hu·bris /ˈ(h)yo obris/
Noun . Excessive pride or self-confidence.
For a few days now I’ve been toying with the idea of going for a big run. The route from Quepos to our cosy little jungle shack is approximately 10 miles… a tad too far for my first rainforest run, so I set my heart on the jungle-lite version. There’s a junction roughly 5.3 miles from the house… a much more reasonable distance. After running with the Mata-Rata (a Venezuelan running club of great repute) for the last 4 months I was feeling strong, confident and able to take on the world…. silly, silly Fray.
Each time we drove into town I studied the road… It’s twists and turns, it’s myriad of pot holes, it’s steep rises and falls. All looked well within my ability. I made mental notes of landmarks and key distances… my confidence growing by the day.
So today I decided to make it happen. Enough with the planning… LET’S DO THIS!!!
The plan was to get a ride to the junction with Geoff, where I would jump out and start my journey back. He would go on to the local airport, pick up our arriving guest and take them back to the ‘farm’. It was to be an epic race… man vs machine!!! A 32 year old stud against a 26 year old heap of rust – ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’… Excitement was at fever pitch. The whole town was talking about the race that would define an age! (possible exaggeration/creative license).
The first hint of trouble came an hour before departure. A deep booming of distant thunder taunted me… daring me to lace up my running shoes! Challenge accepted Thor!
So race time came and the rain had yet to show. I leapt from the car and hit the road running as Geoff floored the accelerator and thundered off into the distance (yet more hyperbole). The first mile was a baptism of fire. One thing I hadn’t factored was the shocking coverage of the road. From the car it appeared there was a light covering of loose stones… from the ground it was plain that this ‘light’ covering was in fact a scree field, incredibly treacherous and most definitely NOT ideal race conditions!
Bravely I soldiered on, determined to have covered a significant distance before Geoff inevitably came whizzing past. The skyline was looking fairly menacing by now, what with the huge black (and I mean BLACK) cloud creeping ever closer towards me. Rain however seemed like a welcome release, as by now I was gasping quite badly due to the oppressive humidity and endless clouds of dust thrown up for passing motorists (all secretly giggling at the drama yet to unfold).
And then the rain hit like a cactus in the eyeball. Fat, spiky drops of rain pounded me with astounding force. Never before have I experienced rain like that. Within seconds I was drenched, and my clothes tripled in weight, yet still I soldiered on….. just another hurdle to overcome! It was at this exact moment of optimism that Geoff passed me, window down, asking if I wanted to jump in. I scoffed at him, giving a nonchalant gesture to carry on (because if I’d have opened my mouth I probably would have drowned).
There was now no other option… I had to finish it! Onward!!!!!! Until I rounded the corner to face a monstrous uphill section with approximately zero protection from the elements… I must have missed that one during the planning stage… oops!
Upon reaching the top my confidence and lungs were in tatters, but thankfully the road had levelled out. I slowed the pace and began to admire the countryside when…. WHAMMY!!!!! A fork of lightning slammed into the nearby field, a few hundred meters from my location. The storm was directly overhead which meant a groin-grabbingly loud crack of thunder accompanied it.
Now I don’t really believe in coincide, so I can only assume that there was a knock on effect after the lightning, as almost instantaneously I felt an unsettling rumble in my stomach. Not the rumble of hunger nor the rumble of sickness… the rumble of imminent embarrassment! Still over 5km from basecamp and the safety of the latrine I realized I was in a bit of a pickle.
I decided to pick up the pace, but then stopped quick sharp when it became clear that the running motion only seemed to aggravate the situation… and that was THE LAST THING I wanted to do. No aggravation….. zero aggravation! Think calming, solid thoughts!
And so my run was transformed into a slow trudge… the slow trudge of a man on the edge. It now became a very different test of endurance. It was still an exercise in mind over matter, but now the stakes were much, much higher! Staggering back sodden was fine. Staggering back sodden with soiled underpants was not.
My colon and sphincter waged an almighty war over those last 5km… similar at times to the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog, “You shall not pass!!!”.
Every remembered landmark only served to remind me that I was still a long way from safety, and I dare not let my defence down for even a second, lest I unleash the floodgates.
What transpired in those 5km was an absolute masterclass in concentration, composure, and a pure will to succeed. What transpired when I reached the lavatory was joy unadulterated.
If this ever gets made into a film I think ‘Evacuation’ by Pearl Jam would be highly appropriate