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

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 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.

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

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!

Week Recap 222015

I’ve rested last week.
I “only” did 59k (~36 miles) and took some time catching up on sleeping mostly.

My shin pains (mild) and adductor muscle stiffness seem to be gone so I’m ready for an intensive week.
The goal is to insert more stretching in my daily routine and hope this helps for various little aches.

This week I’m aiming at a 100k week again.

Monday: 18k
Tuesday: 2x12k (to and from work with a detour)
Wednesday: 18k
Saturday: 44k

I’m already excited for this last one. Running more than a marathon for training is always a serious task.

Have fun running this week everybody!

Bye April…

Goodbye April, helly May.

April has been kind to me. The weather didn’t really cooperate, but the mileage did go up!
Spring has arrived here for over a month, sadly it doesn’t show, nor by temperature, nor by hours of sunshine and especially not by a nice spring breeze.

April had one good week – weatherwise – which I took with both hands to start commuting by run.
This is the main reason I was able to build up my mileage a lot!

Strava overview April

I managed to get a whopping 306km!
This is more than January+February or February+March (February was not good to me…)

It’s also my 2nd best month ever since I started running March 2013. Only September 2013 does better with 324km.

My goal for 2015 of running 2500km is suddenly a lot more into reach than it was one month ago.

So how was your april month?
Managed to get the desired distance? Did any nice races?

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!

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 😀
    • 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 🙂

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

November closing

So today is the start of the Friday of months, welcome December, welcome holiday month, almost welcome 2015

November was a relatively calm month, because October 27th was my main goal of the year: a 56k trail run (1200hm) (race recap coming once…)

I ended up with a 158km month (~98 miles), only February was worse in terms of distance.

Seeing it was the aftermath of a really good race and the days shortened I don’t really mind.

December will probably be quite similar, with 1 or 2 10k races planned.

So tell me, how was your november?

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 🙂



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