Are you’re a Billy Joel fan? Do you know his song “Vienna”? If you don’t, it is worth a listen. Like his other tunes, it sad and it sweet and you’ll feel like you know it complete. It’s about being young and ambitious and learning […]
“I hate running”, a t-shirt boldly stated at kilometer 40.6.
Hysterically I shouted: “Me too!” and almost bumped into a runner who had started walking.
I veered to the left to avoid the weakling walker and realized that I had lost count. Frustrated, I started again: “1”, breathe-in, breathe-out, “2”, breathe-in, breathe-out…
I really hated running.
I also hated the owner of the shirt who happens to be spectating and not plodding along next to me.
I started to hate the race and the sun and the burning feeling in my legs. I loathed the nauseating feeling in my gut and was angry at my irritating running belt. I got rid of the belt at 28 kilometers, along with my precious gels. I regretted giving them up and had worried about a looming wall ever since.
Most of all, I hated myself for thinking I could do this; for thinking I could run marathon significantly faster than I have ever done before. I hated that I needed to count to distract myself from thoughts of stopping.
“24”, breathe-in, breathe-out. “25”, breathe-in, breathe-out…
I rounded the last turn onto the famous Coolsingel finish stretch.
A year before I had finished the ¼ marathon on this same road. I had run hand in hand with a then heavily pregnant friend. She was happy to be completely her last race before labor. I was relieved to be running at all after nursing an Achilles injury that cost me weeks of running and the chance to run my first full marathon.
This year I felt no relief. I looked at the crowds and wished I could feel a glimpse of happiness or pride or joy. I wished I could find something positive in this moment to cherish forever: After all, this would certainly be the last 30 seconds of my last marathon ever.
“26”, breathe-in, breathe-out…
I crossed the finished line of the Rotterdam Marathon feeling exhausted and disappointed.
I had just run a 10:33 min marathon PB on an unusually warm spring day.
Why did I have this overwhelming feeling of defeat?
I had stuck to my pacing plan perfectly. I vowed I would not start walking in the last 10 km (except for the water stations; everyone knows water stations are neutral zones). I didn’t walk. I kept running despite thinking of walking and stopping every step of the way.
Why was I not grateful for what I had achieved?
The truth is I had wanted to run it faster. I mean: Even faster. Naively, I thought I might have a good day and get near four hours. Near four hours?! My actual time of 4:25 hours sounds like a joke compared to four hours.
Why did I feel this way? Did I have impractical goals and unrealistic expectations? Perhaps. Did I set myself up for disappointment from the starting line?
I knew from experience how much a marathon hurt and how long it would take me to complete it, but somehow, I thought that 5 months and slightly more training would magically turn me into Paula Radcliff.
Ok. Stop. Enough whining.
It’s been a month since the marathon and I am still moping about my finish time and dragging my feed to write this post.
Instead of being overly dramatic, let me take a moment to critically examine the unattainable goals that lead to my defeat:
- Run a PB
- Run a negative split
- Don’t walk, especially after 30km
- Finish strong
None of these goals seems overly ambitious for a second marathon and indeed, I mostly achieved them:
- PB: I ran/walk my previous marathon in 04:35:51, so 04:25:17 is an undeniable PB!
- Negative split: My halfway split was 02:12:08, so while I technically ran a positive split, my second half was only 1:01 slower! I’m not going to split any hairs on this, I think that is darn good for a warm day!
- No walking: Technically I walked through the water stations, but to be honest, it would have been hard to run since most of the field was walking at this point.
- Finish strong: Below is the race’s chart of my splits. My turquoise line has a massive incline at the end, showing I ran the last 2km of the marathon faster than any other part of it.
I have achieved my goals. I have no reason to feel that I could or should have run faster on a day that hot. Sure, it was not the best run or experience, but it is also important to be thankful for the things I did achieve.
While still in a moping mood and procrastinating on Instagram this week, I read an inspiring post by @peteruns26.2. He wrote that you only fail when you fail to learn or you don’t change your ways to improve for the next one.
I didn’t fail.
I learned that I have an amazing stubbornness to push through when my body doesn’t want to do anything but stop. I learned that I can have a kick at the end despite feeling like I am dragging myself to the line.
Secretly I have also started improving myself for the next one. I have run 65 km in the last 3 weeks and I am planning on running 36 km this coming week.
After all, I hated running the last 10 km of this marathon. I cannot possibly allow this to be my very last experience of running 42.195 kilometers.
The lead-up While stuffing myself with lemon meringue tart, trifle and pavlova around Christmas, I read Tim Noakes’ Real Meal revolution book and become reconvinced that low-carb eating is the way to go in 2018. The main course My brother has been keen to explore […]
Before we reach February and everyone starts to forget that new year’s resolutions are ‘a thing’, I thought I should hurry up and post a belated 2017 retrospective. Last year has been the most turbulent running year yet. 2017 had fantastic highlights interrupted by […]
I have the privilege of travelling to Basel, Switzerland, to work with a customer at their head office. This is my first time in Switzerland, and I am absolutely loving it.
I spent the first week cooped up in a drab hotel room without any running shoes. The second week, I made sure I check a bag and bring enough running stuff.
I painstakingly planned a 5 km route from the hotel in Binningen. I set out nervously the first morning and immediately encountered 100 m of elevation in the first 3 minutes. Stopping to catch my breath, I had a fantastic view of Basel City.
The route then took a turn away from the city and climbed up a rolling hill through meadows and community gardens.
At the top of the hill, I chose to stray from my pre-planned route and run into the forest. This was a mistake. The forest path turned in the wrong direction, taking me down a busy street and through a neighbourhood that seems to be designed to contain a perfect mix of old Swedish houses and modern glass buildings.
By this time I was spending more time studying google maps than running. When I found the tram line I just followed it to the stop in front of the hotel.
The next evening I decided to take it up a notch by adding 5 km to my previous route. The additional section took me through corn, cow and pumpkin fields and had scores of other runners.
I followed the signs for walking route 483, and luckily had to spend less time looking at google maps.
I didn’t spend any less on my phone, though. The landscape was breathtaking, and I couldn’t help but stop and take photo’s every few meters.
I think tomorrow will be my last run in Basel. While there are so many options; run through the city, around the zoo, climb the hill to the west or run through Germany and France, I’ll probably stick to what I know: Cow fields, meadows and city views.
Have you ever had a surprisingly green run in a big city like this?
Last Saturday I nervously made my debut to multi-sport competition. I took part in the Run-Bike-Run at the Ouderkerkerplas in Amsterdam. This race has a triathlon and a duathlon, and while the triathlon has many participants in different start waves, the run bike […]
Welcome back to the fortnightly instalment of our weekly segment: “Quote of the week”. That’s right: Like with running, pacing blog posts seems to be surprisingly hard. So, let’s talk briefly. About pacing. It feels good pushing yourself too hard from the […]
It’s official. I am making my debut in the world of multisport events.
Since this endeavour is more than a little nerve-racking, I’m starting out with a duathlon instead of the more traditional sprint triathlon. This particular duathlon is a run-bike-run and entails a 5 km run, a 20 km bike (4 x 5km laps) and the another 5km run. This means I have to transition from the bike to run like a normal triathlon, but I also have to transition from running to cycling.
This week I started preparing for the event in earnest, since it only two weeks away. On Friday evening I went to the venue and ran the 5 km running loop. I was ecstatic to do it in 28 minutes, despite taking one wrong turn and running with a flimsy paper map in my hand.
Today I upped my game even more and did my first transition training. Normally I when I’m feeling tri-inspired, I do a brick training: A short run after a cycling workout.
Last week a former Ironman athlete told me that I could also do a training focused only on the transitions. So instead of a difficult workout, I do a short interval on the bike, switch to running, do a short run and switch back again. This way, the focus is on the transition and not on the cycling/running workout.
So my training today was build up as follows:
- 10 km cycle, 1.5 km run
- 10 km cycle, 1.5 km run
- 10 km cycle, 3 km run
As you can see I did a lot of transitions with relatively little mileage. Here is a short list of things I learned about transitioning; most of them embarrassingly obvious:
- This session is best done at home where you can leave your bike in a safe spot while you run. Just do it when you know your neighbours won’t be hanging around in the street, cheering you on as you sprint down the street, only to appear seconds later in the driveway on a bike.
- Your bike should be in the lightest gear before the race. You don’t want to mount outside the transition area and then not be able to make an immediate speedy getaway because of a gear miscalculation.
- Don’t drink too much on the bike or during the transition: You’ll regret it during the run.
- Laces are hard to tie and untie when you’re tired. Since I have to transition into and out of running, I am going to invest in elastic laces and spare myself the frustration (twice).
- On race day, your cycling shoes should be all the way open so you can just slip your feet in after the run and fasten the straps.
- While it was a really good session for the transitions, I would extend the runs to at least 3km next time. This time they were just too short to really feel the fatigue before I had to jump on the bike again.
- Simplify the accessories you need. At first, I put on and removed my cycling gloves, but during the last transitions, I decided it was something I can do without.
This week I’m awaiting my first tri-gear delivery and I’m going to check out the race’s cycling course. Do you have any other advice for a duathlon newbie? Let me know in the comments below!