Maybe you have to be a runner, to understand that amazing feeling you can have after a run. Today is one of those days. My legs are kind of tired, yet, I want to jump upside down. Jumping from joy. That’s how happy I am with my run at the Rovertsche Leij Trail.
Today I promised myself to just run. I know this might sound a bit weird. What else do you do, when you go for a trail run? The answer; hold back. Go easy. That’s what I’ve been doing so far during my races.
I am still in the build up. Working on getting a bigger engine. Or maybe better said: improving my endurance. To improve your endurance you have to run slow. Easy pace. As I told you yesterday, there is a difference between an easy pace and a nice pace. An easy pace doesn’t always feel nice. At the same time, a nice pace isn’t always easy. I hope you’re still following.
Today I wanted to run without the brakes on. Just go. Do what my legs would tell me to do. Okay, maybe not letting my heart rate go up into the 180 beats per minute, but certainly not forcing myself to keep it under 150. So, I just went for it.
It felt great to just run. First of all, the organisation was perfect. In this case meaning that we were starting in little groups, which meant I had enough space for my long legs, and there was room for all of us to run on the trails. Sometimes the start of the race becomes a traffic jam.
That could easily have happened today, because the start was a hard one. We had to run through a field of just cut grass. Now, grass is nice to run on. Cut, wet grass as well, but just cut, dry grass not. It’s slippery. And it doesn’t give you an indication of what is under it either.
Breaking my p.r.
Luckily within a kilometer we were out of the field and onto the small paths I like so much, interspersed with bigger, wider paths. Most of them were flat, so halfway at the refreshment post, I sent Sara a message that I was going to break my personal record of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 3 seconds on the half marathon.
I know, it’s a bold thing to do on a trail, because you never know what is ahead of you. A lesson I learned again today. Yet, except for kilometer 3 – the one in the freshly cut field of grass – every kilometer I ran was below the 6 minutes per kilometer. To break my personal record, a kilometer time of 6 minutes and 7 seconds was good enough.
Fast second half
On top of those good kilometer times, halfway it was looking I could run even below 2 hours and 5 minutes. But halfway is only halfway. In my case it’s a good thing, because I generally run a faster second half of the race.
Today was no different, with kilometer 17 and 18 even being my fastest of the day. And then, it happened. The organisation had left the best part for last; a mountain bike track. After 18 flat kilometers, suddenly we were running up and down little hills, turning sharp corners, ditching branches and jumping over big three roots.
Well, that was the idea, because one I didn’t jump over, but tripped over, landing flat on my face. But I didn’t have time to sulk. I was on a mission. A big mission, because at this time in the race even a time below 2 hours looked possible.
The last couple of kilometers I was just doing calculations in my head. If I am running 5.24 per kilometer and I have 1100 meters to go, will I make it? And what if I can still run a low 5? I don’t know if it was the sun, my tired legs or doing mathematics, but I couldn’t figure out what was the best pace. And I didn’t need to. The only thing I had to do was give it all.
So I did. Running kilometer 21 in 4.55. The only kilometer of the day below five minutes. Finishing my half marathon in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 46 seconds.
The only problem; kilometer 21 wasn’t where the finish line was. That was 500 meters further on. 500 meters I ran with a big smile on my face, because it feels so good not to run at an easy pace, but at a nice one.