A bit more than 5 kilometers to go at the Halve Zolen Trail. My legs feel good, as I pass the broom wagon for the 10 kilometers. I look at my watch. Sara’s start of her 10 kilometers was supposed to be more than half an hour later than my start of the 17,5. So she can’t be too far away. Would I be able to catch her? Let’s try.
I’m pretty surprised to be honest about the freshness of my legs. I mean this is my second run of the day. I already ran 11,25 kilometers this morning, before breakfast. Okay, that was a low heart rate training, so I took it easy. But still. It does mean I’ve done almost 25 kilometers and my legs are as new.
I admit, it’s a bit strange to run 11,25 kilometers before running a race. Even for a shake-out run it’s is probably a bit much. However, it’s all part of my training plan. My idea is to run more or less 50 kilometers this weekend, so my body gets used to that distance. In Sussex it has to do 52 in one day, so I think it’s good to run that distance in training at least once, spread out over a weekend.
That weekend is this weekend. To make it more than just a training weekend, Sara and I decided to run the Halve Zolen Trail. It’s a beautiful fundraiser for the Roparun, and at the same time a nice trail. And now, it’s becoming a fun chase as well.
My plan was to push the last part of this race a little bit. I want my legs to be tired tomorrow, when I do my third and final run of this weekend. It’s more a mental thing than a physical thing. I want to teach myself that I can keep on running, even when my mind doesn’t want to run anymore. As Oliver Verhaege, the Flemish ultra runner says: ‘The mind weighs heavier than the legs’.
Chasing Sara makes pushing myself a little game. It’s what I do to get things done. Make a game out of it. A challenge. So far my kilometer times have been just below six minutes. It’s the easy start I wanted. Now it’s changing. Not that I’m flying, but with 5.55, 5.30, 5.36 the kilometers go by faster.
Chasing purple jackets
Every time I see something pink or purple between the trees in the distance, I hope it’s Sara. I know she’s wearing a purple jacket, and I guess she has a pink shirt under it. Yet, no matter how many corners I turn, no matter how many runners I overtake, no Sara.
I speed up more. Kilometer 16 goes in 5.21, kilometer 17 in 5.07. No Sara. I can hear the speaker on the other side of the water. I can see the finish in the distance. A little bit more forest, the bridge over the Mark canal, the local loop on the camping, and I’ll be there.
I speed up again. Racing over a small single track. Passing people by squeezing myself in between trees. Sara has to be there. She can’t be far. 700 meters, 600 meters, 500 meters. I’m running 4.37 per kilometer now. That’s just above my 5 kilometer pace, but here I’m doing almost 18, after 11 this morning.
One more corner
I race by the spectators alongside the track. One more corner. I high five the donkey mascot. 200 meters now. 100 meters. Where is Sara? One more person is in front of me, but it’s not here. Did I pass her? Did she step out?
And then, then I see her. With 10 meters to go. Her back turned towards me. Her phone high in the air. Taking a selfie, behind the finish line. She’s in, I failed.
With a big smile I step behind here in her shot. Breathing fast. She turns, smiles, and shows me her watch: one hour, eight minutes and 55 seconds. Her fastest 10 kilometers ever. She ran more than half a minute per kilometer faster than normal. No wonder I couldn’t catch her. She’s really becoming Super Sara.