Tag: race

Race Recap: Marathon van Brabant October 25, 2015


Sometimes life just goes and goes and suddenly you realize you haven’t written a blog post in almost two months 😮

This will hopefully be the first of many again!

You might know or not know that my first marathon was the ‘Marathon van Brabant‘ two years ago.
I chose this marathon then because it’s a nice calm one, 2 loops in a nice environment on various terrain.
Obviously I ran a PB, but I also managed to run under 3:30, my dream goal back then.

This year, my brother wanted to run his first marathon and was looking for somewhat the same specifications as I was looking for two years ago: nothing too crowdy, nice terrain, not too expensive.
Seeing that I really enjoyed my run in 2013 and knew the supply points were ok and the volunteers were super enthusiastic, I recommended Marathon Van Brabant.
The choices in this period for a marathon are limited here so putting it all together, he decided to run it. I said I wanted to be there when he ran to encourage him, but around three weeks before we just decided it would be more fun if I ran along, which I did ^^

Race Day

The marathon started at 11:45 and we had a 1h40min drive before we got there, so around 9 I stood at Nico’s (my brother) doorstep so we certainly would be on time.
The drive itself was uneventful (carb stocking!) so we got there really on time. Picking up Nico’s bib and registering myself went really smooth, which meant we had about 45minutes to kill.

Hey ho, let's go
Hey ho, let’s go

We strolled to the starting line, where the family run just started. It was great to see all those moms and dads going with their child(ren) through run. We saw some really red faces, adults and children alike, because it was sometimes very clear that mom/dad wanted it more than son/daughter and vice versa and who was trained better than who. But it certainly made for a light mood around the starting line.

After seeing the 5k start, we went back to the changing rooms to make final preparations (toilet!) and headed to our corral of sub 3:30 (there were only 2, where 3:30 was the border).
292 registrations made sure there wasn’t an awful lot of shoving going on at the start, one of the biggest reasons to choose this marathon.

Chipper before the star
Chipper before the start

Once the gun popped we went out and made sure we weren’t going too fast (spoiler: failed) and took in the crowd, scene and weather.
The weather was really good for the time of the year, almost a little too hot. Wind was okay, so it promised to be a nice race.

The aim was going at a 4:50m/km pace (~7:46m/mile) aaaaand we blew it the first kilometers although we were sure we wouldn’t. (4:36-4:33-4:45-4:48-4:41)
Not bad for a 5k, especially in a marathon :-/

Luckily we found our pace after this and managed to run at a fairly consistent pace while putting some time in the bank, which I usually tend to try in the longer distances for when the times get rough. (They usually do).

The first half went really good and we clocked our half marathon 1:39:25, so on cruise speed for the goal:

  • Goal was 3:30
  • Stretch goal was 3:25
  • Dream goal was 3:20

But we all know a marathon only really starts at 30-35km.

In all of his training my brother sometimes had severe cramps, so it was a rational fear that this would happen during the marathon. He took every precaution possible: drank lots and lots of water and sport drinks, ate bananas, dates, … but alas, it was of no avail.

First cramp hit at about 32km, after some stretching he managed to go and run again.
At 36km however we had to make a quick pit stop again and at 41km it really hit.
We had the luck there were 2 children cheering with a chair, so a quick stretch session later we were going for the last piece.

It’s for this that I was happy I tagged along, it’s a lot easier to give a mental boost if you’re running side-by-side. I did my best to keep on motivating and pushing him forward (figuratively off course).

I did my share, but Nico certainly did as well. It’s great to see how good he is at clenching his teeth and keep pushing forward to his goal.

Once we reached the finish line we were both as happy could be with an official time of 3:22:20.

Post Race Thoughts

I’m really happy I did this with my brother, achieving things like this together really tightens our bond!
Further: I started to get in some trouble at about 35k, but with the pauses of the cramps I managed to finish with a more than decent feel.
Which basically means in 2 years time I really evolved as a runner. I shaved 7 min of my marathon time with some gas in the tank left.
So good times coming 😉

Strava & Endomondo stats right here

Full result here: (VolledigeUitslagenMarathonBrabant2015) (only one available places everyone in age groups)

Race Recap: Trail Des Fantômes

Yet another trail run in the pocket!
Last week I went running Trail Des Fantômes with my brother.
We agreed on running this trail and adding some well deserved time off to it.

This meant we arrived at La Roche-En-Ardenne on Saturday, setup the tents with the family, had a first rough night (party at the camping) and woke up looking forward to the race.

The day set out to be better than expected, so I decided to bring along my camelbak, but just to be sure wear a T-shirt rather than a tank top.

At the start my brother was surprised by a local news station with an interview, I just smiled from a distance. After picking up our bibs we browsed the runners-market and waited for the start.

Interview Brother
Interviewed Brother

When the gun went off we tried to get in front of the big pack as we knew the race started with a rather steep climb. These are always easier if you can keep your own pace.

Height profile 31k

The first climb was steep, I instantly felt my calves blowing up, NOT a good sign. First trail I started walking after less than 3km, but looking around me I wasn’t the only one, which was comforting in a way.
I saw my brother swiftly running up the mountain, he sure had a golden start of his first trail!

Starting in the big pack
Starting in the big pack

Up until the first supply point I kept on struggling. I seemed to be too hot and felt rather weak, not a fun feeling only 8 out of 31km into the race.
I decided to eat quite a lot of sugar and salt in the hope it would relift my spirits.
I told my brother he shouldn’t wait for me if I kept struggling like this, but he decided to stick with me.

It actually got somewhat better, although I still felt hot. The tough thing however was that the trailrun did not bring a lot of time to recuperate.
The climbs were steep, but some of the descents were maybe even steeper. Some parts it was sliding down, hoping you could find a tree to grab so you wouldn’t get too much speed.

Despite this fact, it was B-E-A-UTIFUL!
Great nature, great views, great single trails. In total 2 river crossings, running across the rough rocks, climbing up with the help of a chain, stepping over little creeks and seeing a lot of the river ‘Ourthe’ next to you. I enjoyed a lot, a lot!

What a view!

After about 20kms my quads were starting to protest, but that was nothing compared to my brother. He got his first cramp in his calves, which made me pull on his toes so it would go away.
This made it go a lot better for about 5kms before cramping up altogether. Quads, calves, hamstrings, everything seemed to cramp.
The guess wasn’t enough water, but that didn’t help us now.
Luckily he isn’t one to let his head down at such a point and decided to grit his teeth so his first trail would not turn into a first DNF.

The last 5km was at a slower pace, but it got us talking and enjoying the scenery some more. After the last brutal (see the height profile) last climb (+150m in 1k) it was finally some track that made it possible to recuperate.
One last hard descent got us to the last river crossing and we could already hear the commentator at the finish line!

Fun touch, about 150m before the finish we went over a registration point, so the commentator could call everyone by name at the finish.
We heard that we finished 91 & 92 (from 413 people) and frankly … we were pleased with ourselves.

What I learned:
– Don’t pack too heavy when you know there are will be lot of heavy climbs.
– Don’t pack too heavy if there are 3 supply points over 31km.
– Dipping your cap in the river is nice way to cool yourselves.
– If you doubt about clothing before starting a race, take the choice with the least fabric.
– Trail Des Fantômes is a very technical trail, but for now the most beautiful I have run so far.


Race Recap: 6h Of Aalter


A week has already passed, so a recap is long overdue by now!

The race itself took place in the afternoon, which I thought was great, because I could get all the sleep I wanted and do all the food intake I wanted.
So I got up around 7:30 am and started eating some oatmeal, a banana, piece of chocolate and starting drinking water water water.

The food I brought to the race myself.

My brother was going to pick me up at about 10:30 so we could get there early enough, install his stand in time and see the course beforehand.
It went over a track for about 200m, followed by a small but steep uphill, some streets in and out and ended through the building, which was a good find!
This made up for a 2km total, which I hoped to lap about 33 times.

Because of the expected warm weather an extra water/sponges stand was put out at 1km, which meant that water was provided every km, together with my own stand (manned by my brother), this ought to mean that I could be hydrated enough and beat the heat!

The Race – Part 1

The race goal was hitting 66km in 6h.
The way towards this goal was running 11k first hour, 12k 2nd hour, 11k, 12k and then see how I feel with two hours left. In the best of circumstances I would be able to run more than 66km, in worse circumstances I “only” needed 20k in two hours.

From the start my heart rate was up. “Must be the adrenaline”.
Sad thing was, after about 5km it still wasn’t where it should be. Starting around noon (sun high up) and being hot for quite some days (less oxygen) did no good to running conditions, but here I was, so no use to complain about. Just watch the heart rate and keep going!

First hour went fairly uneventful. My brother gave me all the dates I needed and provided me with mental support every lap I did.

Second hour was a “fast hour”, with the heart rate already up, I was somewhat afraid I would go above my threshold. Luckily this wasn’t the case and the hour passed good.
After this I was about to start my last “slow hour” if everything went ok, so I decided to eat a bowl of oatmeal. My biggest fear was hitting the wall, since being out and about this long was new to me. Apparently, this meant my “downfall” as well.
In the first two hours I ate a dozen of dates, some gingerbread, a “melikoek”, some salty nuts and a bowl of oatmeal.

The third hour I drank a lot and ate at a normal rate but my stomach started to acting up.
I don’t know if it was the heat, some dehydration, the nerves, the stress to my body, but my stomach acted up and I decided to switch to mainly drinking for the next “fast hour” of 12k/hour

The Race – Part 2

The first half went really well, with ~34,5km in 3h. I was 0.5km ahead of the pace I wanted and 1.5km ahead of my halfway-goal.
But then I started dropping in pace.

Everything I tried to eat I felt my stomach turning and protesting, big things were not an option at all anymore, so I stuck to sugary drinks and small bites of salty crackers, dates and pieces of gingerbread.

After the fourth hour I seemed to be climbing back from my mental setback and decided to just run it out and see where it took me. 66k was still possible, although it would be pushing myself to the limits.
Legs still felt good, breathing worked, heart rate wasn’t a lot higher compared to the start, but my head started aching and the stomach still was bad.

I couldn’t drink more than I was doing, so the I just had to work with the (minor) headache, but my stomach and the lack of food worried me more.

Halfway the fifth hour, my brother joined in to give me some mental support, this was well needed, as I needed to stop for some time at this point. It was never long, nor was I planning to DNF, but it was rough.
It felt like my body was constantly saying “stop this shenanigans and go rest. Lay in the sun and just relax!”.
But I clenched my teeth and kept going.
Sadly it was clear by now 66km was no longer an option, so I really hoped to get to minimize the damage.

The last 1.5h was clenched teeth, as less thinking as possible, taking my time to drink at the aid stations and just keep going.

For my final laps I decided to skip the aid station and just get out of it wat was possible.
At 6h they blew the whistles and I stranded at a decent 64.6km.
Glad I could stop I threw myself on the grass 🙂


The aftermath

According to my watch I had about 1km extra, which means I didn’t follow the perfect track, but did get me closer to my desired goal.
Officially I stranded at 64.664km.
This lands me at 14th place of the 93 men, 16th of the 107 men+women.
The winner landed 73.102km, which puts my goal-shortage in perspective, seeing this 6h run already had winners of 80km and more.

It feels somewhat strange to not getting my goal, but all in all I’m happy.
There will be other races and everything is the road to the ultimate goal of 100k 😀

One week after the race I still feel tired, but the legs and body feel recuperated.
I did 2x4k last Thursday, which went so-so, that’s when I decided to wait until today for my next run.

Statistics @ 6h Aalter Strava & 6h Aalter Endomondo!


I Signed Up For My 6h Race!

As some of you might have noticed already in the right sidebar, my next race will be 11 July.
It will be a 6h run in Aalter on an official course of 2km measured by the IAU (Internation Association Of Ultrarunners)
Now that my heavy weeks are going well and I am confident (*knocks on wood*) that I will stay without injuries until then, I finally signed up officially.

The course in sky view

I’m heavily training for this as I want to break my distance record (~56k) as my duration record (5:57) on this.

I reckon it will be somewhat mind numbing at some points, but I see it as a big training for my ultimate 100k goal. The mind needs training too.

So wish me luck in the last weeks to stay injury free and I hope to do a nice recap with a massive runner’s high the week after July 11 🙂


Race Recap: 56k Bear Trail (Voeren)

As I’m always up for a new challenge, I decided it was time for an ultra trail run after my 50k road race.

Browsing around my eye fell on ‘The Bear Trail’.
A trailrun which said to be +90% off road with a distance of 56km (~34.7 miles) and 1200m of elevation (~3937 feet).
I finished my 50k race at the end of June and this was up at the end of October, which meant I had a small 4 months to get ready.

My main preparation existed of running on the beach and trying to find some hilly surfaces around my house (which I didn’t…)

Although I didn’t feel fully prepared, I did wake up excited at race day.
Yet again the race was at a +2h drive from home, which I drove solo.
I almost found a partner for the race, but because of an injury in the end I was alone.

It was typical Belgian October weather, slight drizzle and not too warm. Excellent ultra run weather if you ask me, only problem was that the week before it had rained plenty.
The speech before the start was very straightforward: “Do not count on staying clean, after 1mile you will be muddy head to toe”.
They didn’t lie…
When the gun went off I started out at a decent pace, especially since the first .5 mile was around a soccer field and on asphalt, after that we dove straight into the forest and went downhill.
All fun and games until we arrived at the lowest point. Giant puddles of water and mud were waiting for us.

A nice single trail

At first I tried to avoid them, but I gave this up fast. It just wasn’t possible…
The climbs were heavy and instead of being rewarded by a nice downhill speed run, it was sometimes double as heavy going down, because before you knew it, you slided down instead of running.

I think I ended up on my butt about three times during the entire course.
But I had fun. I was warm enough and the sights were magnificent!

Nice sight eh

Running alone for almost 6h can be mentally challenging and I had my share of “why am I doing this again”-thoughts, yet running alone has the advantage you can do it all at your own pace.

After about 60% of the race everyone started walking up the hills and I still managed a slow jog most of the time. Having someone with me at this point would have slowed me down and it’s the long uphills that are mentally toughest for me.

I finished in just under 6h (5:51:43), which is more than nice for an ultratrail debut if you ask me. This meant for a 26th place out of 94.
Bear Trail Voeren – October 27, 2014 – 56k – 05:51:41 – StravaEndomondo – 26/94 (PDF link)
So happy yet again! 😀

Compilation of my run 🙂

Thank you for reading my report! 🙂


Race Recap: Half Marathon Lier

My second half marathon ever and first half marathon as a pacer. As written before, my brother wanted to run a 90min half marathon and asked me to pace him.
Weather conditions weren’t a great help, actually far from it…

Weather Forecast 20150330
Hour by hour forecast Past Sunday

The Half marathon consisted of 2 laps.
With wind from the southwest this meant we would get strong headwind halfway through the lap, make a turn of about 180° and have the wind in our backs.

The route of the half marathon

So after a 1.5 hour drive, a 20min wait and a 15min warm-up we felt ready to start.
With around 500 contestants it wasn’t a “fighting-for-your-spot” situation at the starting line, but after one round at the track we bottlenecked into twists and turns in Lier center, which meant watching out for other runners’ heels etc.
All in all not the best route they could lay out in my opinion, but we made the best off it.

We needed a 4:16min/km pace on average, but with all the turns it was hard to run consistent.
After about 3km we noticed we set out too fast, but with a 4:12 average we surely did not burn ourselves out at the start.

After the city centre came the feared part with head wind.
It was brutal… I tried to catch as much wind as possible, so my brother could keep fresh, but our timing dropped to about 4:30. Luckily it was only 2 kilometers.
After that we made the turn (up a small hill D:) and had the wind in our backs.
Time to breath, fill the longs, take a sip of water, recuperate and make up for lost seconds.
All the way to the half way point the wind didn’t really bother us anymore, so high hopes to finish strong later.

Second lap went the same way. First part “too fast”, but I knew we would need the seconds later on, so it was no luxury.
The windy part was worse than the first time, strong gusts were added and a heavy pouring as well, so I was really glad when we could leave it behind.
Once we had the wind in our backs it was time to recuperate again, but I could see that my brother’s energy was draining.
It was time to get everything out of him that I could get out of him!

The last kilometer he was struggling a lot, so I kept motivating him, because I knew it would be a close call.
Breathing heavily we went over the finish line in 1:30:19 according to official timing.
Our watch said 1:29:58 so my brother was happy. And he happy = me happy.

I had some juice left, which makes me really happy with my current form.
Pacing at “high velocity” isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it was fun!

Me and my brother
Me and my brother
Together over the finish line


Race recap: Trail Du Mont 25-01-2015

For more details about the race itself, see my previous post. In short: the race was 30km (~19mi) with 780m ascension.

I set out to this race with a ‘tough training’ in mind, but I got more than I bargained for…

Muddy underground…

It was muddy and when the mud stopped, there was more mud.
Naah, I’m exaggerating now, but there sure were bits that were really bad as you can see above.

But let me get back a bit. There were more people at the start than an average trail, but there was a solo part (30k) and a duo part (20k) and they both started at the same time.
I felt good at the start, despite the fact that I had one hell of a work-week.

Me at the left, don’t I look well-rested 😉

The start was downhill, so when the gun went off, a lot of speeders set out almost tumbling over each other.
Still convinced I was going for a tough training I let a lot of people pass me and searched my own pace.
After a good 3km (~2mi) we headed in the forest and that’s where the mud started.
At first it was fu, but soon we got out at a single track with still an awful lot of people (solo & duo still together at this point), which meant almost everyone was walking here. I got a bit annoyed because I was here to run, but seeing the steep hills in front of me I got it why the walking had started.

This is one of the less steep, more muddy forest parts…

The forest part was roughly 4km (~2,5 miles) and after that I already had sore quads.
Not sure if it would be as fun as anticipated I saw only nice fields in front of me.
The next 16km (~10 miles) went actually quite uneventful, because I just found a nice pace and kept on going while enjoying the view.

A bit dark, but up at the hills, the view was nice!
Simple and nice!

The last part was the heaviest, because at about 4km (~2.5 mi) before the end we got into the forest again and it was a repetition of the first part.
Steep muddy hills which got you slipping down the path. Luckily there wasn’t so many people as in the first part, so I got to running when I wanted.
The very end was an ascent of about 15% and once up there, it was just running towards the finish.

Time and distance
Average pace and speed

In the end I finished 55th out of 253, so all in all it was a very nice race!

Counting down to the next race

This Sunday I have another race coming up, but as I stated before, this will be ‘a run for fun’.

Saturday I went running 25km (~15mi) and that’s the furthest I’ve run since the end of October.
I really really wanted to do a 30km run before the race next week, but holidays, work regimes, being sick just didn’t make it happen…
The distance won’t be a problem, in combination the hills it could get a bit harder than I’d like.

But it’s together with an “online running group”, a lot of people I haven’t actually met before, so fun will be had, no doubt about that.

Last week I totaled at 60km (~37 mi), this week I will be staying abroad again and I would like to run my route twice and perhaps half of it once.
That would give me a marvelous week, distance wise and would put me back “in the game” of high mileage I hope.

I wish you all a happy run week and may Monday be in your favour 😉

New Race: Trail Des Fantomes – 31km

Filling up my 2015 race calendar bit by bit, I found this race for August: Trail Des Fantomes

There was a choice between several distances: 13km (~8miles) – 20km(~12.5miles) – 31km(~19miles) – 53km(~33miles) – 75km(~46.5miles)

Although one of my 2015 goals is running 2 ultra’s from which there needs to be at least one trail run I went for the middle distance of 31km.
The reason is I’ll run it together with my brother. We will go camping somewhere nearby a couple of days before and run the trail on August 16

He is newer to running than me and is still upping his mileage. He’s training for a half marathon now (which I might pace) and this is 10km extra with a whole different profile.

Ascension & descents during the run

We will ascend roughly 1294m (~4250 ft) during the run, which is entirely new to him, but he thinks it’ll be fun (I know so ;-)) so going at it together will be a day well spent.

It’s still far away, so there will be probably races coming in between, but it sure is one I’m very much looking forward to.

Do you set out your race schedule for the whole year at once or do you add to it during the year?

Avg Pace Christmas Run Bruges

Race Recap: Christmas Run Bruges 2014

Friday was race day – 10k – trying to break my PB.
No use in lingering: I broke my PB of 39:41
Yay me 😀
That’s the short version, longer version following.

I got home from work at about 17:30 and the race was 20:00 and a 20 min drive away. I immediately ate a sandwich and drank about 500ml of water so I would finish digesting when the race started. After eating and getting dressed I drove off towards the parking spot that was about 2km from the start.
Thinking of a nice warm-up, I ran those 2km with my bag. Not very convenient, but all in all not a bad idea getting my warm-up done this way.

Pre Race, all layered up

Getting more nervous by the minute I started looking for the race director, because I needed a sticker. Last year I finished within top 150 which meant I could start in the first corral this year. After running around, dropping off my bag and some more running around I found him, got my sticker and got into the corral at about 19:50.
Which meant 10 minutes of waiting, checking my heart rate, seeing it was way too high and waiting some more.
After the obligatory words the countdown began.


First 2km went by very uneventful, I didn’t even start (way) too fast. Legs felt good, breathing went good, heart rate was climbing towards zone 5 and I didn’t need to bother about zigzagging or watching out for other runner’s heels like last year, hooray for the first corral.

After 4km legs started to get more heavy and I needed to slow down a bit. I was aiming at an avg pace of 3:55m/km (~6:16m/mile) so I had some margin.

First 4km timings

Fifth kilometer still fine, better than the feeling even,Kilometer 6 and 7 I really needed to catch my breath and the times don’t lie about it, I suddenly dropped 10s.

Km 5-7

I knew if I wanted that PB I needed to start pushing through so after a mental scolding I picked up my pace.
What really helped was this guy who just sat on his doorstep, playing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as out of tune as possibly could be. But it helped me a lot. I was thinking “If he takes the time to encourage us, I really shouldn’t let him down“, so thank you Stranger-With-The-Guitar.

Kilometer 9 was mentally though, I knew I was getting towards the end, but all of a sudden the course led us through a small street with no lights. It felt … lonely for some reason. I kept my eyes on the person in front of me and just kept going.

During the last km there was a guy crossing with a cell phone like he had all the time of the world and I had to dodge him. Was kind of disappointed that some could be this asocial :-/

Last Kilometer Timings
The course plotted on the map, not straight at all…

But anyways, final twist of the course and I had still a sprint in me, so I got going, crossed the finish line, looked at my watch, saw 10.06km and 39:12 and knew I broke my PB

Spent post-race
Spent post-race

Euphoric, I wanted to check the official race results, because I was even hoping I broke the 39 min mark because of the spare 60 meters.

This ended up being 39:08, so too bad for those 8s, but this makes a perfect next goal.
Very happy about the race, very happy about the changes to the course, very happy with a new PB and it felt actually invigorating to run a shorter race again.

I ended up being 65/2504 and 46/497 of my age group. (20141213_4eKerstloopBrugge_10k)
Strava link
Endomondo Link


Ow yeah, I got a towel out of all it, hooray

Christmas Run Bruges Gift
Hooray for “free” towels 😉