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30 kilometres Personal Best Challenge

What a run, what a run, what a run. A new personal best (PB) on the 30 kilometres and – even more important – I am ready for the Druiven Marathon, two weeks from now.

I know, it’s just a little race, that isn’t important, looking at the big picture of this year. This year is all about the UTMB CCC (Courmayeur – Champex-Lac – Chamonix), but that race is far, far away. The end of August. And – as all runners do, I think – I like to know that I’m on schedule. That all my training is paying off.

RELATED: Chamonix, here we come

Confirmation

The Houffa Trail, last month, was a confirmation. It was my easiest ultra run so far, but after that I got sick. A serious flu, with fever on top. So the Druiven Marathon is going to be a test to see if I’ve recovered from that. And to make it a fun test, I want to beat my 21 year old self.

It means running a marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes, which in turn means running 30 kilometres in 3 hours, 4 minutes and 51 seconds. In other words: 6 minutes and 10 seconds per kilometre. Okay, if I do that, I will be faster than 4:30, but I’m taking into account the stops at the refreshment stations to fill up my soft flasks.

Did I succeed?

So, did I succeed? I’ll tell you in a minute. However, before I do that, I want to look at my week with you. See, this hasn’t been an easy week. Including this 30 kilometres I’ve spent a total of 127 kilometres on my feet, including 4.418 metres of altitude. That’s the most I’ve run so far in a week. It also includes the training of last Tuesday, a 50 kilometres ultra run, with 1.451 metres of altitude. And yesterday’s sprint training.

What I want to say is that my legs didn’t feel rested today. And no, that’s not an excuse because … tam, tam, tam … I made it. I didn’t just beat the 3:04, I even stayed below 3 hours. How cool is that? I didn’t mean to. I didn’t plan to. It just happened. I just felt strong. Well, kind of strong.

Easy running

Six minutes and 10 seconds per kilometre nowadays is kind of slow for me. I like to run a bit faster. But on ultras I know I have to go slow, to keep on running till the end. However, I started out a bit too fast. The first 5 kilometres I ran 1 minute and 29 seconds faster than planned. From that point onwards, I stayed ahead of schedule. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less, as the trail was here and there just mud and some parts more river than road.

So at 10k I was 2:30 ahead and started to feel my legs, after this big training week. Yet, at 15k I was 1:44 faster. I lost a bit of time, not because of my tired legs, but because I had to cross a path that was totally under water. At 20k I was 2:42 ahead. Four kilometres later, I started to do some calculations in my head and started to believe in a time below 3 hours.

Could I stay below 3 hours?

Twenty five kilometres went by in 2:29:39, meaning I was 4:34 ahead of schedule. 18 seconds more and I would be under 3 hours. Eighteen seconds, with 5 kilometres to go, how hard could that be? That’s the moment I speeded up. The result, a new personal best: 2:57:37. More than 7 minutes faster than planned.

Yes, I know, it’s not an amazing time. However, I only started running (again) in the summer of 2021. Plus, my old personal best was 3:10:45, which I ran during the Tessenderlo Nature Marathon. So this time I was 13 minutes faster. And not just that, 87 percent of my run I ran either in heart rate zone one or two. Which simply means, all my training is paying off and I’m ready to beat my 30 years younger self. Let’s bring it on.

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