May update…

It’s a weekend filled with good company, camping, talking about past and future adventures, and three days with three races… The campsite is packed with teammates, some who run one day, some two and I run for three days (well, that shouldn’t be a surprise…)
The first day is easy, it’s a small scale night-trail of about 17km, and it’s all about going slow and conserving energy. On day two I run 32km, and it’s getting hot… So things start to hurt a bit, but I’m still having fun! On day three there’s only a marathon to go, with quite some elevation on the course… Luckily my friend Jeroen, who has some fresh legs since he hasn’t been running the previous days, decides to stay with me, and we’re off for a nice long run. A beautiful but hard course follows, and my legs are trying to tell me that it’s been a long weekend… Jeroen speeds away from me at every climb, and I tell him that if he wants, he should run his own race, but he decides to stay with me. Until at a certain point I reach the top of the hill and he’s gone… So now I’m on my own, and I’m fighting my way through the race, hoping to see the final aidstation after every climb… When I finally reach the aidstation Jeroen is there waiting for me, telling me: ‘let’s go, I’ve been waiting forever…’.
So after a quick drink we start the final part of a long weekend.
Most people measure distance in miles or kilometers during a race. I learned that, when things get really hard, I’m measuring in ‘easy laps around the lake’… For people who don’t know the Brutal triathlon course; that’s a not so easy 8km…
Right now, all I can think is: ‘it’s only one lap around the lake from here… No matter how much pain I’m in, I can do that…’

I start picking up the pace, and I’m loving every bit of that final 8km, no matter what my legs are trying to tell me!

A week later I’m back in the area, now with my bike, for a little adventure that most people might call ‘a crazy idea’… A little backstory:

august 2016…
In Llanberis for The Brutal Swim I meet Ella. She introduces me to the term ‘everesting’. Basically you pick one climb, and ride that up and down until you’ve reached 8850meters of elevation (being the Mount Everest…). I think it’s total madness, but the idea is parked somewhere deep in my brain…

november 2016…
I’ve been working with coach Jacomina to plan for the Triple Brutal, and when we’ve scheduled all the big events for the year, I finally dare to talk to her about ‘The Everest’, since I really want to do that one day, but maybe not this year… It’s quite funny to find the right hill in the Netherlands, most hills have to be climbed over 100 times to reach The Everest, which makes the plan even more crazy… But we find just the right hill in the south, and before I know it, it’s on the calendar… Coach did plan it in a weekend where she would also be free, so she would join me in this epic little ride…

present day…
A few minutes after midnight we start climbing the ‘Camerig’, a 4.2km climb, which we would have to do 45 times today… It’s dark and quiet, and although we planned on riding our own pace, we soon decide that it’s pretty nice to ride together as long as it’s dark, and when the sun gets up to find out own pace. Climbing in the dark is beautiful, and although the first descents are a bit tricky, when you know the corners after a while it’s really nice to ride here… After climb number 7 things start to go wrong… I’ve got serious back-problems, so I decide to switch bikes (I’m riding the time-trail bike, but brought my road-bike as well). Unfortunately, that didn’t help too much… So after 10climbs coach continues, and I skip one, to see if a bit of rest and some stretching helps… Then it’s on to climb number 11 and 12, and then it’s time to make the smart decision and not risk serious injury… I stop at the car, and for the next 15hours I’m supporting Coach, who smashed The Everesting Challenge in an amazing steady pace… I was happy to be a part of that!

The back-problems disappeared pretty fast, so it seems that quitting that bike ride was the right thing to do… And although the whole ‘Everesting’ thing wasn’t a big thing, by now it is high on the bucket-list, but I’ll probably wait until next year…

Two weeks later…
It’s time for another ultra-adventure; the plan is to run to Antwerp, which should be 140km. I’m not really nervous about the distance, but I AM nervous about the weather; it will be over 30 degrees today… So that’s why I start at 4AM, and try to get some miles in before it gets too hot, and by the time temperature rises, well, let’s just see what happens… Stijn, who’s always in for a crazy plan, is here to support me today, driving the car, and finding a place to park every 15 or so km to provide food and drinks. When I see him for the first time I’m smiling; he actually made a full aidstation by the side of the road, bringing a small foldable table to put my water bottles on!
I’m running easy, pace is high, heartrate is low, and everything is just fine… Until after only 20km my foot hurts… At first I hope it’s just one of those pains that comes and goes, but this one doesn’t seem to go… By the time I reach Stijn at the 30km point I know that, again, I have to be smart… Never thought I would say this; but today I’m running 110km less than planned… If I’m going to run more than 100km with this pain, there’s definitely going to be consequences… And the goal is simple; finish The Triple in September! So it’s another DNF of an ultra-training…

Two big training-events that didn’t go too well… Rationally I know that it’s not a problem; being smart is part of the ultra-game, and you just have to know which limits to push, and which not to… But mentally it’s a bit of ‘a thing’… I just can’t help it: that little voice has woken up: ‘last year a perfect season ended with a perfect race… And now a not so perfect season… what would that mean…’
I know that it doesn’t make sense; it’s perfectly normal to have some setbacks when you push your limits, but sometimes it’s just pretty hard to deal with that. But I guess that’s also part of the whole adventure!

On a brighter side: all the pains seem to be gone now, swimming is going really well (I’m just loving the longer distances in the open water!), I’m riding stronger than I ever have before, and I’m still (mostly) having fun!

Oh, and it seems that the support-crew for the Triple is complete, and I’m really, really happy with an awesome group of friends who will join me in Wales!

Happy training to you all!

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