I don’t think I could have anticipated the impact quitting UTMB would have had on me. And for a while, I was in denial. The trip to Gran Canaria helped. A change of environment. Nature. Tons of hikes and a good run. I felt back at it. But the weeks after that trip, I lost my hunger for running. I guess you could call it running depression.
For Kim, however, it had been an eye-opener. Not that she’d never run in nature before, but during our hikes in Gran Canaria, I’d been giving her some tips on how to do a fast climb & decent and we started thinking about organising trail running classes. First, however, she wanted to do at least one propper trail run, so she entered the 15k Houffatrail. I decided to go for the 25k version, not feeling up for the 5K one just yet. And so on Dec 6th, we headed for Houffalize, trail paradise in Belgium. With limited ambitions but tons of excitement.
I was up first. Kim would start 2 hours later and I had this plan that, If I could somehow manage to run the course in 2 hours, I’d just start again and run the 15k race as well. And for a while, things were looking really good. The first part of the race is quite runnable, “roullante” as the French would say. But then came the second part, which holds most of the vertical meters, and with it the tiredness and empty legs. I was feeling the lack of training. Hard.
I wasn’t losing places so I guess I was doing ok, but it surely didn’t feel that way. I quickly lost my margin on the 2h scheme and started falling behind. Still, I enjoyed being out there again. I guess it dawned on me that, rather than being tired of running, I’d been tired of running the same laps, the same area, over and over again. One final descent and towards the finish line. I was happy I hadn’t gone for the 50k race, although I’d have set out at a different pace and it all would have been different. 2:09:14 and 36th overall. Pretty happy about that, all things considered.
All this of course also meant I’d missed Kim’s start and I decided to take some time to recover and retrace the last bit of the race to meet her along the course, which I did somewhere about 2k from the finish line. I joined her for the last bit. Things were looking good. Still not too confident in the descents, but she was still talking which, in her words, means she could actually go faster. But we both had good fun and the Houffatrail really is a nice trail to run. Maybe I’ll do the full weekend next year, although it is quite pricy. But I really like the kamikaze concept and I don’t feel like driving all the way to Houffalize for such a short run. The trail distance / trip distance ratio is just terribly off if I do that…
Also published on Medium.