Category: Races

Race Recap: Marathon Brabant, October 27, 2013

After the origin posts leading up to my race, here is the race recap itself.

We’re talking about more than a year ago, October 27, 2013.

I have trained for this day … a lot, yet I’m very nervous.
This is the first A-race I’ve planned in all my “running career”.

Day before I laid everything out and hung the bike rack to the car so The Girlfriend could pedal from one point to another and see me go :p

Race day … 6:30am
Had a good night of sleep and woke up fairly rested, time for breakfast.
Thinking I needed a breakfast of champions I go for

  • Banana
  • Honey
  • 3 white slices of bread
  • Dark chocolate
  • No milk, but lots of water.

Start of the race was 11:45 but it was a drive of 1h45, so we got going at about 8:30 am to surely be on time.
Drive was fine, I stressed as little as possible in the passenger seat and tried to clear my head.

Once there the nerves hit me. Looking for my bib I saw all these professional runners and got nervous.
I could choose between two corrals: -3:30 and +3:30.
Seeing I aimed for 3:30 I doubted but went for the -3:30 to push myself a little with faster runners.

Fast forward to the start (nothing happened that all of you don’t know: dressing, being nervous, going to the bathroom thrice, …)

Waiting in the first corral I say to myself I should keep running in my first 2 zones as long as possible, preferably until mile 20. Then I could see what’s left in the tank and speed up if necessary for my goal time. (3:30 = 5:00 min/km = 8min/mile)
I think you all know what they say about plans. I stand there, full adrenaline, seeing my heart rate is already at about zone 2 and the gun goes off.

Go go go … don’t go too fast, DON’T go too fast, … 1km: 4:39 HR: 155 (end of zone 2) *grmbl*

Marathon Brabant - Beginning
Nice action pic from somewhere near the start
Marathon Brabant -Slightly downhill
Look at the arrow, it says marathon and points to me =]

So i didn’t take the best of starts. Every damn article talks about this mistake and I knew it, yet I went. 2nd km was too fast as well (4:43) before I got to pace myself.
Most of the following kilometers where at about 5:00 pace so that went well, but my heart rate was definitely too high. I felt it went well, but was afraid for the notorious wall at km 30-35 (~mile 20) or so. But feeling strong (and naive?) I kept going at this pace.

I brought gel and meli cookies with me, both great for carbs. Had one bottle of water with me and 2 waiting at given points with supplies.
Planning on eating one of these every 30min and drinking every km I had a solid nutritional plan, gladly it was one I actually stuck too!

Marathon Brabant - Meli cookie
Mmmm … Cookie

Everything was very solid until about halfway. That was when it got thoughts. Luckily The Girlfriend stood there and pedaled some time along with me. After 3km we sadly met an official saying this was not allowed, so it was plodding off on my own again.

The course was 2 times the same lap which meant I now knew what was coming.

Nice part through the woods lifted my spirits, but not my pace. It got harder and harder to get 5min km, but slicing the remaining distance in pieces helped a lot mentally.

Marathon Brabant - km31
Hydrating at km 31 (~20miles)

Last part of 4miles got really hard, quads started cramping, it was a boring piece with lots of wind and I knew an uphill and bridge part were coming up. I started passing ever lore walking people what was somehow helping but triggered a little voice in ly head as well. A voice that stated all those people were better trained, so if they were walking, surely I could for a bit. And if that meant not getting my goal time there was always another.

I pushed the voice away, clenched my teeth and got to the final part. Could wave to the girlfriend, could pass some walkers, started seeing more people along the way, last piece uphill was coming with the bridge after it and I pushed through, heavy as it was…

Marathon Brabant - km38Uphill
38km and uphill
Marathon Brabant - km38Uphill2
It’s clenching teeth time!
Marathon Brabant - km39 on the bridge
Marathon Brabant – km39 on the bridge

The finish got closer, a nice banner was put up at the last 500m stretch. I wanted to speed up a little for the last part, but the cramp was too close. Just running out was a-okay at this point.

Marathon Brabant - Finish
Marathon Brabant - GooseBumps
Obligatory Garmin shot! (WITH goosebumps)
Marathon Brabant - So Happy
Yup, it’s real, I did it, I’m a marathoner 😀
Finished in 3:29:29 (20131027_MarathonEttenLeur PDF), so barely made my goal time, but I made my goal time 🙂
Heart rate was consistently too high, which accounts for the cramps in the end.
But nutrition and hydration went well, so all in all I was very happy with my debut!

Endomondo & Strava link!

Marathon Brabant - Nailed it
Marathon Brabant – Nailed it
Trail Du Mont Banner

Next Race: Trail Du Mont

10k race behind me, 2015 in front of me.
I’m still contemplating what my goals will be for 2015 (post coming!), but in the meantime I have put a first race down in my schedule: Trail Du Mont

It will be a race off course, but ‘courir pour le plaisir’ (Run For Fun) will be my primary goal there.

It’s a 30k (~19mi) race with 780m ascension to sharpen my trail running skills.

I’m part of an “online running club” who call themselves “Run To The Hills” and about 75% I haven’t even met in real life, but a lot will be attending here, so that’s a very big reason to go running more than an hour drive away from home.

Good thing is that I have something to think about and keep me motivated through the shortest days of the year. Really should like to do at least one run that covers (at least) this distance before going to Mont-St-Aubert @ January 25

Do you have a race planned already in January? Is it a “fun run” or serious business?

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 😉

Pre-Race Jitters

Happy Friday!

Today is Race Day! As you can see in the right sidebar it’s a christmas Run @ Bruges.
I ran this last year and set a PB on the 10k. Jitters are already coming, because I hope to accomplish the same today.
Setting a goal is important for me, but this will be a toughy. The course has a lot of twists and turns, goes over a lot of cobbles and has bottlenecks.

The weather isn’t helping either, strong wind with chance of rain. Chances are that the surface might be slippery.

But hey, I’ll stick to the plan anyway today:

  • No Coffee (or maybe just my morning cup)
  • Healthy food
  • A little extra carbs
  • Enough rest (right … too late for that)

I’m lucky my daughter slept through the night last three days, so now excuse there.

In 12h I’m up, cheer for me 😀

What do you think? Will I break my 39:41 PB on the 10k?


Race Recap: Haventriatlon Zeebrugge (June 1, 2013)

This was my first serious race since I picked up running (full back story in the about section).

This is actually 1/8th of a triathlon organised by The Port of Zeebrugge for marketing reasons.
It was the second edition and this year there was a possibility to take part as a threesome.

I teamed up with Lies and Tom who would take up the swimming and biking part.

As I was training some time by then I was very optimistic to settle a nice PR.
Weather conditions were good, I picked out the right set of gear and was feeling confident.

Adrenaline started kicking in way too early, which had me worrying for some part, but I felt confident it would be gone when my time was there.

You know it or not, but running is the last part of a triathlon. That meant I saw the start of Lies, watch her go, watched her return, transfer the chip to Tom and saw him setting of for a 20k bike ride.

With some time gone, the first bikers began coming back and with each chip transfer from biker to runner all around me, my heartbeat rose.

Luckily, Tom was coming. Pumped up as I was, the chip transfer could have gone waaaay better, but there I went. Fast! Too fast!

The aim was sub 20min, which translates into a 4:00min/km pace.
First kilometer … 3:39
Blink-182 was blasting in my ears, but I knew I had to slow myself or I would collapse before the last km.
Somehow I even managed pacing myself as the second km was 3:56.
Legs still feeling good, breathing could be better, dry mouth very present, heart rate way too high.

Third and fourth kilometer I kept on slowing down and a 4:06 and 4:08 km passed.

So this was it, very quick count gave me a margin of 10 seconds.
I knew there was a very heavy 500m coming (wind up front, no cheers yet to help me) so it all came down to stubbornness!
The crowd begin to grow on the sidelines and I had to start looking for Tom & Lies as we meant to cross the finishing line together.

Once spotted I gave the signal to start running as I felt my last strength started kicking in. A last good sprint. Searching hands. Looking at each other. Me pulling them with me, them already starting to catch me. And like that we crossed the finish line.

Final lap: 4:02

Total 5k time: 19:48

It hadn’t been easy, I would face three days of sore muscles, but I made it: my sub 20min 5k!

So happy 🙂


Kilometers with bib


Playlist was meant to pump me up:

  • Blink-182 – GO
  • Blink-182 – All The Small Things
  • Eminem – Lose Yourself
  • The Opposites – Licht Uit (Coone Remix)
  • Mark With A K – Music Is My Alibi


Christmas run Bruges

Next race will be a 10k run in the nice city of Brugge (Bruges) the 12th of december.
I participated last year in this race and really liked the nice setting. It’s running in an almost medieval setting with Christmas decorations everywhere.

The organization could be better, because there are quite a few narrow streets and the start is just *pang* … EVERYONE STARTS RUNNING.
With a growing popularity and more than 2300 starting for the 10k (there’s a 6k as well), this means bottlenecks all over the course.
Last year I managed to speed up in the start so this didn’t bother me and I even got a PR out of it last year. (More of that in a later post)

This year they will be adding a first wave for the first 150 finishers from last year and being #86 myself this means a more comfortable start.

I hope pinching off a few seconds of my PR set last year and ending (just) below 39:30.
My heart already gets pumping only writing about it. 😉

For those interested, website at (in dutch)

Do you have any races planned in the near future? Tell me!