Breaking through Breaking2

- a personal emotional marathon of sorts by Nanna Munnecke

I’ve never found it easy. Running. It took me a long time to even start. I am no expert, I don’t think in right and wrong — what I found in running was a confidence and freedom so profound it changed my core in all meanings of the word. It took a leap of courage and faith to get me started and since my first run I have had the feeling of thrilling excitement when I find something challenging.

When Eliud Kipchoge Zersenay Tadese Lelisa Desisa carved their way through a very intense air on the Monza Formula 1 track in Monza the morning of Saturday 6th I was there — my voice is still hoarse from shouting and my heart body and mind still filled with the wild experience.

In my own running journey, I learned how to enjoy jumping off the cliff into even the darkest waters — from 10Ks to 100K’s bring it on.

In the most interpersonal space the ability to do something new, to change something profoundly, lies at the most intimate deep and often protected place. Cognitive vibrations. I’m obsessed with this — and it is not that I myself do it well — I have changed one good thing, which is to see challenges as interesting rather than dangerous. So how on earth do you break through the gates of perceived obstacles that hold back progress?

This is what the platform @voltwomen I co-founded is about. That’s why I was there. The runners challenging them self and the heart of the culture was so intriguing. And I had the chance to witness and be reminded of what it means to work your way to the edge and jump.

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On May 6th Nike set up the attempt to ‘break two’ — breaking the two- hour barrier for the marathon distance.

Three runners we selected and trained for the day — Eliud Kipchoge Zersenay Tadese Lelisa Desisa — with Kipchoge as lead.

The world record is 2:02:57, set by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya on September 28, 2014, at the Berlin Marathon. and Nike and a team of scientists, innovators and runner set out to challenge the mythical barrier to go below 2.

For three days in May I was invited to the ‘Breaking2’ camp with 100 runners — to watch the race, meet the team behind the designs and a group of runners with similar enthusiasm around moving muscles and skeleton in speed.

Photo We run clan

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It is initially what running gave me — on a micro scale — a greater sense of stretch in capabilities — more bandwith and courage to do more.
 It was really interesting to watch the race with that in mind. When was the last time you thoroughly spread them wings and flew of a cliff?
 Of crs I know we are talking big steps — even leaps here. But really? And who guided you? Who told you it was possible? or impossible? Who nurtured your faith and ran next to you as you set off? If you say you arrived your own I won’t believe you.

Collective efficiency

You ultimately run alone. No matter how wonderful the person next to you is. No matter how many there are. It is your body your skeleton — but like in life you are contaminated by the energy around you — the mood and relief — the support. You even mirror it.

So while you run alone you form a collective driving force.

It was dark when the Tesla pacer car silently passed us the first time — in a arrow formation the pacemakers literally carved the air in front.

The three runners in red blue and white in the middle outlined by their pacers who seemed to move the whole idea forward convincing everyone lap by lap.

In a race, no matter who you are, where you came from, what your brought in the first place — you will strip your soul for everything and everyone else and reveal only your most determined self. Shedding all layers of excess — body, mind, heart.
 You share that vulnerability with the closest and the extended group. With the eyes watching, heart pounding. 
 The balance of the individual runner and the pack running together as a unit — multi legged beast mode — feels so elevated in importance. This too makes the #breaking2 a spectacle

The unity of the formation and the smooth ballet of pacers flying in and out on each lap made the race so particular.

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“FIGICHAA…means running”. We run with the pacers from yesterday’s race. around 30 of the fastest most promising runners from, among other places Kenya Ethiopia and Eritrea. We thoroughly applaud and thank them for the intense effort and likewise inspiration.

Every pacer I ask lights up when they say running in their native language. I learn. And we dance 7 kilometers in rhythmic vibrant pace. We turn off kanye & Kendrick and Nikolas from Kenya take over the playlist and every turn we stopped for a dance battle. Eternally stuck in these illuminating runs think how how how can I recreate the feeling — giving everything I have — running or dancing.

I’ve just fallen in love with running for the 100th time.

Photo Fred Goris

(Nickolas DJ https://instagram.com/p/BTya1PzAV-P/

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Breaking

On that Saturday in Monza Eliud ran the world’s fastest marathon in 2:00:25.

“I’ve never experienced something so intense” I tell everyone who has ears and forget every single life event past this, even childbirth (don’t tell my kids) “I cried three times on a live feed” I awkwardly try to explain “It was the most intense 2hrs and we ran it out and celebrated in words and moves for two days”

[Video 1 After the race] https://instagram.com/p/BT6X3xvgvVW/

After The runners crossed the finish line we found ourselves on the side of the track in an emotional whirlwind — as if the 17laps had tossed us around at the core of our identity. As runners that is. Ruaa, another camp participant who runs in Oman had told me the day before how she just started running not that long ago, that 7K is her longest run, that she finds it hard but also nice to run alone, and the goal is getting to that point where she misses it.

… and then this happened.

Just after the #breaking2 race we got to run on the track. The energy still stuck to the tarmac the atmosphere and the emotional morning. Ruaa did her best 5K and here the day after as we ran and danced with the pacers she broke her own 7K world record. But all that is personal metrics — you should see her glow…

[Video 2 Ruaa] https://instagram.com/p/BT37auaFPHM/

Ruaa ran her fastest during our days in Monza — two laps and a bit just after people had left the stadium. Phoenix too. And Josh the drummer crushed his PB on the mile and 5K. I also ran my fastest 5K in a long time — I felt the concrete and muscles tighten on the back stretch where no one had been cheering on the day. For me feeling faster meant more than I think my friends knew — that morning I witnessed history but that run cemented the functionality of the running journey in me. First round next to Paula Radcliffe — I remembered lightness, I remembered muscles, I remembered pain and eventually after finishing I remembered breathing again — the sense of magic atmosphere had lifted — we were just bodies moving — meat blood bones ligaments guts pulse. That’s when it really dawned on me that the real magic is that there is no magic — just work.

Before I left there was a discussion on FB around speed and inclusion. Some found it not inclusive to focus so much on speed.

My point will always be that speed — your own notion of speed — is at the core of running, speed surrounded by endurance, community, energy, health all the vibes — but at the core discovering what fast means and how you train and push and realize… core for the guys who challenged 2 — core for Ruaa’s fastest K’s

The #Breaking2 attempt in Monza has filled me with this vibe — an ultimate concentration of breaking barriers, pushing limits — on elevated levels. How do you push yourself? Push a culture? Push a sport — further. What will this mean for running — for the culture of running? for my running? — and more than that it really is a study in human character and what we can do — doing more than we think we are capable of doing.

#epilogue

After I’ve returned home and sat emptying my brain and suitcase full of running on the floor — blissfully stinky in clothes I’ve worn for four days — real life was already creeping in on me as I’m running late to pick up my son. I deliberately don’t look myself in the eye passing the mirror and run down the stairs. Rhythmic double steps. Out the door I speed up, hair is waving in the wind — I feel muscles tighten- haven’t run this much in a while — back thigh says hi as I’m crossing the street to the metro station in gigantic leaps I realize I’m still wearing the bag pack we got in Monza — in red letters it’s saying #breaking2

Photos Fred Goris, Pim Rikes, Melo Johann Guerini

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