Everybody knows that I just love the The 100 Miles of Istria race!
I'm connected to it in a very special way. I'm born in Rijeka and my mother still lives in Istria while my sister in Rijeka and the race was my first ultra-race!
So, to race at "home" and have the opportunity to see my family, enjoy the whole course "traveling" along so many memories is something special and unique.... and every year gives me the opportunity to experience new things!
This year I had another approach to the race. I had to adapt to my foot injury and I had to train with a positive attitude, trusting my body and what I can do. I had a race prior this one that went well, controlled and well.
Still, I wanted more, so I needed to speed up the training and higher the training volume. I did that during the whole March month reaching "good enough" training levels:
I was quite confident in my training, my legs and my form. I was not afraid about my had, I know that I can administrate well my "monsters" in my head! :)
LABIN I came to Labin - to the start of the RED course - the 100 mile couse (168km) just 10 minutes before the start. My buddy Mikael Lyckeklint who was also running this race (the first 100-mile race for him) was getting worried about my late presence to the start. But this is me, I like to avoid the stressy tension and just relax somewhere else and focus to the task and just get things done when things happen...... 10 minutes prior the race was more than enough to kick my adrenaline and I was soooo ready to run!
Crazy but true.... Yes, I may appear irritating calm to everybody around me but I'm NOT! :)
The start was 17:00 CET this year. I was not happy about that decision because I like to see the city of Rijeka and the surroundings from Učka during daylight and I wanted to avoid the second night on course...
The race started well. I focused on my pace and my breathing. Nice and easy. I had to listen to my body and just execute my plan - nothing else.
I knew that Mikael would run away, it was just a matter of time when. And he left almost right away. I came behind him in Rabac after the first downhill - I suppose he waited a little for me and Saša understanding that my pace was maybe a better one..... But I noticed that look in his eyes. He was ready to do more! He was ready to fly!
He was ready to... suffer and get things done the way he wanted! I had to respect that! So I stopped right after the first uphill in order to fix a little my left shoe and I let him go away! I wanted to have somebody near me during the night.... but this time, this race will be a 90% lonesome race - sometimes you just have to accept another plan B, C or simply adapt!
But than again.... I met Mikael in Plomin and my family was there cheering too (the last time I saw them before Buzet). The race director saluted too! Alen Paliska - what a man! Kudos for another superb organized race!!! Saša on the other hand disappeared behind me.
The climb to Učka
The climb! The course was quite different right from the start this year and those first 45km were new to me as well! That loooong uphill from Plomin. A mix of easy and tough hike to the top with stunning views ! You have to be there and enjoy such a moment. We have been blessed with a stunning sunset I enjoyed that moment and I decided to take out my phone and film a little bit too!
I felt good at that point, just those last meters before the very top I felt a little bit tired, but nothing to be worried about. My feet and legs were just fine and I managed to roll nicely downhill to the next aid station - Poklon.
Before that aid station we had to run over some snow spots and that was kinda nice for me. I did train the whole winter in ice and snow! But I guess that was actually the reason of my muscle failing me later on. I suppose that I tackled the snow too hard, and that mt quads did not like that - those jumps, sliding and all that "freak show" on snow and ice! But it was great fun! :)
After a short break in Poklon another change on the course. The course was not flat-ish like the year before. We got a long downhill instead! A non-technical downhill that never ended. Something that reminded me a lot to the Lavaredo race in Italy. That gravel road, rocky surface. A fast course.... I guess that that was the section that killed my quads because after the Brgudac aid station I had a great feeling, a good state of mind, the fitness was great but - the quads were gone!
I knew at that point, after just 55k in the race that I had to be patient, I had to administrate well the race if I wanted to finish the race in the first place.
I had to change my race approach - simple as that. But I was rolling pretty relaxed and quite well up to Trstenik as well, and I managed to take easily the downhill to Buzet.
Half of the race DONE! I stayed in the Buzet aid station a little bit too long. But I went outside with proper clothing and I felt good. After the city center and after the asphalt section I started running well..... that sensation of running nicely after 100k in my legs was sooo strong in my head and I felt that FLOW! It was pure magic and all those runners on the right side of the rivers hade a slower pace than me.... that felt creazy great! All those runners on the.... WHAT?????!!!!!
Why was everybody running wrong!?? I stopped! I took a look around me..... It was me.... I was the one and only dude running on the WRONG side of the Mirna river!
"Get your crap together now dude!" - I have to admit that I had a great desire to jump into the river and swim to the other side. But I do NOT cheat! NOT me! So I ran back...... the other runners were amused by the fact that they had a cheering runner on the other side of the river.... ehehhehe.....
I have to underline here that the mistake was due to the fact that I had the FLOW.... my mind was elsewhere and I just did not take care of the course as I should..... simple as that! Kudos to the organizers by the way, the course was excellent and exceptionally well marked as always! :)
Back to reality....
Back to track.... I ran back.... I still had that flow and I managed to pass the runner I had on the other side when I noticed I was running wrong.... so I guess I managed to run quite fast. Well, I didn't care. At this point of the race I just wanted to cross the Mirna river as many times as I got in order to chill my sore feet. Yes, I was not OK. I felt something was not OK but I didn't understand the reason.
I decided to save some energy all the way to Butoniga, and I ran as much as it felt good. Even after the Butoniga lake aid station I ran all the way to the climb without any issues at all. Nice and easily.... but something was not good.
Before Motovun you have to climb all the way to Zamask and that one is not an easy climb with more than 120km in the legs. I did not push... I just rolled. I let a few runners pass me on the climb - I got them on the other side. The thing that makes this race energy collapsing difficolult to understand is that I had a lot of low moments and a lot of those "flow" moments like the one heading to Motovun. I mean, I ran that downhill, and the flat-ish section all the way to Mutovun without problems. I felt soo great! A guy that had issues a few km before that passed me strong - he had a blast - what a Flow! I was happy for him! :)
Motovun - When good things go very wrong!....
And yes, this was my fault. Just mine! I permitted my mind to take over and my beasts to poison my brain! I walked down the Motovun aid station! I walked down!!! What!???
I knew that something went very wrong. But I did'nt understand what. My energy plan was OK. My liquids were OK..... everything was fine...... BUT.... my sister noticed a thing on my neck - i burned it! The sun burned it! Could that be the reason!? Was I a victim of the high temperature and the sun!?? Well, we don't have that huge "lamp in the sky" in Sweden and we had ice- cold temperatures prior to departure, so yes, that could be a legit reason!
I washed my face and my neck and I went down.... easily in order to shake the sleepy legs. I started running again on the bottom of Motovun! But I was running well.... and I refused to stop all the way to the climb to Oprtalj. It felt good there, I felt the energy back in me and I told myself like: "come on, let's do this!".... So I chased that climb and I came to Oprtalj quite happy and positive. I chatted a little with the organizers and I was relaxed. I got a chilly spray on my legs too (great):.....
The section between Oprtalj and Grožnjan is a lovely one. The countryside, the old villages like Završje is just before the last tougher climb to Grožnjan is majestic. The sun was lower.... and lower.... I felt good again.....Tired but good.
The section between Grožnjan and Buje was great for me. I managed to run really well. At the beginning of that section I had a dream to try again to finish the race sub30. I knew that it was a little bit too late to try this, still, running the whole section was just lovely. I imagined to have Anders Sandegård beside me like the year before. That person is a very special person indeed! I hope to run this race again with him and other fellow runners as well of course.... :)
I managed to run all the way to Buje, even the section inside the woods with a surprising ease. I felt so very light and the stride was easy..... That was really fantastic. Such a unbelievable feeling and that gratitude for being able to push the body like that after so many miles in the race. Just perfect! I was a little bit sad that I did not push a little bit more earlier in the race, that I took the whole race too comfy and administrate it maybe too conservatively. But here I was, in front of Buje - the last aid station and the last 13k before the finish line. My sister was waiting for me just before the aid station and she was surprised to see me there so soon.
What I did now was an act of stupidity - or maybe something you do when the last competitive moment in the race is gone..... I just relaxed, enjoyed the sunset and sat me down in that aid station, chat a little with my mun and sister and all the volunteers, and it took me more than 5 minutes to decide to move on, that it's time to finish that race!
I couldn't believe my own legs when after a few 100 meters fron Buje my legs started running again that slight downhill. I remembered how to run that section from the last year and I still had in my head the daemons from the last year and how well it went running with Anders. But this year was another story. I was empty and weak and I managed to fail all my goals for this or that reason that actually does not matter. Sometimes you just make bad decisions, you just race badly, something happens, you feel lousy.... a lot may happen and it's OK! It's OK to make mistakes as long as you come out from it as a winner..... it's OK to win over your failures and daemons! If you do things with a positive approach than everything is OK - And that was the "mantra" that I had in my head those last 8k while crossing a road (the last asphalt road before the finish).... I was processing the entire race and I want to to much better the next year! Yes, I have to do so! - "But I have to finish this one too!..... 8k to go!"....
It's there I met Brigitta Csernus. A runner from Hungary! A great person, a great runner that had almost the same race I had.... all those up and downs and we met there..... 8k before the finish line. What an opportunity to powerwalk, chat a little and finish together this race! Thanx Brigitta and congratulations to you for this race! Well done! :)
I had all those low moments and my family was always there with me in my heart! My wife and my children that support me while doing this, in this sport that takes so much but at the same time gives much more.... It's a sport of sacrifice, you have to train consistently and race with great motivation and great mindset and body fitness.
It's tough, we like it and... We Will be Back in 2019! :D
Thanx to my mum and sister too. They supported me in all the aid stations of the course from Buzet to Umag as always. This is kind of a tradition now! :)
Thanx to each and every fellow runner I know that contributed somehow in this, thanx to the organizers, the crew, the volunteers.....
See you again in April 2019! ;)
A special thanx to:
Nitecore provides the light I need during those long nights in the woods!
I had a blast using the HC33 this time! My spare headlamp, the NU25 was left unused during the entire course. The special developed battery from Nitecore, the NITECORE NL1829LTP, lasted the whole night - approx 9hrs in the chilly dark (-2/-4°C) without problems! This was the first time that I never had the need to bother with night running! Great product and support Nitecore! Thank you!:)