Sunday, 20 December 2015

in the heat of africa

race #5 2015 (ex. srm) - 5 km - 21:35 [sb] - saturday 19th of december

on my way to the top - photo: bjørn johannessen / kondis.no.

i've soon spent one week in close distance to western sahara. on fuerteventura, the eastern-most of the "islas canarias", to be precise. the sun has been shining all day long, with temperatures stable on the comfortable side above 20 degrees. located at playitas, a sports holiday resort on the island, every day has started with a strength session at the gym, followed by a slow breakfast in the sun, mini golf or chilling by the pool with a good book, a walk or a run, some more relaxation, dinner, and bed time around 10 pm. quite a comfortable life, i have to say.

i hate focusing on negativities, but 2015 has been slightly problematic. a painful right achilles until may, motivational issues until october, and a troublesome left calf since september. just to mention a few things. i reckon i have not been running this little since 2008, or maybe even longer. so i was not sure at all if i could enjoy freedom in a pair of running shoes, while staying at "the desert island". luckily the calf seemed to have healed well, and i've completed more kilometres this week than any previous week, this year. i have done my first proper interval session of the year, the popular 6 x 870 m session with 45 second pauses. and i have logged my longest run of the year, an 11 km run. i know, it sounds amazing. i am telling you the truth though.

with such great progress there was no doubt in my mind that i was ready for a bigger challenge. so, when i heard there was an international 5 km race at the island, where i would meet top runners and triathletes from all over the globe, i did not hesitate signing up. my goal? finishing top 15! an insane goal for most normal people, after such a long period without proper training. but i am not normal. when it comes to running i am a prodigy. i have a perfect running stride, learned the hard way, as one of few selected student of mr pain. next to this i have a will of iron, cultivated by growing up in extreme conditions, in a small village on the west coast of norway. so for me, every goal i set is within reach. i knew i could do this.

just before five pm, while the sun was about to set behind the massive mountains in the horizon, i ran towards the start area of the race. it was packed with whom most people would look at as fierce competitors. i could feel the tension in the air. however, it was not my tension. i was completely relaxed, and in perfect balance. no number of world champions on the start line made any difference to me. i had no respect for them. they deserved none. to me they were nothing more than a group of average joes. not a single person i would struggle beating, if it was not for my calf injury. these were people with "limits" written in their foreheads. "limit" is a word that doesn't exist in my vocabulary. my only worry was my calf. i did not trust that my gigantic and anatomically beautifully shaped muscles in my left calf could handle the massive forces required following "mr pains way of running". high stride frequency, and high knees, hence barely touching the ground, while pushing effortless forward. i remembered mr pains words, "all is physics". he was so right, of course.

i lined up at the start, and glanced towards the turning point. the track went straight up, towards the top of the closest and steepest mountain. i could see fear in the other runners eyes, even from behind their dark and polarized expensive fashion sports sunglasses. "pathetic", i said out loud, while smiling widely. no mountain could scare a real man. by observing the so called "top athletes" by my side, i decided to crank my goals for the race even more. i decided to also go for a season's best, and a personal best on spanish soil. "easy peasy japaneasy", i said, smiling even wider. after all, i was representing japan on this glorious day just before christmas. japan, being my second home. the land of the rising sun, where i had learned advanced zen mindfulness techniques. i had fine tuned an already brilliant mind. where other see problems, i see solutions. where other feel fear, i feel excitement. that is how it is to be me. that is how it is to be a true master.

i turned around, looked at the hordes of spandex dressed people, and yelled out, "good luck, guys. you'll need it". i laughed as the start pistol went off, scaring a flock of canarian egyptian vultures, that had been relaxing on a rock high up in the mountainside.
the few runners that managed to keep up with my pace did breath heavily. annoying, as i wanted to enjoy the peace of mind that i so often find in the mountains. i considered increasing the pace, so i could run alone. but my calf held me back. i was constantly worrying that a muscle would snap, as i hurdled up the steep track.
i could feel the stifling heat from the dark volcano stone, but i did not sweat. that was not true for the other runners. the sweat formerly gushed down their faces. in a few minutes i was at the top. i stopped. i wanted to enjoy the magnificent view, that no one else seemed to notice. a marvellous game of lush colours playing just above the setting sun, in the west. i took a deep breath, before i with light and elastic steps started my return towards the bottom of the valley of darkness. i ran effortlessly, enjoying the experience. at the bottom i was met by a huge crowd of cheering people, waving with flags of all nations. i smiled at them, gave those close to me high fives, while cheering back. in no time i completed the last hundred meters. the massive digital display in the finish area did light up. "Frode Klevstul [Jap] - 21:34 - 11th place". 11, the master number. a number that represent something above and beyond the mundane. no coincidence, since i was the true winner of the race.
i had to tread carefully, avoiding stepping on the exhausted runners that had collapsed after the finish line. without hesitation i pushed through the wall of event organisers, journalists and spectators. this time i would do no signatures, no interviews. as soon as there was enough space, i once again started running. i ignored all the beautiful woman, whom tried stopping me. they said my name, in the most sensual way possible. they franticly tried touching my body, a body that would make a greek god feel like a couch potato. i kept going. in great speed i ran back where i had come from, towards the top of the mountain. this time i wanted to be alone, to feel the calmness of the mountain, and the serenity of mother earth.

mother earth says goodnight.

the true winner being number 11.

disclaimer:
this report might have been slightly influenced by the book i'm reading at the moment.

photos:
you can view photos from my trip here.





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