trail Race, I learnt that it's not always about winning or running the fastest split, but a humility in loving the sport and building camaraderie between fellow runners to overcome each of our own weaknesses and achieve our personal goals.