20km of Brussels 2016

The 20km of Brussels are becoming a bit of a tradition. For the first few years, I ran the race together with some friends. We had fun, but sticking together was hard and it was hard to enjoy the race together. So in 2015, I ran the race flat-out and set a, to my standards, nice PB and this year, I wanted to beat that time.

One big difference with this year, though: Thanks to time of 2015, I can start in the front of the first starter group. The fact that I wouldn’t have to zig-zag through a huge pack of runners during the first 5 kilometers raised my expectations.

So I position myself somewhere in the front of the pack, meet the Veldeman brothers, 3 brothers who went to the Hawaii Ironman together. We chat for a bit while Ravel’s Bolero is playing at full volume, evolving towards its magnificent climax. A shot! We’re off.

Starting in the front means I don’t have to zig-zag my way through other runners for the first 5k, which should be an advantage. I spot some other Delhaize runners (for the second year in a row, I’m running for Think Pink) ahead. This could be fun, a competition within the competition!

It’s hard, though. The goal is to finish around 1h10, which means 3’30” for every kilometer, a bit over 17k/h. And that’s fast to my standards! I see one of the Delhaize runners move away from me, but hey, it’s a long way to go, and there’s the Tervurenlaan climb towards the end.

After a fast start, I have trouble keeping up the pace. 3’40”, 3’45” a kilometer. Not fast enough. Oh well, no drama, I’ll just try to beat last year’s time and if that works out, that’d be great! And on top of that, I start catching other runners now!

Well in the second half of the race, I feel empty. It’d appear afterwards that I didn’t slow down one bit and I was still overtaking other runners, but it didn’t feel that way. Show character now! Run! I catch up with a little group and stick around for a while, recovering. Before I know, I’m leading the pack and they’re on my tail instead.

17k, the Tervurenlaan climb. Even though me and my gang are still overtaking other runners, the first of the Veldeman brothers overtake me. I cheer for them. They cheer for me. Good vibes here. I can’t keep up with them. These guys are fierce. A bit later, their third brother catches up with me as well. Crazy family!

18k. The climb comes to an end and I speed up a little. I check my watch. It’s going to be a close call. I finish in an official 1h13’37”, 111th overall. 3 seconds slower, but 3 places better in the ranking compared to last year. Mixed feelings. The dominant feeling is the amazement to what I pulled off last year, starting in the middle of the pack.

In the end, I’m happy. My time sure proves that my shape isn’t as bad as I’ve been thinking the last few months. And my time gives me a spot in the front group for the next edition, so I’ll just give that 1h10′ dream another shot next year.

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