Hm, yeah. I know. That title doesn’t sound impressive at all. But then again, it IS the name of this pretty rad race in Kuurne. Last year, I ran the race as pace maker for a Gwendolyn (who eventually won the race) and finished just over 1h20 myself, a personal best on the half marathon. Since, though, I improved that best at the Havenloop. Putting things in perspective, I was just back from Gran Canaria and had hardly put in any running at all since UTMB. So bottom line: I had no idea what to expect. At all.
With no one to set pace for and thus no-one hold back for or keep going for, I was going to have to set my own pace. I wouldn’t have been too nervous about that prospect if it were a trail run where I just run a pace I feel comfortable at, but this was different. I was trying to break a record time. I’d done this exact same race before and being slower would feel like failure. I was nervous.
I positioned myself rather up front, still not feeling at ease at the front of the pack, but somewhere knowing I deserved my place in that top 50 area. I see Gwendolyn and wish her all the best. She’d become a close second this year in a full on sprint. I bet she was just missing her pacer ;-). But enough of that! Where was I? Oh right: at the starting line of the race! And then a shot rang.
And off we were! With so little training, the pace was killing me. My warm up had been very rudimentary and I was feeling it. I truly have a love-hate relation with this sort of races. I like to push my limits and get all competitive, sure. I love it when I set a new PB or when I end up somewhere in the front pack. But it hurts so much and there’s so little time or space to actually enjoy the run.
On top of that, there’s so little to talk about afterwards: I did 4 pretty much identical laps, didn’t see anything but asphalt and the back of the guys in front of me, and that’s about all I noticed during the run. Well, that’s a lie: I remember having a hard time keeping the pace I set out from the start. The course turned out to be harder than I remembered. Before the race, I was rather convinced I’d be able to beat the 1:16:06 of the Havenloop since that course was just turn after turn after turn. But this one had a bit more climbing to it, I guess I kind of forgot about that. So the 1:16:06 soon was out of reach as well and although my split times tell different, I felt like I was totally losing my pace & rhythm and was slowing down A LOT. But I did slow down some and eventually finished 20th overall in 1:17:53. Not the time I was hoping for, but still quite a bit faster than last year’s time. Mixed emotions at first, but after putting things into perspective (not in the least the limited amount of running I’d done) & all things considered, pretty happy about the whole thing.
On top of that, it’s just a fun race with lots of people in and at the side of the course. So hey, if all goes well: until next year!