This past Sunday I consecutively had my best and worst experiences since I have been in Bali. As most of you know, I ran in the Bali marathon and as I told my two biggest supporters in an email, this next part could be on the top of the list as one of the hardest things I've ever had to say.... I did not finish the marathon. Instead, I took an ambulance ride to the hospital. This whole journey in Bali wouldn't be complete without a dramatic trip to the hospital right? More on that in a bit, I'll let you read about the good stuff first!
The gun went off at 5am and the first mile or so kids and adults, dressed in their traditional ceremonial clothing lined the streets with torches since the roads were pitch black. As the course was fairly hilly from the start, looking ahead was out of this world. The rolling hills were just lined with the flickering torches and all of the torch holders had extremely proud smiles on their faces.
The sun started to come up around 6am, at which point I had, what seemed like never ending, green rice fields on either side of me. In my 15 years of running, I have run many races while watching the sunrise and this was by far, without a doubt the most beautiful and peaceful sunrise run I have ever experienced. When I looked out onto the rice fields with the sky as the backdrop it was as if everything stopped. I was in awe. Then, as my mind normally does, possibly as a way to hold the memory, I came up with the song "Fields of Gold" by Sting, which all of my life I have thought the lyrics were "Upon the fields of Bali". I have very recently learned that the lyrics are in fact not what I thought for my whole life and when I say my whole life, I mean since 1993 when the song actually came out but they are "Upon the fields of Barley" and I am utterly heartbroken that Sting did not write a song about the fields of Bali! For this experience however, I am going to use my lyrics instead.
Along with the spectacular sunrise that I had just seen, the rest of the first half of the race villagers lined the streets to cheer everyone on. Kids that were dressed in their school P.E. uniforms formed tunnels to run through holding out their hands so that we would high five them as we ran past. They had noise makers (Balinese style) and chanted "Oleh, oleh, oleh" as everyone ran past. I honestly felt like a superstar, could not stop smiling and had chills throughout most of the first half. It was beyond words and unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Now onto the second half of the race, which did not go as well as the first half. It was almost as if the race coordinators forgot about the second half. There weren't any water stations for 6 or 8 miles and at that point the sun was full blast and it was about 85 degrees and I didn't see a kilometer marker from 23km until 31km so I had no idea where I was in the race. I made it to 38km, less than 4 miles from the finish and my body just gave up on me. Luckily, a police officer was near by and when I passed out he somehow got me to the nearest medical tent on his motorbike. At the med tent, where I came back to consciousness, my body went into panic mode and every muscle from my jaw and neck muscles down to my toes cramped up. I think since I was yelling in agony and was in no condition to speak, not that they understood English anyway, the situation was out of their hands so they put me in the back of an ambulance. It was the most scary and hectic situation I have ever been in. I was in and out of consciousness, I had tubes in my nose, there was never ending honking in the background (no sirens??) and people were yelling at me in Indonesian. The only thing I understood was when they called out "satu, satu, satu, enam" (1116) my bib number. Then there is the experience of being rushed into a hospital, in a third world country nonetheless, on a stretcher. All you can see are the fluorescent lights on the ceiling rushing past you. Like I said scary and hectic.... I lived to tell the story though and thus I have my best and worst of Bali so far all wrapped into one!
There is a lot of learning for me to take away from this past Sunday because as I said, saying that I didn't finish is extremely hard for me to say but I suppose it's all part of the journey...