RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon Blogs 2021
View All Posts 2021 From : Narayan Bharadwaj
21 August 2021 01:37 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan
Yesterday was all fun and relaxation. My hamstrings were so tight I could barely walk. So I just lay around on my sleeping bag for many hours. Reinhold, the winner of the race, told me to keep walking so the muscles mobilize. I did that and felt way better!
We had a banquet at the campsite last evening and were served with Lobiani, the traditional Georgian bread with red bean or cheese, fruits and salad. Real food never tasted so good after so many days of freeze dried meals!! I was so exhausted I crashed at 8 pm and woke up at 530 am!!
The morning was gorgeous, it was foggy and the course to the finish line was mostly downhill. Thankfully we had some asphalt and I made a run for it!!
The finish line was on the entrance to the cave city in Vardzia. A stunning city built on the mountain slopes with caves those were used as monasteries for Georgian monks! A feeling of overwhelming relief hit me when I crossed the finish line. It was so good to earn that finisher's medal!
As I went through the race, I kept reflecting on what this meant for me. As someone said to me, there are infinite number of lessons to be learnt in a race like this, but what did I take away? Don't think of it as "lessons learned", as it is a heavy term. Think of it as takeaways from my perspective :
Embracing extreme discomfort
We live in our cocoon worlds- in the comfort of our Lexus, operating behind the comfort of zoom and superficial first world worries like a 7 minute traffic jam on a freeway. A race like this throws you into a world of extreme, and I mean extreme discomfort for days on end. The discomfort you experience physically, emotionally and mentally is nothing like I have gone through. The aches and pains your body goes through, the emotional upheavals you go through when you're in a self doubt mode and you're on own for 30 odd miles battling the demons in your head, the unknowns you experience on the course making you adapt on the spot...you can't fathom the extremity of these conditions! After an experience like this, you are conditioned to embrace discomfort in every possible way. That experience is not something money can buy. It makes you resilient and tough as hell.
Plan like nobody's business.....
The process of breaking down a massive challenge into logical components and planning on finessing each one of these is exhilarating for a nerd like me. There are a dozen pathways and you have to research, prepare and train accordingly. The journey is equally exciting as the destination
....but suffer with grace
You could plan to the last known element, but in a race like this as in life, you will face nasty, nasty surprises. So as great as your plans are, when you're met with ugly twists, learn to suffer with grace. This happened to us many times when the weather got ugly or oppressive or the course had nasty twists and turns. But you can't let these ugly turn of events make you rethink your original goal. Negative thoughts spiral quickly into an abyss and it's important to always be smiling and keep your chin up. Like my wife said to me, "this is a mind game. So stay strong mentally and put one foot in front of the other ".
Lesson in mindfulness
Every step of the 250k calls for you to be extremely mindful. You cannot afford to miss one flag, look away for one second and trip on a rock, jump too quickly on mud only to slip...you have to be extremely mindful. The intense focus and mindfulness is almost zen like!!
We over complicate our lives....
A self-supported race like this gives you perspective. When you can live off of a backpack for days together and see the happy faces of the villagers living with Spartan infrastructure, you question the way you live.
We tend to over complicate our lives, acquire way too many things than we actually need and then figure out ways to get rid of those - often paying money to haulers to get rid of the excess! I've always felt that our purpose in lives is to act as transfer agents- transfer love to those who need it, transfer fortune to those who are deserving of it and transfer knowledge and education to our future generations. That purpose has become clearer to me as I see how simple can life be and how we can get rid of our excesses which could actually be life changing for others.
I didn't mean to pontificate, but these are just my raw observations as I reflected over the 250k I was with myself!
Finally, the real reason I did this race which I didn't want to mention earlier and jinx it; it's for the Apple of my eye, my daughter Riya whom I love with all my heart to actually show you and not bore you with a lecture every day -as you enter into the final two years of your high school and get ready to face the real world - know that no challenge is insurmountable, every uphill climb will end and with a positive attitude, tomorrow will always be a better day. If daddy can do something like this, you, who are million times smarter than him can take on any challenge in life and come through the other end smiling!
With all the love in my heart....