Right, my marathon debut. Got up at 6:45am, drank a cup of ambition and force-fed myself 16 slices of white toast with strawberry jam. A delightful way to start the day. A quick trip to physiotherapist Steven to get my hamstrings taped and then on the road to a very rainy Kasterlee.
Luckily, the weather changed from pouring to drizzling right before the start. And off we were at 10:00am sharp. All 1,250 of us. Some 900 people had signed up for the half marathon, the other 350 people wanted to run two 21.1k laps. I did not know what to expect and so I took it easy during the first kilometers and focused on eating and drinking at every aid station. And urinating. Three times during the first 15k.
To my surprise, the first 20k came and went, including the hills (pictured above) and muddy trails in the woods around Kasterlee. I was able to run consistently around the 11km/h mark (that’s 5:35/k), completing the first of two laps in 1:57:44. I had my eyes set on running a negative split and so 1:57:44 was the time to beat during lap two.
Reality set in during those first kilometers: with the half marathon athletes gone, I ran virtually alone against a nagging head wind. No fun. I was happy see a few athletes in the distance and decided to speed up a little bit around 25k in attempt to reach the woods as quickly as possible. Around 35k, my legs felt very sore and the thought of another energy gel seemed very unappealing but not as daunting as running up the hills, which really hurt. The countdown had really begun and I mustered all the strength I had to squeeze out a final 4:54 kilometer, sprinting across the finish line in 3:57:47.
Here are my 5k splits:
10k 28:45 – 55:57.2
15k 27:33 – 1:23:32.5
20k 27:48 – 1:51:22.3
25k 27:51 – 2:19:15.2
30k 28:48 – 2:48:03.4
35k 29:21 – 3:17:25.4
40k 29:35 – 3:46:48.3
42.2k 10:59.7 – 3:57:47
My second lap was 2 minutes slower than my first lap (21.1k in 1:57:44 versus 21.1k in 1:59:48), but overall, I am really happy with the result. My average speed dipped to 5:41/k during lap two, but I had the feeling of being in control, even though I ran with the elegance of a constipated rhino. I forgot about my hamstring injury somewhere during the first lap.
I’ve trained 3 months for this marathon. 60 training sessions divided over 12 weeks. 4 cycles of 3 weeks: 2 weeks of base training (5 to 6 sessions) followed by a recovery week (4 sessions). I was able to train injury free up until week 10. Training highlights included running in the Schoonselhof cemetery with John Coltrane’s Equinox on my iPod and alongside the river Scheldt in Overmere. A big thank you to coach Kurt, physiotherapist Steven and my old classmate Tom for his advice. And now, in the words of Prof. Dr. Snoop Dogg, it’s back to the lecture at hand.