After weeks of training (ahum) last Saturday it was finally time. My first real running race (not counting the 4 mile of Groningen), the Veluweloop. The race consisted of 12 stages which in total covered 87 kilometers. Each runner from our team had to run one stage. The distances varied from 4.4 to 11.2 kilometers and four of the stages were woman only. I started at 12:40 PM in the fifth stage from Vredenburg (Arnhem) to Beerenberg. The second longest distance of 9.1 kilometer. Last Tuesday I practiced it by running home from work, but Saturday it was finally time... 9.1 kilometer.

The rest of the group left Groningen at 5:45 AM, but I didn't have to leave that early. And after picking up Joost in Groningen just after nine we went to the first restart in Vreedenoord. The day before I checked out the weather report and it looked like it was going to rain some 10 to 15 millimeter. A lot. But by the time we got to the start the gates of heaven closed and it was dry. The rest of the day we only had a small shower, but that was it.

After I warmed up I entered the start area. Carian, who raced the stage before, would cycle next to me for moral support and to indicate the route. After the launch all the runners pressed the start button of their watch and sprinted off. Wow, we were flying because in no-time my heart rate was already above 180 beats per minute and my kilomter time was below four minutes. I'm not going to maintain that for 40 minutes. So I paced myself and started running at my own speed. The trail went over forest trails which were quite muddy because of the rain. A week ago I bought some nice white running shoes, but at the end of the stage they were everything but white. And I even tried to avoid the biggest mud pools. They were in the final kilometer.

Carian was cycling behind me and monitored my speed using the cycle computer on the bike. When I started to slow down she encouraged me accelerate. When there was a hill coming I had to maintain my speed. All in all it really helped to have someone motivate you to keep going. Also the fact that I was slowly gaining on the guy in front of me really helped. Eventually I overtook one person and I almost did the same with a second one.

The last kilometer was the toughest I think. It went slightly up via a muddy path where even the mountain biker had trouble getting though. The stretch just before finish had a slight descent and with the finish line in sight I almost fell. The ground was very uneven with here and there a tree root. My tired legs couldn't keep up with the high pace and I toppled forward three times in a row. Fortunately I could keep myself upright by picking up speed towards the finish. And after handing of the vest with the chip (it was a relay race) I fell to the ground and took a few deep breaths. I finished in 38:14, which is a very good time (for me). My average speed was 13,5 km/h or 4:27 min/km.

Afterwards we got into the car and via another restart we went to the next relay point. It was my turn to cycle along with Esther during her 7.3 kilometer run. The roads were less muddy then my stage, but it was still a lot of fun to bike though it. Running though the forest also has another advantage. You see all kinds of stuff. Halfway the stage a family of deer suddenly crossed the trail. A big one (probably mom or dad) with two smaller ones crossed less then five meters in front of 'my runner'. It was a bit scary at first, but a beautiful sight non the less. Ester finished the race and really did her best. Although she thought she started to fast. Well, you can't have everything. In any case, she was tired and that's all that counts... Wink

The next day I didn't have much trouble with muscle ache or any other kind. And because the race went so well I'm thinking about entering for the Thesingerun this weekend. Somewhere the next morning the final times were announced. Turns out we finished 28th of all the 89 teams. A very good performance if I say say. See you all next year?

Veluweloop 2013 (uitslag per etappe).pdf176.1 KB