I’m back! With things to tell! I could come up with excuses, try to explain why this has been pretty much dead for the last month or so, but let’s go straight to what’s important here: running news!
The biggest thing that happened was a last-minute marathon: The Kasterlee Marathon. But unlike when I did Antwerp earlier this year, this time I was prepared. After Zeeland, I hadn’t taken any time to relax. And even though I fell sick in the beginning of the week (a team event in London might have something to do with that), I still felt kind of right that morning.
Breakfast, gear check and straight to Kasterlee. They promised 90% trail and the rain had been really heavy, so all signs were pointing towards a heavy, long run. After about 150k of rainy roads, I met up with Greg and we got our numbers and got to the starting line. As usual, we headed straight to the back of the pack, no intentions of running a crazy time. The atmosphere was good and at the strike of 10 the masses started moving. Masses, because there was also a semi and there were quite a lot of folks participating in that one.
After about 2k of roads, we finally got to the trail part. Single line tracks mostly, hardly any overtaking, and I was getting bored. Even though I’d been a bit pessimistic about the cold and wearing a longsleave, I felt really good. I talked about it with Greg and he said he was going to stick to the pace we were doing, which was just over 10km/h. Somewhere in between k3 and k4 and after about 20 minutes, I decided to give it a go. We said our goodbyes and I took off.
My pace went from 5’30” / km to 4’30” or less / km. Needless to say I was overtaking people by the dozen, which kind of sucked with the narrow trail. After 2 minutes, my shoes were soaked, which kind of made things easier: I no longer had to try to keep them dry and could just run straight through everything. I was running about 4’10 and less / km now, and I felt great! Whenever I felt like my heart was having a hard time keeping up, I slowed down just a bit, but 200m further I already felt good to go again, so my times never really dropped below 4’30”. Around 10km I started overtaking people who were already struggling. Let’s hope for them they were doing the semi. Either way, some people obviously came unprepared or started way to fast. I smiled, but couldn’t be bothered to stick around and sailed on. I passed halfway around 1:38 I guess. Solid time and what’s more: I was still feeling fresh and was still catching up with people.
I guess now is as good a time as any for a small intermezzo. If you read this blog every now and then, you may know that I have some friends that are into running as well, and that we call ourself the “run to the hills” team (Maiden rules!) whenever a team needs to be entered in some race registration form. And in this group, Nonkel was the proud owner of the historical Marathon record with a great time somewhere around 3:11. So it was around the halfway point that I started to realise this was totally within reach.
Motivation rose and so did my speed, but I had to do it alone this time. With the Semi-marathon runners gone, I had to bridge the gaps between runners alone. And since I had, by that time, entered the top 50 of the race, there weren’t as many runners anymore, so the gaps became bigger. I consolidated my pace and kept going.
I didn’t really check my watch until around km 38. I had just under 20 minutes left to end in 3:10. This was totally doable! I was getting tired though. The legs mostly I guess. Breathing was still steady, but the legs started getting sore. But I was so close, I couldn’t let this slip out of my hands. I was still catching up with other runners, so I wasn’t slowing down, or at least not as much as they were.
In the end, I finished in an official 3:09:09, but with correction at the starting line, more like 3:07:24, putting me just in the top 30 of over 400 finishers. Satisfied, obviously, and more than ever dreaming about that 3:00:00 barrier, which should be possible on a good day, with less mud and a more focussed preparation. To be continued, obviously!
Next up is the Kerstcorrida of Tielt, a short 10k run, to keep up traditions.