After last year, I really wanted to do this again: The Antwerp double. The single objective was in the distance, not in the time, so I took things easy. I guess one could call this a training run, but then I never consider running to be training. It’s just running. Be what it may be, I woke up at 6.30, geared up and packed spare gear, headed for Antwerp and parked close to the starting line (the advantage of arriving well before the herd for the 10 Miles race arrives).
I met with Joeri “Running Cremeke” Schepers, pacing both the Marathon and the 10 miles and we chatted a bit about past & future endeavors. And then it was 09:00, a shot rang and off we were. While the video wall showed living legend Jesse Stoobants pacing that other living legend Gino van Geyte and the eventual winner (in 2.16, thereby qualifying for the Olympics in 2016) of the marathon, Florent Caelen, we were shuffling towards the starting line until finally, about 5 minutes later, we were off!
I moved up slowly, trying not to bother too many people, until I saw Raf aka Voorvoetlander running just before me. We started chatting and ended up sticking together until the half-way point. Really interesting & allround nice guy. I don’t want to judge people on the reasons why they run and any reason is good, don’t get me wrong. But with Raf, I feel he’s running for all the right reasons and it’s always inspiring to meet people like him.
Anyway, at the halfway point, we said our goodbyes and I speeded up. Even though I started with heavy legs, things were going just fine now. I bridged the gap with the 3h30 pacer group in about 6k, stuck around for a while and then decided to move on. I’d merely left them behind and just arrived in the Rivierenhof park, when someone said my name. Turned out the be Dries, a friend of a friend and another avid runner, doing the Marathon + 10 miles. He was pacing a friend for a sub 3h30 time and I stuck around for a bit until we reached the supply post at 36k.
36k is usually where runners start tosuffer, if they aren’t suffering already. It’s where you notice you haven’t been training enough or you have been running too fast. I wasn’t suffering. I wasn’t noticing a thing. Maybe it doesn’t tell much given the slower first half, but it was still great to know that my overall endurance shape was getting back to familiar levels again. So I speeded up and left Dries & his buddy behind, finally finishing in about 3h17, relax, smiling.
And then comes the hard part: The waiting. I finished around 12:20 and the start of the 10 Miles wasn’t until 15.30. As tradition has it, I found myself a bakery to refuel. Apple turnovers are the ambrosia of our time, I’m telling you. Apple turnovers and Meli waffles! Once that was taken care of, I headed to the pacer team meeting point, freshened up a bit, changed clothes and ran a bit to re-activate the legs. And then it was time to head to the starting line, a huge red balloon with “1h30” on it attached to my back. I actually felt more stressed than for the marathon because I didn’t want to let down the people who were counting on me to bring them in under 1h30. Oh boy.
Having to run a certain pace like clockwork is different. I can’t say I really enjoyed looking at my clock constantly and having to think about the people following me. It’s especially counterintuitive to hold back when going downhill. But in the end, the words of gratitude at the finish line from people who achieved their goal (even though they mostly owed it to themselves and their preparations I guess) easily made up for it. Thanks for that!
So mission accomplished, 60k of solid training, a small boost in confidence and ready for what, over the past 2 weeks, became a goal on its own: The Wings for Life World Run!
Oh and, one more thing…