Going David LANEY | Part 3 – TGC

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My training prior Transgrancanaria (TGC) was hampered. It’s because I had twisted my ankle few times and couldn’t precisely follow the plan. You can imagine how one feels when something restrains you from doing what you really love. In normal conditions I would take some rest and let my body recover. However common standards are not for ultra runners. What is said is done. I shouted at my tired body, “Shut up!”, taped the traitor foot and got back to training. No excuses!

Being already in Gran Canaria and counting the days until the big day comes, I still felt pain. It made me anxious as I was not sure how it will go from there. Finally I decided to give my feet last chance to prove if they are worth anything. I am a man of habits and every time I go to TGC, I do training on the same course. It gives me an answer where exactly I am: if I need to rest, train more or simply pack the stuff and go home. Sort of last check up before the race. I didn’t want to make an exception this year so I decided: I’ll kill my ankles for good or make them loyal again. I think they got the lesson. My standard run from Agaete to Artenara was great, actually the best one in recent years – it boosted my confidence and from that moment I knew the race would be just great!

Ultra Trail World Tour venues are good occasion to meet friends and runners from all around the world, people who share the same passion. Although I like challenging myself during the races, the time spent with them on the trails prior the running events are no less important and even more fun. Each year TGC brings more and more talents to the island and this time field of athletes was impressive as well. This naturally formed the question, which persecuted me all the time: – “do I feel pressure?”

Coping with pressure is one of the keys to success. So, another task for me before TGC was to get rid of tension. I still remember the painful lesson I received at Gran Raid Reunion, but what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. And this is exactly what happened to me. I found a remedy that made me immune to stress – my family! As long as they are next to me, nobody can get under my skin. This time they were with me, so I felt secure and serene, ready to make TGC my day.

I believe family is the best dope ever invented (should I be disqualified for using my closest ones as illegal substances?) as it boosts your motivation, self-confidence and lets you fly from one aid station to another. Basically this is what happened to me this time as well. My family’s presence added me wings, which carried me kilometer by kilometer closer to the finish line and further from my rivals. I felt amazing, my feet were finally tamed and didn’t create much problems. The entire run went at lightning speed and I was able to sustain this crazy pace till the finish line, improving my TGC time once again. Although I finished second I am so thrilled to be back on track – the future looks bright!

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Going David LANEY | Part 1

 

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Time

I’ve been keeping my blog nearly dead for quite some time now. It’s not that I don’t like to write anymore, it’s simply that I found less and less time to do so. ‘Time steals time’, my good fellow told me once. And he was damn right!

Life is so dynamic and goes so fast, sometimes too fast. If I wanted to run, race, dream, develop new projects and of course do my regular office job I had to sacrifice something, which really means a lot to me. My family. Nothing new in our society, but it still hurts. Moreover, my too much structured life, obligations that have no sense at all, office job with no real value, all these self-enslavement activities were absorbing me. I felt that I was going against everything I believe in. I lost the peace of mind. I got frustrated.

Feelings

I was lucky in few races and running community started to believe in me. Knowing how ultrarunning evolved in the last few years and how many new talents are joining the sport make such expectations ridiculous. So, all this pressure started to influence me and led to the “volcano eruption” in Reunion, where I totally lost control of my mind. Finally Diagonale des Fous  was a disaster, which I never would like to repeat.

Did I suffered from overtraining syndrome or had I been racing too much? Was it the end of my career, as it happened to many trail runners who wanted to compete too much and too fast? This is how I felt and those were the demons that I fought at the end of 2015 looking towards 2016 with horror.

Plan

In such moments I prefer either retreat or completely destroy myself. This time I didn’t want to listen the whim of traitorous body and I chose adventurous self-destruction. I decided to jump in some Ultra Trail World Tour  race ASAP. After all, dying without fight is not in my blood!

I divided 2016 running season in two parts with recovery period in between. My final racing plan looked like this:

  1. Vibram Hong Kong 100  – A race. Do my best and check if I am not too fat after the winter. Transgrancanaria – B+ race. Play safe and try to repeat last year’s success.
  2. Enjoy the life, 3R (Rock’n’Roll, Recuperation) and come back to training strong with no injuries. Spend some quality time in Lithuanian mountains J – nope, but anyway somehow do vertical training.
  3. Lavaredo Ultra Trail  – B race. Check if I’m on the right track with my training and spend some cheerful time with friends from Trail Running Team VibramUltra Trail du Mont Blanc  – A race. Avoid blisters so early in the race, sleep till Gran Col Ferret and then go 2015 David Laney (can read crazy fast) to close the gap and finish strong. Last but not the least, go for a ride with Gintare and boys on @vibram sole factor’s truck. Grand Raid Reunion – A+ race. Fly to the island earlier and have fun prior the run not to be distracted by its beauty during the race. Less media, FB and other socials – proper rest and clear mind is priority, so no buzz as well. Put all in – revenge!

The Follower

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Running long distances without friends – boring. Sure, it is a little bit pity that not all folks are fit to run all those harsh kilometers on uneven terrain during the night, but one of them is more than willing to do so all the time. At least, it is the case with me, but I am pretty sure that those, who run a lot, meets him now and then. He is tougher than me, but very arrogant. So, usually he laughs at my pace, posture and running technique and almost everything I do. He becomes really furious during my weak moments, because he can’t stand weakness. His slogan “life begins where the comfort zone ends” makes him and me who we are.

In fact, Transgrancanaria 125km was his idea. I remember how first time he came up with it during Zugspitz Ultratrail 100km and stated that total +5420 ascent is for pussies and the real men must do much more. I tried to oppose this idea, because we were in the middle way to Scharnitzjoch – 2048m peak and the legs were screaming something completely different, but this bastard was very convincing. Moreover, can you imagine his joy when we signed for the race and ascent was increased from +7500m up to +8500m. Unbelievable!

So, after almost half a year I was on this incredible island in the crowd of amigos, hypnotized by magnificent atmosphere of the harbor city Agaete. But the only thing I wished to do was straightly jump into this unexplored territory and disappear in the darkness. Must to admit, holding yourself in front of start line is the most difficult part of the races. I do hate being in one place for a long time and this is just about that, seriously, it is not my thing to do. The more time I have before the start – the more anxious I become. This time I was more relaxed, simply didn’t have any big goals, because the field of athletes were scaring itself. Almost twenty world-class runners were ready to beat each other to death. Frankly, each time when race organizers were announcing my name and I was compared to them, I felt uncomfortable. It is some kind of pressure, which others are putting on you with their expectations. Believe me, this trust sometimes is dangerous stuff to play with.

Race started like a gust of fresh air before the storm, everything seemed so vital and vibrant, so unreal. The ground under my feet was breathing, letting balls of the dust from its lungs.

–  Don’t be so sensitive, – I heard my friend – I sick of you and your sentiments, be the man, it’s long way ahead.

–  Come on, it is so beautiful. All those headlamp lights are like a huge snake sliding up to Tamadaba peak. Look, there will be the stream, which I couldn’t pass last week during my reconnaissance run.

–  Shut your fucking mouth, stupid, watch where and what you are stepping on, concentrate!

It was too late I have stepped on one of the volcanic rocks, lost my balance and almost fall. My buddy was smiling. I hated this self-assured bastard, but he was right, I had to be more vigilant.

Having pretty much the same conversations all way long we reached first aid station, luckily, loud music separated us and for a while I could enjoy arts of the nature, soft whisper of the wind and most important loneliness. I was entering the area in which I did training with Nuria Picas and Yeray Duran few days ago, but the night had changed it unrecognizable. I felt that my orientating ability was vanishing, so I was following runners in front of me, but doing so is a bit irresponsible, because trail running is one of the most dangerous sports and if you want to survive you can’t loose your attention so easy.

–  Finally you got it, Mr. Obvious, – shouted my pal, happy as hell, seeing my tiredness.

–  You never shut up, do you?

This journey wasn’t an adventure anymore, because I wasn’t in charge. My mate didn’t let me to rest, he pushed me very hard and it seemed that he knew my limits and stuff like that. Some friends are better some worse, but usually you can choose whom are you willing to spent time with. This badass absolutely different story, he was all the time with me and I couldn’t get rid of him. Really? I started to sprint towards Valleseco hoping that it will give me some space between him and me.

–  It is not going to happen, – he yelled from the back.

I ignored him, said nothing more, just speeded up and for my surprise in vicinity of Teror caught Christophe Le Saux. The very first time I started to believe that I can do a good race here, but the french didn’t want to give up so quickly. Actually, he was up to something. All the time, while we were running together the man had mysterious conversations. My french is not so advanced, but from what I understood runner was swearing a lot and was about kicking his own or his friend ass. It seems, that everybody has the “best“ Friend.

Finally I have lost him and was entering Garanon. I love aid stations! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about “fish and chips”, but more about emotional sustainability and family. They are enjoying each your move, encouraging and chatting with you. This is what I am expecting each time the most.  It was the only place where my friend didn’t bother me.

But in Tunte my fellow appeared again and started to coach me:

–  It’s hot, take ice and leave oranges for amateurs. Don’t forget to drink. It’s not the best time to listen Tim Noakes. Believe me, right now, he will be more than happy to be waterlogged himself.

I didn’t dispute with him, it made no sense anymore – he was totally right. I put few cubes of ice into my cap and firmly run away. My confidence was rising, I felt that I could finish strong, but never be too excited before the job is done.

Lets face the cruel fact that I am not very good on technical trails. So, can you imagine my face when I found out that the last part of the trail wasn’t so fast as I thought it is. To tell the truth, all my strategy was based on pushing hard at this late phase, but the cobbled paths just killed me. I couldn’t use my speed till the last 15km of the race.

–  Don’t whine like a little girl – damn, again that annoying voice – be man and admit that you are just another road looser.

Well, maybe yes or maybe no. I rarely remember those conversations afterwards and it looks like a dream or a distance smell of the wild flower. So, I don’t really know how much of this story is real, how much is just my imagination or hallucination, but one thing is for sure – I love trails, I love racing and I would be more than glad to run Transgrancanaria again!

Cuba Libre

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Ten percent of road and rest part of trail makes the best running coctail i have ever had. Don’t take me wrong, all ingridients in this highball are equally important. It’s nonsense to exlude any of it, but each of us likes it in his own way and the best part – everybody is free to do so. This is what i love about trail running – choice and liberty.

So, to choose right additives, blend delicious mixed drink as following:

  • adventure vs race place,
  • exciting vs monotonous run,
  • time vs average pace training,
  • elevation gain vs fast and flat,
  • scenery vs boring courses,
  • self supported vs aid stations,
  • mud and dirt vs white socks.

Probably, this is why the new breed of runners were born: ones who share the same values, who look for the new challenges and enjoy nature more than themselves. Usually, after very first try runners are hooked on trails and they never come back on roads. Of course, some of them compete in both running worlds, but only of-road gives so important freedom.

To make long story short, run as you wish, because at the end trail or road is more like soccer and football, but don’t forget to run at all. Enjoy your liberation and don’t drink pure shots. Cheers!

Wolf

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I have never been in Bieszczady before, so the Maraton Bieszczadzki looked like a great opportunity to explore the trails and get ready for the Bieg Rzeźnika. Everything seemed to be fine, but here I had to overcome the issue: what I want to do and what I can do. Mind versus body. This is how it went…

I had already been one and a half hour on the road. Twenty-eight kilometers passed so suddenly that I had to admit it was too fast for me. After all those ultras earlier this year I felt like a turtle on the highway. Despite that, I believed being still “fresh”. I speeded up for the first place. Indeed, I was running the third, but hoped that on the last part of the course, which goes only on the hilly trails, I will get the leaders. Having all this mess in my head, I sprinted to the woods to meet my faith.

Probably, exactly at the same moment, my legs started to sore, heart was dancing like hell and I couldn’t run even not so steepy ascents.  Running became mission impossible. Probably the first kilometers were so intensive and fast that it killed already weak spirit inside me. I had to come up with something, but all ideas were already used. I was about to give my body what it wanted the most – rest.

I sat on the ground. It’s not happening, it can’t be true, it just can’t. But yet, I was sitting on the cold meadow, eating my last gel and looking for a runner, who finally has a chance to outrun me. For a while no one passed me, but suddenly Marcin Świerc crossed my mind. Now, I understood what he meant by saying – it is not my day – during Bieg ultra Granią Tatr. I was totally in the same shit – exhausted, with no energy left.  While chatting here with imaginative friend, Clint Eastwood popped up and screamed – make my day, bitch! It woke me up. I slowly stood up, shake the head, as if getting rid of all the non-existing friends, and started to walk with each step floating further on.

That day the fog was incredible thick and I couldn’t see anything in ten meters. Suddenly this whole environment and fatigue started to gain on me again. I began to imagine that a big bad wolf would jump from the fog and bite me to death. I don’t know either it was the fog or my body’s, mind’s betrayal behavior, but I felt so miserable and vulnerable that the idea of hungry wild animal became real and overwhelming. It reduced my ability to run and was killing from inside, but I didn’t want to be a victim – I wanted to be the wolf – the hunter. So, I unleashed this violent creature and started to hunt.

It took me about ten minutes to put my shit together and at the end of the day I finished the third. Almost four hours ago I was nobody, but now I became an animal – the wolf, who for the last two hours was struggling for his life, trying to heal his bleeding soul. The one, who decided, that the mind is more powerful than a body.

Dar po 100?

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Aš – ultra. Ups, wrong. Mano vardas Gediminas. Paskutinį kartą bėgau šiandien.Tai buvo kasdieninis pabėgimas nuo savęs, problemų ir rutinos. Kuo toliau tuo ilgiau nuo kažko bėgu. Dažniausiai vartoju vienas ir grupiniu visai nesižaviu. Kiti man trukdo. Man patinka mėgautis vienatve ir bėgimo skoniu. Esu savanaudis, šiuo jausmu nesiruošiu dalintis.

Jei prieš dešimt metų kas nors būtų pasakęs, kad nubėgsiu maratoną, būčiau iš to garsiai pasijuokęs. Jei kas būtų pasakęs, kad šimtas kilometrų bus mano mylimiausia distancija, būtų gavęs į snukį. Taip, aš turiu priklausomybę ir kol kas pagerėjimo nesimato. Kaip ir visi, pradėjau vartoti po truputį, bet palaipsniui įnikau į vis stipresnius ir ilgesnį poveikį turinčius bėgimus. Nesu toks beviltiškas kaip Piotras ar Aidas ir trepsėti aplink visas pasaulio balas ir sostines nesiruošiu, bet jaučiu, kad dozę reikia didinti. Pasitenkinimo jausmas jau nebe toks kaip anksčiau ir aštuonesdešimt kilometrų per savaitę yra taip mažai, kad nenubėgus tradicinių šimto jaučiuosi piktas ir nesveikai suirzęs. Pradėjus šitaip kvailioti darosi sunku sustoti, o kai pradeti kažkuo piknaudžiauti turi susitaikyti su šalutiniu poveikiu. Manęs nekankina kepenų cirozė, bet achilles ir tibial tendinit’ai yra neišvengiamos diagnozės, jau ne vieną kartą jie buvo tapę geriausiais draugais.

Beja, visų draugų draugas Barack Obama target’ina Siriją, aš – man patikusias varžybas. Jis mėgina įkasti į kulną Bašarui al-Asadui, aš – apsaugoti savo achilus. Žiauru, bet panašumų galima rasti ir daugiau: prezidentas, su ištikimais vakarų Europos partneriais, kolekcionuoja pergales prieš neįtikusius režimus, aš – medalius.. Blaiviai mąstant, Obamai reiktų atsipalaiduoti ir bėgti, kuo toliau tuo geriau. Man – niekada neišsiblaivyti ir išlenkti dar vieną kilometrų shot’ą. Vis tiek, galų gale mūsų final destination – anoniminių bėgikų/prezidentų klubas. Man laikas atstatyti prarastus kilogramus, jam – pilkasias ląsteles. Neseniai atliktas tyrimas patvirtino, kad man trūksta riebalų. Pasirodo, mano dienos racionas bėjėgis atstatinėjant krentančius kilogramus ir nors susirgti anoreksija tikrai negresia, galiu garbingai pretenduoti į šūdų mašinos vardą. Nieko nuostabaus, nes sudegintos kalorijos ir pastovus miego trūkumas primena, kad aš – ultra.

Niekada negrįžti atgal

1Misionieriaus poza yra karšta, bet nieko nekeičiant taps nuobodi ir net stipriausias libido bus nužudytas. Renkantis tuos pačius renginius savižudybė neišvengiama, todėl n kartų bėgti įgrisusiose varžybose yra nesąmonė. Tą daryti gali tik bepročiai arba fantazijos neturinčios, konservatyvios kaliausės. Pasaulyje yra tiek daug įvairaus skonio bėgimų, kad net pasirinkus vien tik gražiausius, seniausius ir populiariausius, neužteks laiko ir jėgų jiems išbandyti.

Laikas per daug brangus, kad jį švaistyti jau gerai pažįstamiems dalykams, bet Salomon Zugspitz Ultratrail turi keletą privalumų, kodėl čia verta bėgti net ir kelis kartus iš eilės.

  • Trasa, oro sąlygos ir varžovai yra nenuspėjami. Jei šiemet teko bėgti sniegu, o penkiasdešimt metrų į priekį nebuvo matyt nieko dėl tiršto rūko, kitais metais Zugspitz‘e gali virsti kurortu gražiam įdegiui ir vaizdų medžioklei nuo kalnų viršūnių. Jei šiemet mano laikas 12:39:11 buvo devintas, o pernai antras, tai kitais metais gali būti pirmas arba paskutinis.

grazuolis

  • Išmoktos pamokos ir noras pasitikrinti ar jos gerai paruoštos. Po važybų kalbejau su Dynafit komandos nariu Pade Constantin. Jis man pasiūlė naudoti lazdas kopiant į kalnus. Jo nuomone būtent dėl to aš praradau mažiausiai pusvalandį! Absoliuti tiesa. Kopimui į kalnus aš išnaudojau daugiau energijos ir pastangų, varginau savo pusiaujį netaisyklinga laikysena, o rezultatas buvo vienodas – lazduotieji lenkė. Pastebėjau, kad trailo metu beveik visi bėgikai ir 100% visi finišavę prieš mane naudojosi lazdų privalumais, o paskutiniame sukilime būčiau pirkęs lazdas už bet kokius pinigus.
  • Užgautos ambicijos. Nors už nugaros palikau kelis tituluotus varžovus iš Salomon ir kitų brandinių komandų, jaučiau kad „lūžau“ paskutiniuose kilometruose. Niekaip neradau motyvacijos lenktyniauti su ranka pasiekiamais varžovais, o juk žinau kad galėjau. Ar tikrai?
  • Kas būtų, jei…? Negaliu ramiai miegoti, nes galvoje krebžda keistos mintys: kas būtų jei nebūtų nukritęs numeris, jei nebūčiau pametęs chip‘o ir gaišęs laiko jo paieškoms, jei turėčiau kopimui skirtas lazdas, o maitinimą organizavęs pats, o nepasikliovęs organizatoriais. Kas, jei…?
  • Nepakartojama kalnų ramybė. Alpės gražios kaip moterys, atrodo, užliptum ir nenuliptum.

boba

Nors žiauriai nemėgstu, bet kartais verta trypti jau seniai pramintus takus vien tam, kad pasimti tai, ko negavai pirmą kartą. Užgautos ambicijos, išmoktos pamokos, organizatorių prašymas, pagalba vaikams ir noras populiarinti bėgimą  –  priežastys, verčiančios virsti fantazijos stokojančiu impotentu. Būtent dėl to šį Plan B renginį  įtraukiu į pakartotinų varžybų sąrašą ir tikiuosi, kad kada nors grįšiu į Grainau nugalėti.