This past weekend I competed in Marathon 7500, a trail running race that takes you all over Bucegi mountains. It was an anniversary edition, celebrating 10 years since the first one, so a couple more races were added to the two traditional ones. All of them start and finish at Peștera (Moroeni), while taking you up and down Omu’ peak on different routes (at 2,505 m altitude, it’s the highest point in Bucegi mountains and 6th highest in Romania).
These are the four races and their routes:
– 8500: a new addition. you get to climb on Omu’ peak four times, on four different routes. It’s 100.5 km long, with 8500m+ altitude difference.
– 7500: the Elite race. you get to climb Omu’ three times. 90 km long, 7500m+.
– 3200: the one ran by my better half, also called “Hobby race”. he climbed Omu’ peak twice, on two different trails. 42 km long (the distance of a marathon), with 3200m+.
– 1600: also a new one. dubbed ‘Kiddies race’, this is the one I signed up for and ran on Saturday. I got to climb Omu’ peak once. Only 23 km long (so barely more than a half-marathon), with 1600m+ elevation. For those of you who prefer visual representation, here’s the map:
That being said, here are a few reflections that I wrote in my diary Monday morning, upon returning home:
1. I need to stop and readjust my training plan. And my life and priorities in general. This summer I made a mess out of everything, and it’s solely my fault.
It all started back in May, when I said yes to more things than I normally do. Yes to meetings, yes to events, yes to all projects and opportunities thrown my way. Yes yes yes. I overruled all my rules – including the one regarding a strict no-meeting regime during weekday evenings, in order to keep those for my trainings. Worst part? 90% of those meetings weren’t even worthy of my attention.
Running went down my priority queue, which only caused a downward spiral. In June I’ve been on the road more than I got to stay at home (I already wrote about how traveling messed up my system). When I finally got to stay at home, I was feeling guilty for all the time wasted on the road and compensated by doing the only thing I could have thought about… working extremely hard, getting myself on the verge of burnout. Cause that’s what working throughout all the weekends and nights will do to you, obviously. #stoopeed
Friday evening, before the race, I totally freaked out about how I’m undertrained and exhausted – and for good reasons.
If I wouldn’t have worked during every single waking hour, I would have trained more. I would have had the chance to check out the route in advance – not doing that is a big rookie mistake. I have no excuse, especially since it’s so close to home (only a 3 hours drive away). This way I would have known how to distribute my effort throughout the competition and not run ‘blindly’, without knowing what to expect next. It’s one thing to read all the existent blog posts about this race and route, study the map of every single section of it, and it’s a totally different thing to experience it first hand. Or first leg. Whatever. Not to mention that I felt guilty for wanting to stop to take photos almost every single step along the way.
Now I’ll probably fall into the other extreme, saying no to anything that’s not essential (why do I always have to relearn this lesson the hard way?).
2. I can’t think of anyone else with whom I would have run with, other than Alexandra, who was my partner for this race.
Yes, Marathon 7500 is a team competition, probably the only one of this kind still left in Romania. You start the race together, at all times you have to run together, keeping a 50 m distance between you – tops, and you need to finish together.
As in life and business, it’s vital that you choose the right teammate for your run, someone who’s a great match to you – at a physical level, but especially mental. Throughout the long races, at some point you’ll come crushing down, and at other times your partner will be down. You need to be able to support each other and help get through the hard times. You need someone you can trust completely.
Also, these races are so long and exhausting (well, maybe not the kiddies race that we signed up for, but the other three truly are) that they stretch you to the edge and reveal the dark, ugly side of you. At the end you’ll either be connected forever with your running mate, or never wanting to see each other ever again.
3. Another rookie mistake: this was the first time when I didn’t complain about my legs during a race, but instead had to deal with back problems because of the weight carried in my backpack. I need to start investing into lighter running gear. And also buy a soft flask of water instead of the plastic bottle that I usually run with. I started the race already dripping, and not from sweat or rain – the bottle didn’t close properly and, when I bent to tie my shoelaces, the water in it spilled all over my head and back.
I’m going to end with a secret that’s being well kept in the running community. Newsflash! There’s not much running at this type of races, hahaha. Well, the best ones do run – probably most of the route, but for the vast majority of participants it’s more like an accelerated hiking session combined with crawling on all four limbs or falling onto your bum.
To everyone involved in organizing this race: thank you!
To all my friends who are (way) better trail runners than I am and had to listen to me complain about all the little shitty things, although you’ve already been through this learning curve a long time ago: thank you for your patience, advice and encouragement.
A few of the pics taken during the run: