It’s getting real now. I got up at 5:30am, after a rough night in a tent with hard rain coming down. Temperature dropped within minutes to the point that I decided to put some extra cloth on. This is different from what I have done before; and that’s what I wanted!
Light breakfast with instant coffee (here’s my biggest challenge again) and toast. Peanut butter is my friend, even here in Bhutan.
We have to drop our bags at the truck by 7am, so it can be taken to the next camp. Meaning whatever you need for the day you have to pack. It requires a conscious mind.
After a short ceremony at the monastery (big one) and a blessing from the Lama will be starting the first stage.
* * *
Stage 1. Done.
My quick summary is this: insane, steep, pain, exhaustion, pure joy.
We started at the largest monastery in Bhutan after being welcomed by the monks with the national anthem of Bhutan. Very taking. Later we received the blessing by the Lama and were off to the race. The amount of positive energy was just amazing. Hard to describe but clearly there.
Start time 8:00. I was intensely nervous. After all it’s called “race”.
The first 10k turned out pretty easy, my pace being very similar to what I do at home but what did I know. First checkpoint was the longest hanging bridge of the country. Very cool.
The second 10k turned out to be different, rice fields, up and down. More up then down. Hills, hills, more hills. What’s going on here? I started to realize that this would become a different type of race. Well, it’s the mountains and the term steep was defined here.
Shortly before arriving at the 20k checkpoint I was stopped by cows and horses but what is a few minutes wait.
I did my best to show the medical team at the 20k mark that I was still in good shape. It felt like it but I was not prepared for what would be coming.
10k of steep incline. Mean up, up … No mercy. I do not like hills at all, unless I can ride my mountain bike down but what was coming was insane. While the first 5k at least left moments of running, the final 5 were just plain brutal. I just could not breathe. My chest muscles became my biggest enemy. Legs were ok, upper body holding up but chest.
There is something about oxygen in the air, one only realizes after it is missing.
I made several short stops to catch my breath and started to hate myself but in the end it’s a matter of mind over body.
Mind 1: Body 0
I arrived after 5 hours and 2 minutes and even found the energy for a last sprint.
I cannot describe the feeling. It’s just overwhelming. Your mind being at total piece and your body to tired to ache. Priceless!
A coke, some minerals, some stretching and a shower later, the world is a good place again. At least for another few hours as tomorrow is supposed to top today by length. I don’t want to know, I will keep it one step at the time …
We are invited to join a holy ceremony tonight. Conducted by the Lama and usually not available for the public. I’m looking forward to it. Life is beautiful and I’m in the middle of it.
We will start tomorrow at 5am and with a 2k incline again. Makes for sweat dreams.
As for the fellow runners: what a fantastic group of individuals! It’s the type of folks one wants to have in close vicinity.
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