April update

a perfect day on the bike…

Halfway through a 150km bikeride I start to really enjoy myself… Riding over a perfectly flat course, knowing that the next corner is over 25 kilometers away, I start to get into a steady rhythm. Then I see my current speed on my garmin. Oh crap… 56km/hour, and I’m going easy… That could mean that either I’m in the best shape of my life (might be true, but even then this situation would be unlikely), or that the way back home is going to hurt, and hurt a lot… Let’s just say that, with no real mountains in my regular training routes, the Dutch way to train for The Brutal is to use the wind… The final hours of that ride were perfect wind-training hours, and yes, they did hurt a lot…

Trail-run-triple…

To find some hills in the Netherlands all you have to do is drive down south for two hours… Hills in the ‘Limburg’ area aren’t high, but there are some steep climbs to find (for the cycling fans: it’s the part of the Netherlands where the ‘Amstel Gold Race’ takes place). I’m driving south to run my first ever multi-day race: a three day trail run, starting with a 15km ‘night trail’, then a 25km trail, and finishing with a 37km trail… Since the distances are actually slightly more than advertised, it’s going to be a weekend with about 80km’s and 2000meters of elevation… (50miles/6500feet). The course is hard but beautiful, the atmosphere is relaxt and friendly. It’s pretty much as close to a Brutal event as one can get at a non-Brutal event…

Day 1

The first stage is a small scale 15km run. With just 100 runners, and no time registration, it’s more of a relaxed nice way to start the weekend. Since we run in the dark, all I can see are the headlights from the runners in front of me, and a little piece of the ground where my light is shining at… Lot’s of fun, and although the plan was to go easy, I think I went out a little bit too fast…

Day 2

Day 2 was slightly busier (not all the participants ran multiple stages, you could also do one or two days). After sleeping a short night in a cold tent I knew that the legs were going to be protesting a bit. Especially since the night before I ran the downhills too fast (but it just felt sooo good….). We now start with a descent, and I feel that today might be going to hurt (and it did…). But I ran a beautiful 25km, the course was awesome… Legs were a bit sore, so the hills that I could run up yesterday were now hills that I had to walk… Pushing hard (but hopefully not too hard!) I made it to the finish line, and after a quick drink went back to my campsite for a hot shower and a nap!

Day 3

Day 3 was the hard one… 37km to go, and before the start my body was telling me that this might not have been the best idea… Then again; when coach and me mapped out the season we decided that this race was a good preparation; running while being tired (mentally and physically)…  So got to the start-line, found my place a lot further to the back than I usually do (since I would be slower than usual, but mostly, I didn’t want to be tempted to go out too fast), and off we went…

This was a hard race; the course was hard, the body was tired, and to make it a bit harder the weather was not as optimal as one would hope… It’s the end of april, and the forecast was filled with words like ‘rain’, ‘cold’, ’hail’ and even ‘light snow’… I didn’t really see the snow, but the rest was all there… After two hours my heart-rate didn’t climb out of my relax-mode, but I couldn’t push harder since the legs were too painful, It was completely frustrating, and although the views were amazing, I didn’t really enjoy it anymore… It became a countdown to the last aid-station, from there it would only be 12km!

At the aid-station I met a teammate, who’s very experienced in multi-stage (ultra) racing. Great to see a friendly face, and together with her I ran the final hour or so. Physically exhausted, but mentally I still could push out a bit more power now we’re running together, and cold, wet, tired and happy we made it to the finish line…

It was just one of those perfect training weekends for the Double Brutal in september!

A week later I’m back in the area, now for a few days of bike hill-training. Different conditions (mostly nice and sunny), and I mainly learned that the time-trail bike might not be the right machine for the steep hills (and tricky downhills…). Still trying to figure out what to ride in september…

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