Night of Flanders 2010

Lady Luck hasn't been kind to me lately. I haven't been able to cash in on the great shape I've been in all year. I fell ill a few days before the world 24h championships, and got injured three weeks before the Belgian 100k championships. Probably trained a bit too much. On May 30, I went out for my usual Sunday run with my friend Mark (a 2:28 marathoner). We always push each other quite hard, easily completing my 2h loop 10 minutes faster than usual. On that Sunday, we set a new course record: 1h43', and I didn't even feel tired. But soon after arriving home, I felt a sharp pain on the outside of my left shin. The next day, I could hardly walk. Turns out I had an inflammation of my tibialis anterior. A common injury caused by overtraining, which takes up to three weeks of recovery time. Bye bye Belgian championship.

But after a week of rest and a visit to the doctor (in Belgium, because the NHS couldn't and wouldn't help me), I started to feel better. So I decided to enter the race anyway. Starting at a 4'/km pace, I soon had to slow down in order not to strain my shin. The first 60km were stressful and unpleasant. At that point, fellow race leaders Nid Rumphakwaen and Jaroslaw Janicki broke away from me and I immediately felt more relaxed. At 80km, I was almost 5 minutes behind Rumphakwaen, meaning that I had to run almost a full kilometre per hour faster than him in order to retain my Belgian title. The next 10km were the best of my race. I picked up the pace to a healthy 15km/h, stopped worrying about the injury, and quickly cut down Rumphakwaen's lead. After 92km, he was forced to walk, allowing me to pass him and slow down again. I felt surprisingly fresh when crossing the finish line.

Despite the relatively poor time of 7:22', I am still quite happy with my performance. Moreover, this was undoubtedly the most exciting and therefore also the most rewarding of my three consecutive Belgian 100km titles. Jaroslaw Janicki finished 12 minutes ahead of me and I am very grateful for that, because otherwise I would have been the slowest winner of the Night of Flanders in its 31-year history. And that's the kind of record I would rather not have associated with my name.

Video 20-06-2010 (~4Mb, in Dutch)

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