Tag: ultra running


Race Recap: 50k Maasmechelen – My First Ultra

A while ago I talked about my decision to my step to ultra.

After some nice months of training, I felt ready for my race.
Seeing it was the first ultra I was going to undertake, it was a plunge in the deep.
Therefore I set out with a goal with a big margin.
I was happy to finish under 5h and hoped to get in the 4:30 region.

Race day conditions seemed good and after waking up, a carb loaded breakfast and a 2h drive I arrived at the scene.
The race was part of an ultra weekend. Together with the 50k, there was a 6h run, 12h run, 24h run and a 100k run, so the scene was buzzing with excitement and a lot of fit people were walking around.
Somewhat nervous I got to the start after having some last water and a toilet break.

The race consisted of 4 laps, all on solid and flat ground, basically the biggest reason I had chosen this race.
100k and 50k started simultaneously, but our race got a head start of about 500m so the pack was thinned out.

There were 3 food/drink stations over the course of one lap, which meant I would mainly rely on what was provided.
I had left a camelbak with water, gels, dades and bananas with my girlfriend who would stay with our 3month old at the cafeteria at the start/finish in case of “emergency”, but I hoped I would not need it.
I also had left a bag with sugar water, a banana and a bar of dark chocolate at the 2 stations during the lap for backup.
This way I felt fairly confident I would not have hydration nor food depletion issues and that my stomach would hold up.

When the gun went off, I went out too fast, which by now is just normal. First lap: 5:17… Bear in mind I was aiming for 6minute laps and hoping for 5:24 laps (per km mind you, not per mile ;-))
Although I went off way too fast, a lot of people passed me. Second km I managed to pace myself (5:31) and not look at all the speeders.

After 4km I found my own pace and got into a small pack of runners.
First lap went very well and ended after about 1:07:00, which meant an obliterating success.
I still felt strong and decided to keep on running this same pace.

Second lap went just about the same way and just like that I was halfway my ultra.
Weather was good running-wise: overcast with sometimes just the slightest drizzle and a nice 17Β°C and I was having fun. So off to the second half.

My heart rate slowly started rising, so I knew my body was starting to feel tired. I made sure I stopped for the necessary time to eat and drink enough at the stations.
Constantly cramming a lot of sugar in my mouth really helped my legs. At the last station during my third lap I decided to drink some Coke and I don’t know if this was the trigger or it was just generally tiredness, but … there were the gut cramps πŸ™
I had passed the start/finish point about 10minutes ago and knew there wasn’t any toilet available until the near end. I would be unable to make it like this, so went behind a tree.
First time ever this was necessary, thank god for the tip of always taking toilet paper.
Plus side: it helped me a lot. I felt relieved and strong for the last part.

Last 15k I decided to try to step it up a bit and km 42 actually was my fastest one! (4:48)
So in all honesty I can say the last part was just fun as I could still push myself and just like that I ran my 2nd marathon time in 3:39 and my (official) end chrono was 04:23:00.

First ultra: CHECK
Ended it in a hoped time: DOUBLE CHECK
Not walking like a disabled person week after: Not so check πŸ˜‰ – Quads were sore after, but it was manageable.

Thank you for reading my report πŸ˜€

My Step To Ultra

As you might have read on my blog here before I’ve run a marathon in October 2013. (Posts here, here and here, race recap here).
Seeing that the marathon is a mighty big goal, I lacked motivation once finished to continue running for a while.
I still enjoyed it, it helped me relax etc, but feeling that I had nothing to achieve gnawed at me apparently.
This went on for about four months and then I got invited to join a noncompetition trail run at half an hour drive away.
I went there with a couple of friends whom I never met before in real life, but chatted a lot online.

The run was 25km (~15.5 miles) with some nice hills and about 85% off-road. Nothing too hard, but much more enjoyable than constant asphalt.
We went out at about 5:30min/km and roughly continued at this pace the entire run.
Coming towards the finish I still felt very strong and had the feeling I was able to add a lot more distance if it were necessary.
The day after I wasn’t too sore, nothing worse than a tough interval day.

It than came to me that ultra maybe was possible.
If 25km went this easy, I felt obligated to myself to give it a shot.

We’re talking March-April 2014 here and after some looking around on the Internet I found a nice and easy 50k run at Maasmechelen at the end of June.
It consisted of 4 laps and knowing my daughter was coming (turned out to be April 15), I thought this the best for my girlfriend. This way she could come along and see me a couple of times passing without having to drive around herself.

So this meant I needed to start training.
For my marathon I hadn’t really followed a strict training plan, so I figured I wouldn’t look for one now either.

I focused on upping my mileage steadily with some stabilization now and then. Once again, being a ‘new dad’ meant I had to compromise towards my running (with pleasure off course :-), so I only had the time for 2 runs in the week and one long run in the weekend.
In the end I started with:

  • 1 run in my Zone 1 (Heart rate zones, see here…) for 70 minutes
  • 1 run in my Zone 2 for 70 minutes
  • Long run of 22km

And decided to go with:

  • 1 week adding 5 minutes to my Z1/Z2 runs
  • 5k adding (first time 3 to come at a proper distance) to my long run
  • Running the same as the week before

Rinse and repeat…

I had 12 weeks to go and managed to follow it quite strictly

50k schema
My schema

Ending with a 40k run, which was 80% of the distance made me feel confident about the race to come.

Race report coming in a later post, hope you enjoyed πŸ™‚


Slowly Saying Goodbye To 2014

December 20 2014
Only 11 days and we can start cursing again when we write down the date (oh right 2015 *grmbl*)

2014 wasn’t too shabby. Not running wise nor personal.

Quick personal recap: I became a dad for the first time! She’s already eight months now and boy does it go fast!

Running wise:

  • Tracked 2274km to date (~1413 miles)
    I guess if all goes well I could add another 50 or so in those 11 days but we’ll see
  • Bought 2 pair of new shoes
    • Pearl Izumi: a brand I had never heard of and will continue buying
    • Scott: a trail shoe that fits like a glove
  • Ran 6 races which means an average of one every 2 months, way better than expected
    • A very low-key trail of 25k that wasn’t a real race (no bibs, no timing) but helped me convince I was ready for longer distances & trails
    • A 5k race where I PB’d below 19 minutes
    • A 50k which went waay better than I had hoped for – 7 min below my aimed time and relatively fresh (see my PB page for exact timings btw)
    • A marathon in one of the nicest settings there are ‘In Flanders Fields’ at Ypres, great way to start the remembrance of WW1. Did this one as a pacer and ended just above 4h. Was very happy with the recovery afterwards etc
    • A 56k trail with 1200m of ascension (~3937feet).
      This was my ultimate goal of 2014.
      I suffered, but in a good way and finished just below 6h.
      Distance record, duration record, busted quads record πŸ˜€
    • 10k run where I broke my PB. Sadly not below 39 minutes, but since short distances weren’t my focus this year, I’m happy that I PB’d!

2015 goals post coming later, just give me some time to look back at this post with a content smile πŸ™‚

I’d love to read about your year, be sure to link me up in the comments!