Terheijden Long Course Weekend…

As far as small-scale events go, this one is as small as it gets… Only 12 athletes showed up for the first edition of the Terheijden Long Course Weekend: swim 3.8km on friday, bike 180km on saturday and run a marathon on sunday, sounds like fun!

After being brought to the swim-start by a local farmer it’s time to get into the choppy water. The first 3km we have to battle the waves and the wind, and with so few swimmers in the water it’s a solo challenge. I’m working hard, and after what seems to take forever I get to the only turn on the course: after 3km I turn right for the final 800meters, finally a bit more shielded from the wind. When I exit the water I look at my watch and am pleasantly surprised: a 1’07 swim is a new personal best time! Now time to get some food and rest before tomorrows ‘race’….

on our way to the start…

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new, scary, and very, very mega-ultratriathlon plans for 2019…

After taking an ‘easy’ year in 2018, it’s time to focus on a new, big, long, and scary ultra-triathlon goal in 2019… For those who are impatient, click here to go straight to the end of this post to find out about the plan, for those who want the full story, keep reading…

update:

the ‘very mega-ultratriathlon plan’ is delayed: the swissultra doesn’t host a ‘continuous deca’ in 2019, so I’m hoping to do this race in 2020! For now the main focus for 2019 seems to be ‘just’ a Double-iron triathlon

the Big Brutal Swim
August 2015, Llanberis, North-Wales

This is where it all started… I was out in Wales to do the 10km Big Brutal Swim, and to check out the run course of the Brutal Triathlon, basically to see if I dared to do the Double Brutal in 2016. The day before the Swim I did a bit of running, ending in ‘an easy lap around the lake’ (only partially true; it ís around the lake, but it’s definitely not easy…), and at the end of the run I met Brutal race-director (and ultra-athlete) Claire. We talked about The Brutal, and about some other adventures, but when she told me what she was training for I was really impressed… Continue reading “new, scary, and very, very mega-ultratriathlon plans for 2019…”

Thor Beach Triathlon – You against nature

Thorsminde, Denmark – august 4th – 5.59AM

I’m on a beach, staring at the ocean, where every wave seems to be bigger than the last one. The sound of the waves hitting the shore is interrupted by a man with a microphone, saying a lot of stuff in Danish that I don’t understand, and then, at 6AM, the people around me start running into the water, and I do what everyone would normally do in a situation like this: I start running as well… This is the ‘Thor Beach Triathlon’, advertised as ‘Denmark toughest triathlon’, so this might just be a fun day!

The plan seemed so simple: next week Coach and me swim the 21km vidosternsimmet in Sweden, so a nice half-iron distance triathlon somewhere on route would seem like a nice way to start the nordic vacation… After a bit of searching I found the ‘Thor’, and in full ‘Forrest-Gump-box-of-chocolates-never-know-what-you’re-going-to-get’ mode we signed up.

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the Triple Brutal Extreme Triathlon…

“…all that it takes… is all that you’ve got…”

It’s just a small line on the Brutalevents website, on some of the Brutal t-shirts and on the banners at the Brutal events, but I never really thought about it… This time it’s different… At the end of The Triple I knew it: “all that it took was all that I’d got… and then some more…”

Don’t expect this story to be about a fast race, or even about a race at all, The Triple was more an expedition than a race for me, it was slow, it was long, and although it was physically not as bad as I expected, mentally and emotionally I had to dig deeper than I could have ever imagined…

This is a long race-report… And I’m not going to apologise for it, or write a shorter version. It’s been an epic adventure, and it deserves the full story…

The Triple Brutal Extreme Triathlon
– 12km swim – 560km bike – 126km run –
(how hard can it be?)

After the Double-Brutal last year it somehow seemed like a good idea to go for the triple… So after a year of hard work it’s time to get back to Llanberis! This time there’s a huge Team joining me: my big brother Daan is racing the Half-Brutal, Nick is doing the Full-Brutal, Jacomina doing the Double-Brutal, and then there’s the support-crew, known as TeamNL: Annick, Inge, Linda, Maike, Ron, Stijn, Tamara, Tanja and Thijs, and Mark as the non-Dutch member of TeamNL (and later, unplanned, Jim on the lake-lap). So a nice holiday in Wales with a good group of people, sounds like fun!

a big part of #teamNL (without Inge, who wasn’t at the friday-racebriefing…)

Llyn Padarn, saturday september 16th 2017, 7.27AM

All the half and full-Brutal swimmers are waiting in the cold water of Llyn Padarn, but most of the double and triple athletes are still on the shore when the start signal sounds. No need to waste precious energy by being in the water any longer than necessary! I go in, and quickly find my rhythm. Slow and steady, and I get used to the temperature; it’s cold, but not too cold, and I feel pretty relaxed… The views from the lake are amazing; the sunrise over the mountains, the clouds above the lake, and, especially when the half-and full athletes are out of the water, the lonely swimmers and kayakers in the distance…

a nice and relaxed atmosphere before the start…

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the TripleBrutal in numbers…

The body and mind are still recovering, and a long race-report will follow, but for now: here’s some data of what goes on during a triple-irondistance triathlon on a hard course… With a big thank you to the most awesome support-crew, who took care of me, and still found time to write down some statistics during the race…

The Triple Brutal Extreme Triathlon in numbers:
  • 12.540 meters of swimming (equals 502 lengths in a 25m pool)
  • 561.870 meters of cycling
  • 124.020 meters of running (equals almost 3 marathons, or 310 laps on the track)
  • total time: 66 hours 33 minutes 16 seconds Continue reading “the TripleBrutal in numbers…”

August update…

sometimes your memory can play tricks on you…

It’s a sunny day on the bike, and I’m riding on the Brutal course. Somewhere during the terrible climb to Waunfawr I know the climb has to end after the next corner; I know from last year that it’s slightly longer than you would think, but this time, after that next corner, someone decided to move the little village even further uphill! I forgot; the climb isn’t ‘slightly’ longer, but it’s ‘a lot’ longer (and steeper!) than you would think, even if you know the course!

The Big Brutal Swim is always a good excuse to come to Wales and do some training, and enjoy the pre-Brutal nerves. A week of swimming, cycling and running around Snowdon it is, with all the variations in the weather that you can expect; it’s been cold, rainy and stormy, but also nice and sunny… Continue reading “August update…”

June update…

…a 1/6th triple…

I’m in the water at the start of a small-scale middle-distance triathlon. The speaker announces that the start signal will be a gunshot, and seconds later we hear a horn. A lot of swimmers decide that a horn and a gun sound alike, and they’re of, while most of us stay behind confused; will the marshals find a way to send the early starters back to the start, or will this now be the new ‘official’ start? After a few nervous moments all swimmers get lined up again, and we’re off for the actual start of the race…
Today the plan is simple: take it easy… It’s going to be a hot day, and I’m telling myself: ‘it’s not a race, it’s a training-day…’ So I swim as relaxed as I can, and I’m actually not too happy to be at the swim-exit after 2,5km. I am really having too much fun, and want to swim a bit further… And being as relaxed as I am, I’m actually swimming faster than expected! So this is going to be a good day…
On the bike I’m also just enjoying myself, trying not to make a race out of it. I just accept it when people overtake me, and I just ride at my own easy pace. During lap number 3 (of 4) I realise that I’m taking it a bit too easy, but I’m not really bothered by it… Continue reading “June update…”

Scary moments…

What’s the scariest moment in the whole process of racing long distances? Is it when you realise that it’s only one week until the start of a race? Picking up the race number? Or when you enter the cold water of a 10km swim, and you know that now there’s really no turning back? Or is it months before that; when you fill out a registration-form, and then finally have the guts to press that final ‘enter’ button?

I remember those key moments: signing up for my first half ironman, my first marathon, and my first longdistance triathlon. At the first two I was pretty stressed, but really excited that I registered, at Challenge Roth I was mainly surprised that I got in (Roth sells out in record time, so it’s about typing fast, and being very lucky…).

Last year I signed up for The Double Brutal Extreme Triathlon (read my full race-report here) and although I already decided to do that race months before I registered, this was still a big moment… Sitting at home with my laptop, I had just committed to something that was seriously big… This was going to consume my life for the next months, and even then; I would still not know if I would even make it to the finish-line (I didn’t even know if I would make it to the start… Since it was going to be a hard year of training, so you never know how the body and mind respond to that!). Since I already knew for a while that I would do this race, you would think filling out the paperwork is just a formality. Not so… Now it was official, so this was one of those HUGE moments in preparation… And signing up for The Double Brutal was definitely one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life… Not much would ever top that!

Well… I’ve just done something far worse…

Triple Brutal registration is completed… See you in September…

the Double Brutal Extreme Triathlon – race report

Normally, a story about an extremely hard race ends with thanking the Support Crew involved. Unfortunately, most people skip those last lines of a race report, so this time, let’s start with The Crew… Let’s just say I could never, ever, ever have finished without the most awesome team I can imagine; both in Wales (Eline, Ido, Maike, Robert and Stijn) and back home (too many names to mention, but all those involved in my year of hard work, you all know who you are!). Seriously; racing an extreme race is a team sport, and although I’m the one who crossed the finish-line, in the end, it’s a huge team that made it to the finish!

So, back to the beginning… Although I might mention The Team again somewhere later…

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June update

night riding…

I smile when I exit my street. It’s 2.30AM, and I just decided to add a small extra lap to my bike-training, just to make sure I reach the seven hours that were planned for today (well, for tonight, since it’s been about riding in the dark and dealing with tiredness on the bike…). The legs feel better than they ever felt after a long ride, and mentally I feel strong; I just did a hard and long session, mostly in the dark; it was one of those moments when you realise what you’re training for…

Finally, after 220 kilometers, I get home. Happy, and knowing I’ve got the same session planned two days later, I try and get some sleep, hoping that I can forget that tomorrow morning there is a hard interval running set planned… (sometimes I think that my Coach must really hate me…). Continue reading “June update”