Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Apart from the many other things I love about running, I love that it can serve as a great tool of exploration. I spent the past week in Nottwil Switzerland, situated perfectly on the shores of the Sempachersee, which also offers itself as a perfect 20km running loop around the lake. Instead of doing the usual loop around the edge of the lake, I ventured up into the hills with farms sitting so invitingly at it's crest.
The fantastic thing about Switzerland is that everything is so well sign posted, so eventhough I wasn't exactly sure which sign to follow, I randomly picked one and followed its lead.

The first 5km took me along the usual loop  until I veered off that path and entered the forest and a steeper than expected hill stared me in the eyes. I wasn't unhappy about that because I had been growing board of flat runs. As I trotted my way up the incline the forest grew darker and more dense. I began having flashbacks to the movie "Snow white and the huntsmen", which I had recently seen, and began convincing myself that the branches of the trees would reach out for me at any moment, or some abstract creature would jump out of the scrub and see me as the perfect breakfast... Oh the mind games that can be created never fail to amaze me. At that thought though, my pace certainly increased to more of a gallop than a trott.

Out of nowhere I hit an intersection. The forest was still so dense that I couldn't see any of the farms I was headed towards and I'd lost my orientation a bit. The path that I was to follow was marked with its sign (a yellow diamond shaped logo) painted onto a tree. The sign was there, staring me in the eye, yet I didn't quite trust it. I became hesitant and with a hint of mistrust I eventually followed the marked path.
This pause in the path lead to the start of a question brewing in my mind. How often do we see signs but don't trust them, or choose not to see them, because a sign seems like something outside of our control. And the human species love control.

There were so many signs that attempted to highlight the beginning of my battle with "The Bitch". Initially I would do subtle things like eat a bit less, exercise a bit more. I grew overly interested with the appearance of my stomach, continually asking for reassurance, from family and friends, if I looked fat. Now, these things can appear normal (to a degree) and innocent, but in my case they were the initial signs of which would turn into a long hike.
Here are some signs  that should be looked out for when confronted with anorexia, especially for family and friends. There are Behavioural signs and Physical signs.
Initial Behavioural: (initially its mostly behavioural signs)
  • Obsession with weight and focused attention on one body part
  • Decreased portions/food intake
  • Elimination of food groups
  • Sudden dislike for previously enjoyed food - especially sweets and meat
  • Sudden increase in exercise
  • Subtle weightloss

Intermediate Behavioural:
  • Refusal to eat at the table
  • Excuse that "I ate earlier... or at a friends place"
  • Mood swings
  • Urge to eat at set times
  • Routines - such as weighing food, time routines... these routines can then stretch further than just food related.

  • Noticeable weightloss

Advanced Behavioural:
  • Increased obsession about food, food preparation and food consumption (including liquids and anything with caloric value)
  • Self isolation - becoming increased anti-social and not attending family or public outings
  • Increased interest in feeding and cooking for others, yet not eating anything themselves
  • Extreme Mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Exclusion of people
  • Living in a routine
  • Hair loss
  • Bad breath
  • Dry Skin
  • Loss of Menstruation
  • Severe fatigue
  • Decreased concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Self abuse/Bruises
  • Constantly cold
  • Akne
  • Bone protrusion due to severe weightloss
  • Bloating due to malnourishment
The signs, like on that path, were there. One pointing me in the direction I should be going, one pointing our the direction I shouldn't be going, Both however, are pointing out something, we just need to learn to look and trust. If we are aware of the signs, we are so much less likely to get lost.

I finally exited the forest and was now surrounded by open farmland and cowshit accross the whole path. The sun had risen above the lake and I had found a farmhouse that was selling fresh berries. Always prepared, I had 10 bucks in my pocket, so I feasted on a breakfast of blueberries, rasperries and strawberries, perched at the top of the fields, overlooking the misty lake.

Although my family pointed out and were aware of signs of my abnormal behaviour, I could always find a way to justify those signs. And eventhough my family could see the signs, they also chose to ignore them. Surely their daughter wouldn't follow that path... we are all victims of denial sometimes.

Descending was a much easier affair. I had the lake in view the whole way down and could also see Nottwil over the other side of the lake. It was hot, I'd been running for a good few hours, the end was in sight. I plunged into the lake where a group of friends were already enjoying the welcome ice bath the lake offered to be and glared over at the forest, thankful that I'd chosen to follow the sign.

Even if you get lost and go down the wrong path, there's always going to be another sign to help you find the right path, or prevent you from going further down the wrong path. I got rewarded for trusting in the signs (when I eventually chose to), physically and mentally.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


"There are loads of footprints... there are lots of different paths you can take. Which set of footprints to you take, or do you make your own pathway? That's the same as life." Ryan Sandes

I love seeing footprints on the ground yet, at the same time, I love seeing none on the ground. Footprints give you a sense of comfort, someone else has walked this path, it seems less daunting, even less lonely. When you go a path where you are the first person to imprint on the path with your footsteps it's an incredibly liberating feeling, a feeling of achievement, adventure and discovery.

I spent the last winter in the ski resort Mürren. It was one of the best snow season we have had in a long time, with frequent fresh powder - snowfall at night, clear blue skies durin the days. I enjoy skiing incredibly, but since I've been taking running more seriously I have grown alot more respectful towards it, out of fear of injuring myself and compromising my running. Which, when you rationalize it, is a stupid way to think because there is a certain risk to everything in life, even running in the snow. I suppose we prefer to take on a risk that we feel in control of. I feel more in control when running than when skiing.

 I was concerned about how I could keep up my mileage throughout the winter season, and the idea of running on a treadmil wasn't all that inviting. Running, to me, is not just about the action of running, but also about the interaction with nature and testing myself against the elements. Mürren posed the perfect challenge for testing myself against the elements and leaving the first footprints in freshly fallen snow.

On the morning of my 23rd Birthday I wanted to literally run into the next year of my life (and when I say morning I'm talking about the first minutes that are classed as A.M), so at precisely 11:59pm I set off on a 23km run to mark the age I was turning. The conditions could not have been any more perfect. During that day and into the evening a good 30cm of snow had fallen and dusted the paths and ski slopes with a lucious fluff. As I set off ro run, the sky was showing off its beauty with stars glittering accross the sky and a full moon lighting my way. i wanted to make this a challenging but fun run, a run to last, a run to remember. I followed the path to Gimmeln, a small mountain restaurant, where I then jumped on the freshly groomed ski slopes (I am never again going to take the work of those guys for granted!!), creating a perfect grip for a long uphill slog. My target was to get to the top of the Schiltgrat, and at times the incline was so steep I could only crest (the sometimes minor) hills by going up on all fours. If the opportunity arrose I veered off-piste to dance around (I do mean run, but dancing adds an element of fun) in the thigh-high snow.
There was nothing but the sparkling sky, the snow and myself. I felt free. I felt worryless. I felt happy. After a good hour I made it to the top of the Schiltgrat chairlift station looking back (as far as my eyes could see in the dark) on my footprints in the otherwise untouched snow. A speedy descent followed before I began the next climb. This pattern continued for quite some time - ascent followed by descent... A bit like life, it goes up, it goes down... it gets hard, it gets easy and sometimes, like it was the case that night, you can find a good side in both aspects.

There's something inviting, mystical and scary about forests. As I approached the last 10km of my Birthday run I ran towards it with caution. The forest is where I realized that my footprints weren't the first to hit the ground, there were already some paths made from rabits and one that seemed to be that of a fox. Oh panic tickled me for the first time. It was time for the headlamp to come out for duty and with that my terrible singing skills, as I was convinced my singing would scare any pradetor away. That panic was only temporary however, as I began to focus on the trail ahead and the paw prints in the snow, which followed no consistent pattern and zig-zagged from one side of the path to the other. The fox paw prints disappeared. I relaxed.
I didn't want that run to end, but I was starting to get cold and only had 1km left until I hit my target. My footprints ended infront of my house.

There are footprints everywhere... some are visible, some invisible. Sometimes you walk alone, sometimes you walk in company. Your path and footprints are unique.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you." - Mary Stevenson

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Panoramic memories

For the first time in a long time I went  running in Mürren again, the fairytale - like village I grew up in. It's located in the Jungfrau region and situated perfectly on the mountain edge or as the locals like to call it the "Mürrenfluh". Mürren is such an amazing place to grow up, as the whole town and it's surroundings become your playground; in winter with skiing, tobogganing, snowball fights, ice skating and more... In summer the vast trails and lush forests make the perfect setting for fun and adventures. From an early age we got set free. It's not unusual to see a 3year old roaming the village streets, or older kids staying out until after dark playing and having fun on the village streets. We had to use our imagination, always coming up with new games to play and all kids, of all ages, would engage in games together. It was a bit like a big family, everyone looking out for one another. Parents were never overly concerned over their kids whereabouts, because they knew that somebody  would always have seen them and there was no stranger danger. It was a really liberating place to grow up.
Our school was tiny. I only ever had three kids in my year, which meant that years 1-4 and 5-9 were merged and still those merged classes would only ever reach a max of 20 each. I have always said that we didn't learn much on the academic side of things (not implying we had bad teachers, but they just had a different focus), we did however learn a lot about life - about manners, personal ability, discipline and the appreciation for nature.
That's where my love for the outdoors started, in my upbringing and schooling. School sport, in winter, was either skiing or ski touring. We did breathtaking things like ski down a glacier (behind the Jungfraujoch aka Top of Europe) to then apply a type of fur or carpet to the bottom of our skis, with a hingeable binding, which then allowed us to walk up the ice valley and eventually summit an over 3'000m mountain. Summers were the time fir cross country running and outdoor sport, and although it seemed like a chore at the time, we all (well most of us) enjoyed the weekly challenge of attempting to improve our 2km running time.

As I was sitting above the village, peering down at all the familiar sights, I had finally found my appreciation for the place again. It's amazing how you can come to take a place and people for granted. When I left mürren, with mum, to move to Australia I was sick of the place and sick in the place. I could no longer handle feeling like I was trapped on this mountain, as you can only get on and off it by cable car and only at specified times. So as a teenager it is no longer the paradise it was as a child, it becomes more of a prison. That prison resembled my internal prison at the time.

I hit the panorama trail, a place I use to always walk my dog Sydney to, a place I came to escape to, a place that gave me clarity yet also a place that gave me an excuse to exercise.
After running for a decent hour I took a moment to sit on one of the benches with a beautiful mountain canvas infront of me and memories flooding back into my mind.
From a young age I always ate lunch at my aunty Trudy's house. I could smell her cooking from far down the street as I approached the house. Always a keen eater I use to scoff down my food before heading back to school. But as "the Bitch" started creeping into my life, the excitement about Trudy's food started to fade and panic about the prospect of ingesting calories started to invade me. I didn't want it to be obvious that I was beginning to struggle with food, my physical appearance and personal identity, so I'd eat reduced portions, weighed myself pre and post meals so I could gage how much weight I'd gained in that sitting (I was convinced that all food was turning into rolls of fat on my body as I ate it) and I forced myself to walk to school over the panorama trail a 45min walk instead of a 10min walk so I could burn extra calories. It was great to have a dog to use as an excuse to go for walks and chase after, covering up the true drive behind this sudden interest and regiment of walking Sydney.
A major part of the problem with anorexia is that you begin to convince yourself, and eventually others around you, that your actions are normal and justified. The reality tells a different story though.

Sitting on the panorama trail  overlooking Mürren, I realized that occasionally you need to remove yourself from a situation or place, only to later let it unveil and you appreciate it's true beauty. Sometimes we need to lose ourself to find ourself. I was once lost... I am now finding.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crossing paths... sharing paths

I've been in Switzerland for four months now and I haven't found anyone to run with, until two days ago. A young guy stuck his head into the shop, sweaty and glowing with that running vibe, when I realized who he was, I know this guy. A guy who went to school down in the valley, a few years younger than me, but we knew
one another from going on school trips together. Turns out he is an avid runner (which I already knew from facebook) but I had failed to realize that he is just as in love with the sport as myself. We promptly made an arrangement to hit the trails the next morning, which did worry me slightly, knowing what an excellent trail and mountain runner he is.

This run was more than just about sharing a trail and sharing time running. As it turned out, and I had known about, my mates sister is in hospital being treated for anorexia and has had a long struggle with "The Bitch".

A 15km climb lay ahead of us, as we decided to attempt the ascent section of the Jungfrau Marathon (which we are both running in 4 weeks time) stretching from Lauterbrunnen to the Kleine Scheidegg. We hit a comfortable trott, enjoying the marvulous view as the mountains, specifically Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau began to reveal themselves as we wound out of the forest. My running buddy is 2 years younger than me, 21 only, but has already had some amazing running experience and success. He told me that he doesn't run to race and compete, he runs because he loves it, he loves what it gives him. He went on to tell me that he went to a psychiatrist (work related) and he had told him that he has an "issue"  because its not normal to love running up mountains so much. Well, theres a lesson - just because it seems abnormal to one person doesn't mean it is. We're individals. And what is normal anyway? If you love something then thats your normal, no justification needed.

The beauty of running is that you can cover distance, do what you enjoy and still engage in conversation (although at times laborous conversation).

So we'd been going straight up for the best part of 10km and the serious part was still awaiting us, as was the serious topic. Oxygen debt and attempting to talk is not the easiest thing, but not responding instantly gives you time to think about your response.
My mate is incredible, all he wants is for his little sister to get better (as would most brothers, I'm sure) and for his parents not to blame themselves. I'd go as far and say that he wants to carry their pain. He asked me what it was like for me when I had anorexia and how I got better. I began to reminisce.

My legs started to burn in memory and reality. The incline was getting steeper, the 1'000s of squats I use to make myself do were getting harder and more exhausting.

It all started with an innocent thought - "if I lose a kilo before christmas that means it won't matter if I eat too much at christmas time..." That was the start of a vicious cycle. "Thats what my sister said" he told me, "that she just wanted to lose a little weight".
Food became a game, a tool. It started with little things like timing how long it took me to eat certain foods, but it grew alot more complex until numbers, food, weight and calories were all that occupied my mind.
Every 100gm that I lost was equal to one point on the score board, or even a win. I got hungry for more success and the only way I could measure success was by losing the kilos and making that number on the scales sink.

Usually I'd stop and walk at this point, but my mate urged me to keep trotting, so I did. I watched as he leapt up the boulders, seemingly effortless, like a mountain goat. When we regrouped he asked me what he can do to help his sister.

I had alot of help and support around me, but whenever someone offered me a hand I'd see it as a threat, although inside I was crying out for help. I was trapped. I didn't feel like I was me. I felt like a prisoner within myself. I had moments of being the "old" carefree, happy Belle, but then "The Bitch" would take over because she felt threatened that she could be exposed and kicked off her throne. "Show unconditional love" I told him "no matter how long it takes, but realize, that in her eyes, pretty much anything you do will be wrong." Even when I asked for help or simple everyday things, it would be wrong, even if it met my specifications. If I didn't do it, if I wasn't in control it was wrong. If I asked a question "does my stomach look fat?" and the answer was "No" (the response I craved to hear) it would still be the wrong response, because I was convinced that it wasn't the truth, that the world and all people had conspired against me.

We parted for a good 20min at a section that I decided to hike (my legs were still feeling the 80km from the previous weekend) and my mate decided to run up. He then backtracked and picked me up before we began the 1km descent to the Kleine Scheidegg where we were met with a cute man made lake and exsquisite view of the Eiger towering overhead and a mini avalanche dusting the mountain face as it forcefully made its way into the valley. "Why pay for a train ticket when we can run down...?" So after 2.5hrs of continuous uphill we began to descend into the valley.

As my weight continued to descend my world began to shrink. "I excluded people from my world because I felt ashamed yet threatened at the same time." I explained to my mate, "The Bitch" became the only voice I trusted, the only voice I thought was telling me the truth. In order to avoid further confusion in my head I started to push people away. There were a select few I kept close, but they had to walk on eggshells around me because I could chuck a psycho with any wrong move.

The trail we chose was slippery and rocky. I backed down a few gears, cautiously navigating my way over rocks and boulders, while my mate was descending like Bambi, perfect footing, fearless and thoroughly enjoying it.

"How did you get better?" Well, the thing is I always wanted to get better, I just didn't know how. I chose life. The more I realized and got a taste for what life was like outside the clutch of  "The Bitch", I wanted more of it. I started running, and that after many years, became my new addiction, the only thing was that this addiction wasn't killing me, it was reviving me.
"I didn't want to let my family down, and all the people who believed in me." I told him. I detested gaining weight, eating, seeing my body change, but I knew it would become a life or death matter, so I gritted my teeth and kept striving for life.
"I don't know what the exact turning point was, just as I can't pinpoint the point that caused me to spiral down into the traps of "The Bitch".

We passed a gushing waterfall, the volume of water crushing, even just the sight of it. We reached the bottom with 2km of flat left. Now I had my chance to get my mate to chase me. We sprinted to the fountain that was 500m up the road, and I managed to take victory on that section. As we hydrated with the cool glacier water my mate asked me how he can best help his sister. "Be there for her, but realize that only she alone can make the decision to get better, no one can force or bribe her."

After 5hrs on the trails I was thoroughly exhausted but at the same time felt revived.

Trails are gorgeous and uniting. You may cross the path with other people, realizing that you are actually on the same path, just navigating your way differently and at a different pace, thats the path of life.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The choices of Anorexia

I wish I could understand if Anorexia is a choice, or like other illnesses, just something that happens to you. But if it were something that "just" happens to you why do you get the choice to get better? So, if you get the choice to get better, the choice to be ill must be in your hands too. What if choice is the cure to anorexia, like a pill the cure to other diseases?

It all sounds so simple to heal from anorexia, but it's far from simple. Its that hard that I, having lived with and through it, struggle to find the words to describe it and understand it. So where do I start? How can I help you understand the nature of anorexia when I still struggle to understand the enormity of it myself.
An illness doesn't just become your experience alone, it equally becomes that of your family, friends (to a certain extent) and the medical team supporting you. Anorexia takes away your identity and tries to fit you with another, an identity that isolates you, eats at you and eventually can kill you. I don't want to talk about statistics of anorexia and its extent, because even if its affecting one person, thats one person too many. It's a known fact that anorexia exists, so I want to focus less on analyzing anorexia and rather expose what I do know about it and what its like to live in a world trapped by anorexia.
I am aware that the way I put and see things can be confronting and seemingly exaggerated to some people, but I can honestly say that its not. Words don't have the capacity to explain how lonely, scary and manipulative, to yourself and others, anorexia is.
I have the ability to talk about anorexia from a sufferers point of view, to help give you a better understanding of the thought patterns  of an anorexic, the way the affected person perceives the world and what helped me most on my road to recovery.

It's important to me to help people other than the affected person to understand anorexia. My parents were very much part of the experience, they lived it with me. I know, especially my mum, would have loved to have heard from a past sufferer that there is a way out, her girl could get better. Now I'm here to tell you that she can, I did.

Mum and Dads take on anorexia is different to mine, neither take is wrong because they are all real, they simply give you a different angle to look at the illness. The way I perceived my parents actions was with threat and I feared (or was it the anorexia that feared) losing control over my life, yet ironically I had long ago lost control over my life. I found my parents intrusive.
My parents perceived my actions as desperate, selfish and full of fear.
FACT - my parents were instrumental in my recovery, without their support it would have been alot harder to get better. I don't know if I'll ever be completely free from "the bitch" (the name I like to give anorexia, because Ana or rexi, as some girls call it, is far too amicable), but I will stay in control of her as opposed to her being in control of me. I've learnt to be honest and ask for help if I need it, important things to be able to do in order to beat "the bitch".

Never ever give up, even when it seems hopeless at times, never give up on yourself dear girl/boy... never give up on your daughter, son, wife... YOU, your LOVED one, can get better!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An Ultra flirtation

I'm throwing up, my body's screaming at me to stop, my mind is asking me what the hell I'm doing, who the hell do you think you are? Well, this is what I know; I'm Belle Zimmerli. This is my first Ultra. I came here to run. I came here to finish. Suck it up.

For two years it has been my dream to run and complete an ultramarathon. The norm has never been enough for me. If the bench mark is set at a certain level I will most certainly strive to shift it further. Sometimes this works in my favor, sometimes it becomes a self distructive force.
The allure of an ultra is not about measuring myself against other people, it's much more about measuring myself against the distance and my personal limits.

Swissalpine K78 in Davos was to be my first flirtation with an ultramarathon. For the first time ever I managed to train injury free, which strengthened me not only physically, but also mentally, because I knew if body was ready, mind was ready.
For months I had been visualizing that start line, a line that would mark yer another chapter in my life. Self doubt continually tried to challenge my focus and diminish my determination, but my eyes, everything about me, was too focused on that goal to let it distract me for too long. Actually, the moments of doubt fired me up even more, they made me ravenous to prove to myself that I am capable of more.

My belief is that if you want to be a successful Ultra runner you need to be in tune with your body, a harmony that I had lost for many years during and after being posessed by Anorexia. That's why I decided that I'd ditch the distractions and external dictators for this adventure. I left my watch at home, because the race wasn't against my watch, it was against myself. The iPod stayed at the hotel, because the experience wasn't just about me, but also the nature I was surrounded by, the fellow runners and the wonderful volunteers. I didn't want to isolate myself from that. I then went one step further and ran in the new Salomon Sense, a super light weight, minimal drop shoe with amazing technology. It helped me literally Sense my feet, which effectively heightened my body awareness.

The Swissalpine K78 is dubbed "The biggest mountain ultramarathon in the world, and ultimate challenge". I wanted a taste of their take of an ultimate challenge, so 5 months ago I entered the event. I had familiarized myself with the course profile online, so I had an idea of what to expect. Only, I later came to realize, that my imagination couldn't do reality justice. The atmosphere at the startline was electrical. A diverse range of people were lined up - some with focused determination, others with an air of adventure, and some looked keen to test their limits. I grouped myself into the latter category, aiming to have a challenging, fun and enjoyable day.
The start was idyllic, looping throught the mountain village of Davos with people lining the streets, cheering with encouragement. You then wind your way through the valley until you hit your first minor (as say minor, because compared to the inclines ahead that was a baby) incline, followed by a long stretch of downhill, first on road, then over beautiful trails. That's where I decided to let my body roll and accelerate to a comfortable yet solid pace. I learnt on that section that guys don't like being "chicked", which did surprise me, as I had always perceived the ultra world to be more of encouraging nature as opposed to competitve, at least at amateur level (but maybe its the other way around?). That attitude however, just added to the fun on my behalf as it became a game, in my mind, to try and get a hello or encouraging response from the men in the field. Women, on the other hand, were cheerful and ever supportive. Thats not to say that I didn't meet some nice people (being men) along the way. Rolf, a german guy I ran with for the best part of 10km, talked me through the whole race ahead of me and what to anticipate and gave me valuable tips. He also promised, that if he were to pull out of the run (due to injury issues) he would wait for me at the finish until I crossed the line, which he did.
Dermot, a super cool aussie guy and an absolute running machine, was such a boost along the way. For some reason you can just pick the Aussies out of a crowd, and he was that Aussie. He was full of enthusiasm and a boost to the morale. A nice little chin wag and another 5km's had passed efforlessly.

After the blistering descent the course took you through a magnificent canyon and little tunnels that are carved through rock to make the path. The next climb was a steady 5km that took you to the marathon point in Bergün. i decided to run the uphill at a steady pace and focus on the white line, imagining it was a rope pulling me to the top. I got there as 8th female and with my dad waiting there and my confidence conservatively high, I knew I would finish this run.
They say that the race doesn't start until you hit Bergün, and boy they were right. For the next (close to) 20km all you have to look forward to is upill. Uphill isn't my forté and combined with getting sick on that stretch, it made it for a long and torturous part of the race. Not long after Bergün I started to take a turn for the worse, which frequently forced me to stop and be sick, which made me feel better temporarily, but kept returning with a vengeance. At that point all I focused on was making it to the Sertig Pass and then reassessing after that. My main worry about being ill was the loss of energy. It drained me, but I kept trying to refuel as best I could. Storms and heavy rain hit adding an adventurous dynamic to the run. I loved the distraction and finally crested the Sertig Pass at 2'700m where patches of snow were awaiting, upon which I decided to throw a snowball in the direction I had come from (avoiding fellow competitors of course) to mark that I had made it that far - 60km. I downed some coca cola and started the descent with respect, leaping over slippery stones and boulders and attempting to let my legs recover for a few km's and focusing on not making any stupid mistakes on fatigued legs. At this point I knew I had 19km left to the finish line and the main part of that was downhill. "I can do this" I kept telling myself. My pace started picking up, I started catching people, and I knew that 3 women had passed me since Bergün and I made it my goal to catch at leas one of them. I got to an aid station where I left my raincoat and hand held waterbottle, as they were annoying and distracting me.
As I was running my curiosity grew as to how long I'd been running. I was watchless and clueless. I whouted out to a spectator asking her for the time - 2.15pm. "okay, so I started at 7.00am, it's now past 2.00pm that means I've been running for 7hrs15mins and I've got 14km left to run. I could do this sub 9hrs...". My goal was to break the 9hour mark. I kept moving, refusing to walk at any stage, at any uphill, telling myself that I came here to run... "suck it up". At every aid station I'd guzzle down coke and water and kept going.
Again a gorgeous stretch of narrow trail lay ahead, upon which I ran into the same problem of guys, only hesitantly, letting me pass. I passed one girl... tick for that goal. From behind a guy came up and asked if I was having trouble getting past the people. Yeap, sure was. His resoponse was for me to follow his step and he'd pull me through as far as he could. He was running the marathon distance, aiming to break 5hours (if you think 5hrs is slow for a marathon you should check out the course profile!!). At that stage I knew I could break 8hrs30min, so we made a deal to push so hard that we'd meet up at the finish line habing conquered those times. We hit road again and I pulled away for the final 4km, quads screaming. calves crying, my face smiling... "I'm nearly there". I had picked up my pace to sub 4.30min/km and hit the last 800m which stretched along the main street of Davos and extended towards the finishing shoot. Kids were high fiving, people were cheering and I jumped accross the finish line in 8hrs20min. winning my age group and placing 11th amongst the females. Goal of sub 9hrs - tick.

An ultramarathon is a bit like life. You need to take it step by step, enjoy the moment and avoid looking too far ahead. Be prepared, but don't focus on what will be, focus on what is. Eventhough K78 tested me at times, it gave me so much more in return. It was a great start into the chapter of ultra running in my life.