100km Deventer (NL)

Last week I drove to a meeting in Aylesbury by car and got stuck in traffic for an hour. Last Saturday, when I had to travel to Deventer in Holland for the 8th Centennial 100k track race, I didn't want to risk missing my flight by getting stuck in traffic again and so I decided to ride to Luton airport by pushbike, which worked great :-) After the race, however, my train from Deventer to Amsterdam was delayed by half an hour because of signalling problems, and my flight back to Luton was delayed by nearly four hours due to mechanical problems. Motorised transportation sucks!

Anyway, let's talk about running. I went to Deventer for three reasons. First, there are virtually no 100k road races in the UK, which is a real shame. Second, I couldn't run the 100k race in Winschoten in September because I had to work that weekend. Third, I enjoyed the 40 mile track race in Barry earlier this year, and thought that the track could be the right place to knock a few minutes off my 100k PB. To my great relief, the weather was fine on race day, although it had rained a lot the night before, making the track soaking wet and giving me pretty bad blisters. There were just 21 runners at the start, 11 of whom had registered for the 50k race. That suited me fine because overtaking other runners hundreds of times on a 400m track only adds to the distance.

Being the only one attempting a fast time, I had to set the pace all by myself. Which proved to be a problem, as I found it much tougher to maintain a 4'/km pace in Deventer than I did in Barry and Belves, where I faced some more serious competition. I came through half way in 3h21' feeling fine, but then lost the plot between 60 and 80km. I don't know exactly how it happened, but I couldn't think clearly any more and somehow didn't manage to calculate my lap times. I thought I was still running at a decent pace because I kept passing the slower runners very frequently. Looking at my lap times now (see Dutch version of this blog), I had actually slowed down much more than I realised, to a pace of barely 12km/h. Suddenly I saw that I had only 63' left to cover the last 15k and achieve a sub-7h finish time, which was the minimum requirement I had set for this race. A jolt of adrenalin went through my body and I picked up the pace again. My legs were feeling fine and I had plenty of energy, having refuelled with gels at regular intervals (NB: what a joy to run without feeling sick!). The spectators began to cheer me on more loudly, and I actually started enjoying the race again. I finished the last 10km in 39 minutes to finish in 6h58', two and a half hours ahead of the second place finisher.

Conclusion 1: legs are superior to engines. Conclusion 2: it ain't easy to race alone. I'm taking a short break from running to please my Mrs. and will return in the spring. 2013 has been a pretty good year. I'm glad to be injury free again and am looking forward to next year!

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