Februari has been the first month this winter that I didn’t do an open water swim… The last one in januari was so cold that it took me a long time to start to feel alive again, shivering so hard that even drinking hot chocolate was impossible… So the smart move was to move my swim-training back into the pool, focusing on my stroke, so that when the season starts I can work on the longer distances. I’ve got to say: I’m looking forward to it; I’m really a better swimmer on a steady 5km (with wetsuit) than on a 100 meter sprint…
The bike is also mostly left alone. Once a week I ride a 2 to 3 hour easy lap, and go for a spin-class, but that’s pretty much it. I’m glad coach decided to put the long hours on the schedule after the winterseason!
So, running it is… And lots of it. In the rain, in the sun, in the dark, paved roads, trails, slow, fast, just hours and hours and hours every week. I was a bit worried how my body would react, but the legs feel surprisingly good! So it was time for a little “let’s-see-what-my-current-level-is-half-marathon-race” this month…
Last year was all about marathon-running, and I realized during my short warm-up before the race that I raced more marathons than halfs last year, so I got a bit worried… (what if I don’t have the speed? Oh sh*t, this is going to hurt… Why do I want to do this? Let’s just take it easy today…). But when the gun goes I sprint out like it’s a 1500meter race and all the insecurity is gone…
21km to go, and I know from previous years that this small local race lets you run solo over wide open roads, and with a tough winter storm blowing, the plan is to find a group to run with… Going out way too fast with the lead-pack was a bad idea, and after a few kilometers I’m running alone. No-one close in font of me, no-one close behind me, just me, long empty roads, and wind. Lots of wind… The plan is to go ‘by feel’, not checking times or heart-rates all the time, but just run hard an see what happens today… The wind is terrible today, and arriving at the half-way point aid station I see cups of water flying across the road, and a volunteer that clearly has given up on his fight against the wind… I try to focus and find the positive aspect of the storm: living in a country without mountains, this wind is a nice substitute for a hard Brutal-training day (both physically and mentally!).
At 18kilometers I check my watch for the first time, and realize that I’m running way faster than expected. So, now all I have to do is go full power through the last part. I feel great, it’s always hard to explain to a non-runner how it is; I’m suffering, but at the same time I’m flying over these roads… I made it to the finish-line in 1’27, pretty close to my PB. Not a bad day at the office!
There have been no other races this month, just consistently building and building… Loved my first 35km of the year over beautiful trails, but the biggest smile during a run came in the last weekend of februari… Checking my watch after a Sunday morning run, it reads ’44.0km’. When I realized that I just became an ultrarunner my smile quickly disappeared when I thought “ouch… in september I’m now only halfway the run…”
(for those who worry: the smile came back instantly, since this ‘road to the double brutal’ is going perfect, I’m loving almost every second of it!)
Happy training to you all!