It is the 28th of September as we drop our bags on the floor of our apartment, after a 12 hour flight and a 30 minute train ride we have arrived home from our holiday in Japan. Pictures needed to be sorted, stories needed to be told, but also, training needed to be started.
Arriving home was also the start of the build-up towards the Bello Gallico trail on the 17th of December, my first 50 miler. For many runners in the (ultra)trailrunning community, this trail isn’t particulary difficult, but for me the 80 kilometers and 565m of elevation gain will be the biggest achievement of the year.
In these blog series I will try to keep a journal of how I am preparing for this adventure, starting with the month of October.
First of all I will start with a disclaimer:
I am not a professional athlete nor I am professional coach or trainer. I have always trained myself by doing what feels ok for me. Therefore my preparation for this 50 miler is not a recipe on how one should train for such an event.
In other words “don’t try this at home” but keep reading.
No this is not the start of a bad joke, it’s the conclusion of a weekend of trailrunning in the Dutch national park Veluwezoom.
Last year my very first trail event I participated in was a 25 km trailrun during the 2015 edition of the Veluwezoomtrail together with Astrid. By pure coincedence we had booked a hotel night after the run in the same hotel in which there was a pasta party for the runners of the 2 day run over 3 stages.
And so as trail runner newbies we joined the pasta party and ended up joining a few of the runners that were running a total of 58 km or 90 km over the two days. In fact we ended up at the table with the runners that were at the top of the rankings after the first two stages.
For some reason the stories appealed to me and the thought of running the full event remained in my head. So when the registration for the 2016 edition opened up I immediately signed up for the 2 day event, 93 km of trailrunning in total.
In March 2016 Astrid and I volunteered at the first edition of the Legends Trail, an experience we thoroughly enjoyed and that made a huge impression on us. Even though it is nearly impossible to explain it I have given it a try in this post about our first volunteering experience at a running event.
Even though my girlfriend Astrid and I have not been participating in running events for that long (out first race was a 10 km at the end of 2014). We did participate in quite a lot of events since then and were always thankful of the volunteers that made these events possible. So naturally the thought of volunteering at a running event had already crossed our mind a few times.
And then we read the call for Legendary Friends from Stef on Facebook…..
And so 2015 has come to an end. Looking back on 2015 there is one clear observation that I can make. 2015 is the year in which running turned from a hobby to an essential part of my life and personality. Running is what brings me freedom, challenges, friends and closer to myself and nature.
At the end of 2014 I had just ran my first 10 km race and would have never expected to be where I am now. I considered myself as just the average runner, going for a run a few times a week just to stay fit.
Now, a year later I can look back on a year in which I discovered a strong passion for trailrunning, fel into a few pitfalls but came out of them stronger and wiser.
At the end of the year I ended up with some numbers that I would have never expected to accumulate in running in a single year:
Even though I am proud of these numbers and achievements, it is the story behind it that really counts for me.
Numbers can only tell part of the story. Each race, each training kilometer, the different running equipment gathered over the year, the videos recorded and the new friends I have met bring their own memories with them.
Looking at what the achievements in running in the past year really mean to me I have tried to highlight a few things in this blog post.
It is already a month ago that I ran my first ultra trail distance, so this post is a bit overdue, but better late than never.
On the 28th of November I completed the final running challenge of this year, the 55 kilometer ultra trail run in Lommel on the border of The Netherlands and Belgium. In fact it totalled up to 57 kilometer but who is counting (of course I am counting, I am very proud of each kilometer).
Since it was my first ultra trail I was unsure of what to expect. I just completed my first marathon 6 weeks before this trailrun and although I recovered from that effort quite quickly, having to go another 13 kilometers beyond that distance and on a trail course seemed at least challenging if not daunting for me.
There it is! The medal that proves that I just finished my first marathon. In an end time that I initially aimed for but never thought that I would be able to run that today 3:29:09.
An amazing experience to run this race. Finishing in the Olympic Stadium with the last 200 m on the track course of the stadium, looking to the sky and crossing that finish line. Contrary to what The Cure state in their song “Boys don’t Cry”, sorry but they sometimes do.
The journey up to this was definitely not an easy one and went quite bumpy to say the least. I did not start this marathon in the shape that I wanted to be in when I signed up for the event on December 31st 2014. In the last months leading up to the event I struggled with weight, form and motivation, but I wanted to run and finish it and nothing except a physical injury would have been able to stop me.
Disclaimer: This post is not about agile, work, coaching or anything related to that, there are no parallels or learnings related to a business context in this post. This post is about me. So if you want to find out a bit more about me keep on reading.
So here I am, a finisher of the marathon distance 42 kilometers and 195 meters of running. A distance of which I have actually said out loud that I would never even try to do that, but somehow I did. In the past days building up to this moment I have been thinking a lot about who I am, where I am and how I came here.