Sometimes GIVING UP is actually WINNING.
Never give up. Always push through all the misery and pain. Don’t give in. Fight. Endure. The pain is only in your head. When your mind is strong, you can move (and run) mountains.
I think the above pretty much sums up my life. If there is a challenge, I’m all in. And by all I mean ALL, not 70% or 80% but 120%. Every single time. And it doesn’t matter what challenge it is: be it a work one, relationship one or a sports one. Is there a challenge? Count me in! When I worked in UK my nickname was “Czech bulldog”. Looking at it back I am not entirely sure that I like it.
Therefore when I heard about Aletsch half marathon in Switzerland… a trail half marathon in which you climb up to 2650 metres above sea level an which takes you along the longest glaciers in the Alps, I knew I have to run it.
I signed up and talked one of my friends into it as well. Thanks, Markéta!
Our plan was to fly to Milan, spend a night and a day in Italy eating ice cream and pasta, renting a car and driving over to Switzerland for the race. After the race we planned to drive back to Milan to catch our flight back home to Prague. And this is exactly what we did.
We flew to Milan, had a glass of wine and some food, slept and went for a little morning run which we finished with perfect cappuccino and even more perfect chocolate croissant (It was warm = Heaven!).
On Saturday afternoon we arrived to the majestic mountains. I don’t know about you, but the one word which always crosses my mind when I am standing close to high mountains is: RESPECT. This time, since I knew I will be running on them, it was more words which kept creeping into my mind: mainly it was HOLY SHIT, swiftly followed by: WHAT THE HELL DID I SIGN UP FOR.
This was going to be my first proper trail race with proper hill climb in proper altitude. Later on, it also turned out that it was the first race where I had to travel by cable car to pick up my start number. Pretty cool, eh?!
In the morning, after a great breakfast, when we got to the start (again by a cable car), I fell in love with the race atmosphere immediately. There is something super special about trail runs and the camaraderie amongst all the runners. Really. And talking about camaraderie, Markéta and I made a deal with each other, that we run the whole race together, no matter what. We stood in our starting corridor and off we went…
I loved the atmosphere, I even loved that it was foggy and misty and there were no views, but I felt “funny” pretty much from the beginning. From the very beginning I couldn’t catch my breath, even where there was a very mild incline. Odd. After the first 10k I started to feel a bit dizzy, after 15k my stomach started to feel really strange and between 16th and 18th km I started to throw up.
To sum it up I really did not feel okay. I walked couple of meters and then I had to sit down for a bit how dizzy I was, then walk again. But I was determined to finish.
“The pain is only in my head.
When I really focus my mind I can do it.
Only 3k to the finish line.
I can crawl if I have to, but I really want to finish.”
If I didn’t have Markéta with me, this is what I would have probably done. I would have probably gotten to the finish line but who knows how I would feel then. But luckily I had Markéta with me, who told me that I have altitude sickness and that I am not okay and on 18th km she put me in a cable car back down from the mountain. I cried the whole way down feeling sick and sorry for myself. As soon as I got back to below 2000m I felt absolutely fine. No dizziness, no funny stomach.
There was a lot of “firsts” and a lot of lessons learned that day. It was my first time giving up a race, first time learning about and experiencing altitude sickness. But these were just the little learnings. The main learning was that sometimes, even if you really want and even if you put all your will power to it, it just isn’t enough. And that sometimes it is stupid to try to force something that should not be forced. And mainly that knowing when to give up actually means winning!
Knowing when to give up is hard. Not only in races but also in life. In nowadays world giving up is perceived as being a wimp and not strong enough. But I think that actually being able to know when to give up requires much more will power, determination and guts than just simply pushing all the time. One of my old bosses always told me: Babeta, choose your battles. From now on this is what I will do even more, especially when it comes to physical challenges.
Giving up is not for wimps but for strong people who have all the will power and determination in the world!
Are you strong enough to know when to give up?
Have you ever given up a race?
Do you know how to choose which battle to fight and which to give up?
P.S. I will be forever thankful to Markéta for making me take that cable car.
P.P.S. Of course I am coming back next year to conquer even the last 3k BUT I will make sure that I will arrive couple of days beforehand and give my body a chance to fully acclimatize so the altitude doesn’t do a thing to me.
P.P.P.S. I am in awe of everyone who is strong enough to know when to give up. Especially when you know you are being watched and cheered on by thousands of people! (Claudi, you are truly amazing and a massive INSPIRATION!)
Categories: my RUNNING