Last weekend I participated in the Indian Summer Ultra a potty run in the forests of Drenthe. But then long runs, 50 kilometers. If you had told me a few years ago that I would do this I would have called you crazy. Endurance sports were not my thing then. Too boring, too exhausting. At the endurance runs during soccer practice, I invariably ran in the back with a grumpy face.
At the start, the atmosphere is fairly relaxed. Unlike atmosphere in the marathon starting area where many runners are hopping on their fancy renpattas with carbon plates looking for a PR. After the starting gun, we begin the long route along the forest trails. In the beginning still in a large group. But soon the runners spread out along the route and you are on your own slogging against the miles. This sometimes feels like a lone ant in the forest trying to follow the endless path of the colony. Also a pleasant humility to feel so small in nature. Daily stresses about work and home are very far away for a moment, you are alone with your breathing and the sound of your steps on the forest floor.
The first thirty kilometers go pretty smoothly. I walk with my friend at a leisurely pace where we can occasionally chat. Around the thirty-five kilometer mark, we have to go along a path where it is muddy and a tendon in my knee starts to protest loudly. The aches and pains resulting from the Almere triathlon a month ago have not completely disappeared. At a leisurely pace, we just manage to keep running. Thoughts of getting out raise their head. Will this be a first DNF? Stopping occasionally and massaging the knee manages to keep going. Around every thirty-five kilometers there is a refreshment station where fresh pancakes are actually baked, good for morale.
The last eight kilometers get equally tough, now we are over the marathon distance and the kilometers count double. My knee is getting stiffer and stiffer. My friend walks the last stretch ahead. My ego has a hard time with that. I hope she doesn’t read this, because she also wants to run the 100-kilometer distance. As dusk begins to fall I cross the finish line, still fairly fresh except for my left knee. All in all, the distance was not too bad; running a marathon at a high pace is tougher because you are fighting the clock every mile. A beautiful event where the main thing is to enjoy running in nature. On to the next challenge to set a goal.
- If you walk at a leisurely pace you can walk much farther than you think, even with a rickety knee
- Forgoing in nature is twice as fun as on a boring asphalt road
- Running for a long time provides super compensation, not only for your body but also for your energy level
- Running with laid-back types on trail runs is more sociable than with overachievers at the marathon