how to really #GetAtHome in this world

Race #4: The Linzer Bergmarathon, a Phenomenology of Pain

Saturday, August 25 saw me at the mountain marathon in and around Linz (Linzer Bergmarathon).

It brought to a close the mountain marathon cup in Upper Austria, the set of three mountain ultramarathons I participated in this summer – and where Paul Auster describes his memoir as working on a “phenomenology of breathing,” it seems that this could be described as a phenomenology of pain.

This run was particularly interesting in this regard because it has some steep-ish ascents, but nothing as grueling as the Traunsee mountain marathon, yet lots of long, drawn-out climbs and ascents which seem particularly good at being punishing.

Punished I felt.

There was some pulling here and there getting ever stronger, seemingly announcing oncoming cramps – which never materialized.
There was a bang in in the left shoulder from the running backpack at one point, seemingly going on forever – and then suddenly having disappeared a while ago.
There was the pain in the left big toe. It might sound funny, but it’s not when you got two black toe nails, lost one and are waiting for the other to completely drop, at the last such marathon, and now feel that the next nail is coming off. Except, it was funny because running was, when exhaustion was not too bad, more comfortable than marching on, and there was nothing amiss to be seen. (It since looks like it was actually the toe next to it that did get hurt…)

What may be the most funny of it all, though, is that I should even start this writing as if it was all a lesson in tolerance for pain when it was not only that, but also so much more. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard enough, and the hurting still bothers me because I could have had more fun (and taken less time) if it hadn’t happened – but really, I felt better right after this run, hot on the heels of writing about feeling frail, than ever before.

Sure, certain movements such as climbing stairs or descending a hill make it clear that there had been some strong physical exertion, my knees did take a pounding. Still, I walked to the train station and back home right after the race, ran (i.e., walked) an errand the next day, and it was all not that difficult.

And really, as always, the memory that remains most strongly is not that of problems and pains, but that of moving, discovering the landscapes in and around yet another city that is close by, but never ordinarily discovered in such a way, the rush of the descent on technical trails (which, at least here, looked to be a specialty of mine ;) )… Indeed, once again, I was told that I don’t look like I’m pushing the limit, but rather make it look relatively easy.

The run really is interesting. Starting out in the city, soon moving along the Danube for a bit, before turning North to head into the mountains, it covers urban and rural terrain. It continues with such a mix between roads, forest trails, and rather technical rocky descents, meadows and rural settlements…

Glimpses:

The finish – for which I don’t have photos (as I had other things on my mind then ;) ) – was particularly … special. Back into the city, along market stalls and shopping streets, through increasing crowds of people, feeling increasingly lost – and then getting to a cordoned-off area leading to the sporting goods store that co-sponsored the event, onto one of the staircases inside that store, along racks of goods, up to the roof terrace… and it’s done. 52 km.

Now, a few days later, I look at the whole course of this cup event – in three (rather nicely local) places, covering a total of 164 km and 7600 m altitude- and it holds good memories, provides a nice feeling of accomplishment… and feels like it wasn’t all that much, that bad.

Not to finish at the number of 4 official events – I will yet again not have time for the Wachau marathon, and just like last year, because of chile pepper-related events – I just registered for the inaugural trail run up the Schneeberg (up which there has been a mountain run for a while, but not a longer trail run).

After that, I will go for another attempt at the Vienna Circle… The main thing, though, is to keep up with the training and get stronger and better, all through the years. (And notice how there’s no mention of faster ;) )

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