running log #10

Today was a milestone in my life as a runner. Oh yes it was. It was the day that, during a race, I had to go find a tree. And it was not because I needed to pee.

I’ve heard quite a few stories about runners who had stomach problems during races. At first, I was surprised. Then, I laughed at the hilarious situations that some runners found themselves in because of their intestines. Finally, I felt lucky that this didn’t seem to affect me. Until today.

It was a hot day, and the race was due to start in the afternoon in the sunny region of Valais. I caught the train at lunchtime and had my lunch on the train (pasta, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes – never again). Then I caught the funiculaire up to the little village of Venthône, where the race starts and heads up to the Bénou (the dialect for Bisse Neuf). Bisses are irrigation canals that take water from the mountain streams down to the prairies and the farms. There are many walking paths along the historical bisses of Valais and this race follows one of them.

I met up with “my” kids and ran the kids race, which was only 1 km. At this point, I felt a little cramp in my stomach, but thought it would pass once I started running the longer race. When this one started, it headed straight up into the forest, climbing steeply until 5 km.

Because the first km of the race are so steep, everyone was walking. Even so, it was really hot, it was strenuous, it was challenging. By this point, I felt a little nauseous and my stomach was cramping. I didn’t give it too much thought, because sometimes I have stomach cramps (though I haven’t had for a long time) and they usually pass after a few minutes. I thought it was the effort.

So, when I got to the highest point of the race, I drank some water, stopped for a few seconds, breathed and thought that, as it was all downhill from there, I should be fine soon.

But no.

10 seconds into the descent, I knew there was no escape. I had to find a tree. So I found a kind of rock-tree spot and, there, I wasted 10 precious minutes of my race. From my “throne”, I could see all the people running by. But I didn’t even care anymore.

When I finally got back into the race, I was alone. No one in front of me, no one behind me. To this moment, I don’t even know if I came last. With all the competitive spirit completely gone (also a little bit of my pride), and because I was still feeling queasy, I headed down slowly, trying to forget my stomach, and at least enjoying the view. I chatted with the volunteers at the ravitaillements, I took pictures of the waterfalls and the pretty path along the bisse.

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When I ran back into the village, the kids were waiting for me and ran with me to the finish line, hooting with laughter when I told them about my adventure.

It was not my most glorious moment, but apparently it is something that affects a large number of runners. So, I am not taking my food intake before a race for granted EVER AGAIN.

In the end, to cap it all off, instead of a medal, the finishing prize for everyone was…

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A cheese!

  • Pain : 10/10
  • Embarrassment: 10/10
  • Ability to laugh at myself: 10/10
  • Scenery: 10/10

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