So I stood there, feeling the wind around me, looking at people getting ready. It was cold and a lot of other people didn´t prepare for that, luckily I did. I was prepared, I was ready but then I took one look at the mountain and the wall and I got a little bit scared. I was about to run those stairs …. TWICE.. What in the world did I get myself in to. Training for 8 months for this and I was sure I was prepared, but not really.
Second wave go to the start-line. -“come on, Morten now is the time”.
So I stood there feeling the wind around me, oddly the band was playing jingle bells, but everybody was singing along, it was weird and funny, -“why not” –“jingle bells, jungle bells, jingle all the way”
My mom had found a good spot so she could take pictures of me. Gun shot, go go go.
I was in the race, everybody was walking because we were to many people to run. We made it out to the road – run man , run…
“find your tempo, not to fast, you have a wall with stairs to climp later” –“hmm something is wrong, my stomach”.
I felt something wrong in my stomach, as if I had been eaten to much before the run, it piled up in my throat. I kept on running. It started to climb, we were running at a mountain to get up to the wall. The climb was about 7-9% not the steepest in the world, but I still saw people stop to walk. –“my god they are going to have a tough time getting through the run, no matter which distance”.
I kept on running, getting a bottle of water in my hand preparing for the wall. You see my only goal was to run the whole way, so I ran the hill and there it was, stairs and a lot of them. My god it seemed easy, I ran up those stairs and I was very positive. I thought to myself: -“I am going to do good today”.
After 1k of running stairs, we hit the incredible high steps. We are talking between 30-50 centimeters high, you had to jump to get up to the next step. Bam there it was, the realizing of what I was actually doing.
The very positive me, started to get nervous because I felt my calfs already, and that was just to early. I kept on running, it was hard, and people around my obviously didn´t read the damn manual. –Keep to the right if you are walking so those who are running can pass by. I started to yell at people in front of me, keep to the Fu****g right people, some of us are trying to run this distance.
Yet again I couldn´t really understand the ones who had entered the marathon, but was walking the mountain and the stairs. My stomach was not with me, every time I was drinking a zip of water it filled me up with nausea. I had to stay positive, hoping it would go away. I was still running those stairs as if I was running for my life, my stomach was killing me, but my legs were awesome. The steep downstair run was up. You see it wasn´t really stairs, but also there were a few steps. It was kind of like running a hill but on very uneven rocks. It was broken ankles waiting to happen. I was extremely concentrated when running those part, holding on to the railing very firm.
I got down in one piece and I felt good, we had to go through ying yang square again to go to the small villages around. Run man, RUN. The stairs were 26k away but it was the the route I just ran in the opposite direction. The goat walk up hill and not down. 3k of stairs uphill, was waiting for me. My stomach was still killing me, but my feet started to be annoying to. Luckily I prepared for blisters, I ran around with blister bandage, so I had to stop and use 15 minutes to attend my blisters. Ready to go again. 17k I didn´t touch my energy gels because my stomach couldn’t handle them, I had to get some energy so I took one. Felt nauseas again. Just had to keep it in me.
Everytime we hit a small town area, there were kids wanting highfives. I took upon myself to spread a little joy and maybe not think about my stomach. Those kids were cheering and so happy when you reached out to high-five.
BAM who the hell put alpe d’huez in the middle of this marathon. My got it was steep and it just continued. I ran the first 2k up hill, and then my goal fell through, the lack of energy gels and my stomach hurting, made me stop to walk. I hated myself, for not being able to run the whole way. New tactic the time is the aim, I was walking for a kilometer, just to start running again.
Usually my half marathons are between 1.35 and 1.40, so my time said a lot about how hard this route was. I still had problems with the stomach and the gels were hard to swallow, even the water was hard to get down, but the sun was scorching and I definitely needed to stay hydrated. I have tried to run 30 kilometers before only on food I had been eating before. So I wasn´t that worried, I knew I would complete with or without the energy gels, but given I wanted a good time, I forced them down.
Finally, running downhill… Let the feet roll and take it slow, I found a rhythm again and was on my way, a couple of kilometers and bam, the next mountain climb hit me in the face, the rhythm was disrupted and yet again I had to walk, I hated myself for every step I took, I was better than this, I knew I normally could do much better, for god sake, my personal record for a regular marathon is 3.18.
I hated the fact that my energy level was so low, that it took me down. I was still optimistic, the time wasn´t running away from me, and when the downhill run started I found a good rhythm again. RUN man RUN.
On my way back to the second round on the wall I saw a lot of people running in towards me, they were just on the way after their first wall run, obviously all of them started in start wave 4 which was 20 minutes later than me, but I felt sorry for them, cause a lot of them didn´t look that good and they had 30k ahead of them, with an extra round on the wall.
I came to ying and yang square again and started my second wall run, I had no energy, and still couldn´t really drink or eat my gels. Hmm I ran the first couple of stairs, then the goat-walk started. I overtook some people but had to realize, I simply couldn´t run this stretch, so I started powerwalking the stairs, double steps, even that took my breath away, totally exhausted. The lack of energy was now showing its face. It showed its ugly face and it was punishing me. I saw people around me, sitting on the stairs taking long breaks. Saw a few who had given up and just sat there waiting for help to get down. There was especially one American who was in problems, his buddy walked right behind me, none of the water-givers were able to speak any English, so he had to borrow a phone to call his wife to get here to get people up there.
My god, I got a second wind, this shouldn´t be me, I would not give up for any reason what so ever, my time aim was way gone, and now I was aiming for six hours. After a lot of suffering, walking up 6k of stairs, I was on my way back to the finish line, but suddenly the downhill towards the finish line was excruciating. I started to run, but my stomach was aching. Not the same problem as my whole run, this time it was a throbbing pain from my right abs. I ran again, it was painful, but I continued, I didn´t have time to walk anymore, I was running to get under six hours.
I was 2k from the finish line I did it, I “got damn” did it. Then I saw her, I woman running a marathon like me, on her back there was a picture of her husband in a military uniform, he was dead three weeks before. Properly they planned to run this marathon together, but he died. My god, I was almost in tears that was a tough one to swallow. That make me think about the people I lost and how they weren´t here to see me complete, the exact same thoughts when I completed my half ironman. The last 1k I was on the edge of tears, but I was also happy, cause once more I did it. I put the thought in my head 8 months ago, that I would complete on of the toughest marathons in the world, as my first official marathon.
Finish line, medal around my neck and there was my mom to take a picture.
I wasn´t as smashed up as I thought I would be, the pain on the route was mostly from my stomach and lack of energy, my legs were still good to go, so I knew right there that I didn´t give myself a 100% because of my stomach. I hated it, because I knew how much time I lost because of that, 1 hour. Hmm…
Now today it is Tuesday and I am back with my family, my home in Maling mountain. I have looked at my medal so many times and as an athlete I have to reflect upon why my run didn´t go as planned.
I have thought long about it, and I think it was the banana I ate before my run. I simply panicked and ate this banana because I ironic enough was afraid of running low with energy. At least I think that was it, because usually I take a caffeine pill before competitions, but this time I didn´t I saved it for when I was over halfway, and I should have done it the other way around.
I came in 30 out of 100+ in my age group, and given I can´t get a full finish list, I have calculated that I ended up around number 90 out of 300+. So in the good part of the standings. I know that if I did it in 5 hours then I would have become 15 in my age group. The problem is that if I ever have to run this wall again, which I would like to, then I have to pay 15000 kuai for it because, when you do not run it as a local runner you have to buy a package deal which is expensive. That is why I have a hard time dealing with the results. I feel a little I can´t seem to get rid of that feeling, but yet again I know I ran a good time, and did quite well for myself, but it takes time to convince yourself, but I will get there.
When you run a marathon like the great wall marathon it gives you a lot of time to think, I did think a lot about why and who I was doing this for. Obviously I did this for myself and only me, simply to challenge myself and my own physique. I go all in on these adventures, because I know I can complete them and I want to be able to look back and think, my god I did those things.
Also I ran the marathon in a Maling mountain shaolin t-shirt, first of all to give my home some publicity, but also to remember where I come from, where I trained for this and how I trained for this. How my masters completely understood I wanted to run extra and train for this. So I also ran with my whole kung fu family in my head. My god, when I came home, I came home to sentences like: “you have been missed” and “he is baaaack”, and everyone was curious about my run and asked me about. It felt good to be home again, and see all the people around me. I love my kung fu family, there will never be any doubt about that.
I also ran this for my friends who didn´t live to see this day, they were and always are in my head and heart everywhere I go and obviously for all my friends I met through my international and national adventures. I found most of my friends by taking chances and I will never regret taking a chance.
So this was another adventure I had in my life journey, and it all started with a dream about training kung fu several years ago, then I found this school, came here and then the next dream was born. I have a dream of completing an ironman in the future, that is why I wanted to complete a marathon first.
So all in all, my adventure happened because of thought, which lead to the best kung fu family in the world, a place you can be yourself, a place you can train and get guidance, a place where you can breathe, a place where you can train things beyond kung fu, a place where you find friends and you are becoming a family.
This place is Maling mountain kung fu academy – it all starts with a thought, just remember to follow that thought into a dream. While you are living one dream other dreams are born.
This is me sitting in my home, looking at my running shoes, getting ready for my last two months here and getting ready for my next goal – medals in the kung fu competition, and when I come back to Denmark, an Ironman is the goal.
More to come