Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Once a stupidhead... Running my first 100k (well, 103...)

Once a stupidhead... Running my first 100k (well, 103...)

Race report: Hollenlauf, Germany, 19th May 2012

The Hollenlauf features some of Western Germany’s most scenic landscapes. Fantastic trails and lots (lots!) of demanding up- and downhill running. When I arrived at the starting area on Saturday morning, 5 a.m., I was thrilled to get a more than decent breakfast buffet before the start, something I’d never had before on race day. When the gun went off at 6:30 I knew immediately I was in trouble – everyone shuffled forward instead of racing each other through the streets of the small village. They seem to know what’s on their plate today, I thought. I had no idea what the race would be like, this being my first trail race with that kind of distance.

I have to admit it: the hardest part were the first three hours, because I wasn’t ready for the mental game. The was hardly able to understand the distance I had to cover and it weighed heavily on my mind. Once I had managed to climb up the highest elevation of the course, I was alright and back in the game. Getting a kick out of Boston’s “More than a feeling”, I knew I would finish this thing no matter what. I didn’t even mind the stress that sometimes comes with an out-and-back course, knowing that you have to run everything twice. My wife and son welcomed me at every other aid station, especially at the turnaround point. That was also when I noticed that my left knee would give me some trouble on the way back.

Remembering Coack Ken’s IT-band issues, I forced myself to drink as much as I could, and it actually helped! Today, the day after the race, I can hardly bend my knee, but during the race it was OK. I started to fade after about 60 kilometers but still felt great. I remembered that this kind of fatigue was normal and to be expected in such a race. Things started to become problematic when I took a wrong turn after about 75k. It noticed it after a couple of minutes and ran back to the intersection where I had left the race trail. I was only a few kilometers, but it happened at a time when running became more and more of a struggle. Also, I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for quite a while, having left my waterbottle with my wife at the turnaround point.

I shuffled onward, noticing that I could actually deal with a slow, regular pace. I was sure that it would get me to the finish line, so I decided that I wouldn’t try to run faster even if I could – and it worked. Crossing the finish line after 11:01:28 with my son was a great reward for the struggle.
Jan and son at finish!

What didn’t work: the mental game in the first three hours; getting off the right path by not paying attention the ribbons (I had zoned out and wasn’t even aware that something was wrong); putting on my socks the morning after the race without help

What worked: having my family with me for support and encouragement; drinking a lot and as many different kinds of drinks as I could find; Dropkick Murphys (and Coach Ken) on my playlist; moving forward in a trance-like shuffle during the final hours of the race; running the race in my road racing shoes (it was a little difficult when things got really muddy, but the light weight on my feet worked really well)

Congratulations to Jan on his first 100k!!  I'm glad you were able to fix your ITB issues!!
All Day!

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