September 30, 2023
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Duy Nguyen informed his story to producer Stepfanie Aguiliar for an episode of The Every day Rally podcast. It has been edited for size and readability.

I knew it was gonna be arduous, however I didn’t anticipate, actually, how, how weak-minded I might turn into. Actually wanting all of it to be over like, I don’t care what number of miles are left, I wanna go residence. And I believed I might beat that mindset, and I used to be higher than that mindset.

I’m in Los Angeles, California. I used to be born in Vietnam, got here to America after I was one years outdated, and lived on the East Coast, Virginia, for about 18 years.

Professionally I run a few companies. I’ve a restaurant out in LA. I’m a neighborhood organizer, host a few completely different occasion, I’ve a run membership.

I went on a visit to Haiti to movie this documentary about common folks working throughout the nation for this nonprofit. I noticed what working might do.

It was 200 miles over seven days, and these folks weren’t skilled athletes.You’ll see these folks working down the road in your neighborhood. And so after I shot this, I sort of realized, Hey, this working factor is fairly cool.

These are all strangers, they determined to run throughout this nation. The bond that they constructed, the relationships that had been shaped, it was such an unimaginable factor to see. I got here again to LA and informed my pal Mike, “Hey, we gotta do a run membership. We gotta get folks working.”

My pal and I began Koreatown Run Membership perhaps eight years in the past. We weren’t runners, and we sort of simply obtained pulled into the working world. Assembly all these folks, and eager to do one thing completely different and new, we’d by no means thought it’d develop and alter our lives to the way it has right now.

This run throughout Haiti is sort of what began my working journey and beginning the run membership. I might return yearly after they would do the run. The primary 12 months, I introduced a pal from the run membership, they usually completed it, and I filmed them. I documented the entire journey.
The following 12 months, I used to be like, You recognize what? I obtained three marathons below my belt. I sort of know what I’m doing. I’m simply gonna run it. I’m simply gonna enroll. And I signed as much as run the 200 miles. And actually, I believed I knew what I used to be getting myself into.

So March or April 2018 was after I ran. It’s a multi-day factor. Once you’re working 200 miles throughout Haiti, you gotta run a marathon, after which the following day you gotta run one other marathon. It’s very hectic on the physique, clearly. Ultras are completely different than marathons for certain. It’s a distinct mindset you go into to complete it.

So the 12 months I ran it, I actually knew lots of people there, however actually, I used to be by myself plenty of the time, as a result of the group spreads out once you’re working 30 to 40 miles per day. Me being on the slower finish, I used to be coming in fairly late.

The primary day, a 32-mile day, I did it. Clearly it was arduous. However I did it, after which I had six days left. The second day was solely 13 miles, but it surely was over a literal mountain.

All through the day, I simply obtained slower and slower and an increasing number of drained, as you’ll, and my thoughts was simply getting in a extremely darkish place like, Man, I’m protecting everybody behind, I’m slowing every little thing down. There was a truck following me, ensuring I used to be OK at that time. That truck had different issues to do, however as a substitute it was simply pacing me on the finish, and I simply felt actually dangerous. I used to be strolling, and I might stroll positive. I wasn’t injured or something, however my coronary heart simply wasn’t in it. My lungs simply weren’t in it. I used to be actually eager to cease at that time.

I used to be simply strolling they usually had been strolling with me they usually had been speaking with me. “How are you doing?” And I simply didn’t wanna discuss in any respect. I simply needed to inform them, “Simply depart me, I’ll end and I’ll see you there.” However they didn’t, they usually most likely shouldn’t as a result of, you recognize, safety-wise, you don’t know what can occur on the market.

Then it simply obtained to some extent the place I used to be like, You recognize what, I’m gonna name it. I’m protecting everybody up. I don’t wanna be the man that mainly walked this entire factor.

So I referred to as it, I used to be like, “It’s OK, I’m gonna get within the truck.” And so they’re like,”OK no drawback.”

I obtained within the truck, I drove perhaps half a mile up the route, and I used to be on the prime of the mountain at that time. From then on it was perhaps two miles, all downhill.

That’s after I sort of felt it. I used to be like, Man, I might have simply walked for an additional ten minutes and I might’ve been on the prime of this mountain, and I might have simply coasted down. However the second I obtained into the truck was the second I took that DNF, which stands for didn’t end.

I knew even when I ran each different day of this race, I’d nonetheless have that asterisk of not working these three final miles, of entering into the truck and going again residence.

And so the following day I felt actually dangerous. Everybody was sympathetic and every little thing. They knew the place I used to be coming from. They knew I wasn’t a “actual” extremely marathoner, or runner. And, I did too, however I actually needed to have the ability to say, “Hey, I ran throughout Haiti, the race that obtained me into working.”

Regardless that I didn’t end that second day, there have been 5, six days left.

It’s loopy as a result of once you’re working a marathon otherwise you’re doing one thing actually arduous and then you definitely come as much as the cheer zone the place all your pals are they usually’re cheering for you, you simply get this enhance of power that I can’t clarify. You simply run arduous. You simply get all this power from seemingly nowhere. For a quick second, every little thing’s good. Every little thing’s cool. You’re not in ache.

When that third day got here and there was like no actual strain, I used to be like, Effectively, nobody’s taking a look at me. Nobody actually is anticipating something from me. I’m simply gonna have enjoyable. And I went on the market and I simply ran. I didn’t actually take into consideration ending it. It’s like, Hey, if I don’t end, I already didn’t end.

So I simply ran with no strain, simply enjoyable, all smiles. Ran with completely different teams. And I felt actually good. I felt actually, actually good.

The ultimate day was 52 miles. I had run the entire thing with my pal Iggy. I do know he had suffered from an ankle harm, so we’d most likely be going the identical tempo. And we ran the entire thing collectively and we actually pushed that final two miles.

Me and my pal had been simply working from pole to pole. There’s somewhat mild pole, you run there. Then, “Let’s go to that different mild pole. Let’s go to that different mild pole.” And it’s only a straight shot, and there’s nothing actually round. You’re simply working from one mild pole to the following endlessly.

And I simply keep in mind, Oh my goodness, it’s about to be over. We’re lastly going to cease working and we don’t must run once more the following day. And we ran all the way in which to the seashore, and he ran actually all the way in which to the seashore and obtained into the water. As soon as I handed that end line, I simply sat down and watched him get within the water and I used to be like, I’m completed transferring. Subsequent time I’m transferring, I’m going again within the automotive, going to the restaurant. However I simply needed to sit down down, and that’s what I did. I sat down and mirrored over the previous couple days, and I used to be pleased with myself, as a result of I continued on and I did run 160-some miles. And for me at the moment, that was a giant factor. So I used to be pleased with myself for with the ability to end that, particularly that final day. As a result of the final day was actually, actually powerful.

I knew I needed to join it once more whereas I used to be nonetheless there. I used to be most likely the primary individual to enroll, and I got here residence and I used to be like, Yeah, I ran most of it. I didn’t do all of it. However I knew that it was only a private factor. Nobody considered me any in another way. They weren’t like, “He stated he was gonna do one factor and he solely, he didn’t.” It wasn’t something like that.

I noticed myself how others noticed me. It wasn’t a failure. It was like a studying expertise. In fact, one factor I actually realized from that have was to essentially take a step again outdoors of what’s occurring, outdoors of how you are feeling, outdoors of what you’re even pondering. Suppose extra clearly about every little thing that’s taking place round you. I really feel like if I had completed that, I might not have dropped out. I might not have gotten on that truck. I might’ve stated, I’m half a mile from the height and I can cruise down, and end and proceed on to the following day.

However I wasn’t pondering clearly. I believe I used to be simply too within the second. Everybody says to reside within the second, however generally it’s important to take a step again and pause and perhaps simply cease working and stroll and actually take into consideration what’s occurring earlier than you make any choices like that.

Don’t put an excessive amount of strain on your self. And simply carry ahead.

Duy Nguyen is a inventive entrepreneur and community-builder primarily based in Los Angeles, the place he co-founded the Koreatown Run Membership. He’s nonetheless hoping to return to Haiti to finish the run once more, this time formally. For extra details about his work, try

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