a hard training-day, so I might as well enjoy it…

Antwerp, october 20th 2019

Training for The Deca has really begun (blog on that might follow later), so for the past few weeks it was time to up the running-mileage… To make sure I keep it fun, I decided to try and vary my running routes, so when there was a 4-hour ‘easy run’ on the schedule and I saw that there was a small-scale marathon in Antwerp I asked coach if it was OK to run a bit shorter than 4 hours, and a bit faster than ‘easy’… And luckily she said ‘yes’…

The “Linkeroevert Marathon” takes place at “Linkeroever” (the ‘left’ or ‘west’ side of the river Schelde), and looking at the map the 4-lap course brings back some memories; I will be running around the ‘Galgenweel’ lake, where I swam during my first middle-distance triathlon (ironman70.3 antwerp in 2012)…
The plan will be simple; run without looking at the clock, push hard, and see what happens along the way… I’ve really no idea how my marathon-pace is at the moment, with all the ultra-work I’ve been doing…

I get to Antwerp in time, sign in, and get the most epic marathon-race bib possible: nr. 42042… Knowing that all numbers that start with ’42’ will be marathon runners (there’s also some shorter distances today), and I registered an hour before the start, you could figure out that there’s not a lot of runners doing the 42km today…

best. racenumber. ever.

At the start line the small group gathers, and when the gun goes off we’re away… It takes about 2km, but then I’m on my own, seeing one or two faster runners disappear in the distance… Seems like it’s going to be a lonely race!

it’s crowded at the start…

Since this was a total-last-minute plan, I didn’t do my homework when it comes to the course… Because it’s a marathon in a big city, I kind of figured it should be a flat and ‘easy’ course… But I forgot that life never is as simple as that… At the end of the first long straight road the course leads into a park; a cobblestone-road turns into a field with some holes (so stay focused!), and then back onto various footpaths (both cobblestones and ‘Belgian-quality roads’), and there’s a few twists and turns that mess up the running rhythm… But my biggest surprise is the beach… (mainly since I didn’t even know there was a sand-beach by the river!). It’s only about 100meters every lap, but it drains the energy immediately. Then again, I’m not here to race, I’m here to have a hard training-day, so I might as well enjoy it!

At the far end of the loop there’s the lap around the lake. I remember, when standing at the start line in 2012 and seeing the buoys marking out the 1900meter swim-course, that it was enormous… Well, distance is a weird thing, now the lake doesn’t look that large anymore! But running around it makes me smile, there’s so many happy memories from my early days of racing… And so many adventures after that…

the lake in 2012… that was a long swim… (or so I thought back then…)

The first lap goes by pretty quickly, just stay focused, enjoy a new course, and eat and drink at the planned moments… Lap 2 is a lonely one; I can’t see anyone in front of me… Luckily we pass the event-field twice per lap, and with different races going on today there’s quite a few people and a good vibe there…

…focused and fast running…

After the second lap I see the clock, and realise that I’m on a 3hour20minutes pace. Wow, that’s a lot faster than I expected to run today! Later I realise that the first 2 laps had an extra loop through the park, and were 1km longer than the final 2 laps, so I was well over halfway, and therefore running even faster than I thought… But by the time I figure that out I can’t do any calculations about a predicted finish-time anymore…

it’s getting a bit hard…

It’s hard to push myself now; I’m running fast, so it hurts, and I can push the pain away, but since it’s lonely on the course it’s easy to forget it’s a race, and I find myself slowing down now and again. But when I see one of the many volunteers I ‘wake up’, and switch right back into race-mode and start pushing…

When I start the final lap I decide to give it all I’ve got… And if there’s one thing I’ve learned while running long distances, it’s to run ‘comfortably hard’, even when the body tries to tell you otherwise (well, until you can’t really run anymore… but that’s not a state that I’m entering during a marathon!).

…well into the final lap…

So I run hard… Well, the straight sections of the course, where I can get into my own rhythm… But every time that rhythm breaks (be it at the beach, or over the cobblestones, or at a tight 180 degree turn) I need time to find the rhythm again, and that means the pace drops down quite a bit during the final 10km…
Luckily the last 1500meters or so is a simple straight line, so I can push hard for a final ‘sprint’, and finish just under 3hours and 17minutes… Never expected to run this fast today, especially on this course…

Tired, in pain, and happy with a good run I grab a hot shower, get some food, chat with the fellow runners (that’s always a nice thing about small-scale events), and after a little walk through Antwerp I drive back home… A nice last-minute city-trip done!

 

Linkeroevert Marathon Antwerp

42.195km – 3’16’57 (6th place)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *