Ango Celtic Plate

I fell ill with the flu immediately after the London marathon, which perhaps explains my poor performance and breathing problems during that race. Twenty days later, my Belgian friend and fellow ultrarunner Gino Casier came over to England for the 50km event during the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km race in Gravesend, Kent and I decided to register for the long distance. That was a foolish decision given my poor shape at the time. During the first hour of the race, I stayed with Steve Way. Which also foolish, as Steve had just run a 2h16 marathon PB (see previous post). After 50km, I felt pretty miserable already, but nevertheless decided to continue running. Yet again a foolish decision, as I was suffering more and more while getting very badly sunburnt. Meanwhile, Mr. Way managed to stick to his relentless pace and lapped me with increasing frequency. The race was held on the Olympic cycling track, over 48 laps on an undulating course with one particularly nasty little climb of what must have been 20%. On that tough course, Steve ran a mindblowing 6h19'. It was a real privilege to have witnessed this remarkable achievement. Meanwhile, I continued to suffer miserably, and dropped out of the race after 99.999km, a clear case of misplaced pride. My sunburn was so bad that I had to stay in bed with fever for another two days, after which I lost all the skin on my arms, neck, face and back. Ouch!
Steve Way and yours truly on their way to a National Record and a bad sunburn, respectively.
After recovering from that painful experience, I decided to ramp up the mileage in order to get back in shape. During the next month and a half, I ran up to 120-130 miles per week, including a few 40-milers to London. Things weren't improving as much as I had hoped. In fact, the opposite happened, as I felt increasingly fatigued and tired. The upside was that I slept very well during the night! The brutal training regime had two purposes. First, to mentally prepare myself for the Spartathlon in September and second, to get in shape for the Belgian 100km championships at the end of June, which was held during the inaugural "ultramarathon weekend" in Maasmechelen, near the Belgian/Dutch/German border. My fourth race of the year, and yet again I was full of doubts. Right from the start, I got into a small group with 50km runner Frankie Leus and my main 100km rival Wouter Decock, the 30-year old rising star of Belgian ultrarunning. At marathon point, Frankie had to let us go and to keep a long story short, I stayed with Wouter until 70km, at which point I had to abandon my hope of running a sub-7h time. Wouter continued to run strong and finished in a wonderful 6h54', while I suffered badly (albeit not as badly as in Gravesend) for an hour, and then recovered somewhat to finish in third place in 7h20'.

I don't know what's wrong with me, but something's not right this year. I'm writing this report some two weeks after the race, and I'm still not feeling very well. Perhaps I should go and see a doctor. I better figure this out soon, as the Spartathlon is only 11 weeks away and I'm in no shape to run 152 miles in the burning sun. Once a fool, always a fool!

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