The Slachtemarathon 2012 – very civilised!
The alarm went off at 03:45!! In fact I had been told to get up at 03:00 but Joost drew the line at that. We were staying with friends in their beautiful Swedish style home in Aldenouer, Friesland. This was to be Johan’s first marathon – so extra exciting. As I peered out of the window I could see the rain and the wind blowing the trees. Ummm… this was not in the plan.
The Slachtemarathon is only organised every 4 years. It is a huge event including a walking event which follows the same route as the runners. On the way music, cultural happenings, artists, poems, songs. Along with our number, we had been sent a book in both Fries and Dutch. The book contained the route description and also poems and songs and times that e various bands and choirs would perform. The start of the race begins at 06:30 for the runners!
The Slachte dyke runs through 22 villages and each village organises something special for the runners and walkers. This takes the form of music, artwork, Tea & coffee :-)
So breakfast – white bread and honey. No brown bread as the fibres would make my digestive system go to fast. The white bread as a slow carbohydrate and the honey for the energy. Then to the loo!
Preparation filling my little bottles for my belt AND, just as in training, another larger water bottle (and so 2 belts) with Winrgy. Stuffing the little pockets of my belt with Sure2Endure, fixing my gels to my belt and, my secret weapon, a Winrgy Shooter – took some time!
In spite of the wind and the rain and the early hours, I decided to wear shorts as I thought that it would be hot. Johan kindly provided me with a black bin bag as I had forgotten to pack a plastic mac.
The marathon started in Raerd. Joost took us in the car – so no complicated buses for me! As we approached the village a long line of cars had already assembled. It seemed crazy to go to a village in the middle of nowhere at 6 o’clock in the morning and for there to be a traffic jam!
Johan & I struggled out. I discarded warm sweatshirt, jacket and loaded myself up with drinks and number belt and fashionable bin liner. Off we went, leaving Joost to find us somewhere on route. We wandered, along with other runners, towards the village where we would start. On the way was a sports school with REAL loos!! Fab!! Last preparation was performed :-)
The village was full of runners, a band and a scattering of supporters. There was a fantastic local atmosphere. This really is a Fries event and as I chatted to my fellow runners, most of them were from villages close by. I was probably one of the only foreigners (that includes those from outside Friesland and in the rest of The Netherlands!!)!
There were only about 1500 runners so those was very different to my other marathons each of which had over 30,000 runners!! I found my own Bergse Runners members very easily. A few of them were in the first starting block and as I wondered towards the 4 h 30 min block I saw almost all of them. It was great that it was so easy to find everyone.
By this time there was little rain and it actually looked as if it may be sunny.
We started a few minutes later than the scheduled time and there was a round of slow clapping before we finally got off. It did not seem to be the usual scramble after the start. In fact there was so much room for everybody, it was all very civilised.
I, as I always seem to, in races, found it a challenge to get my heart rate under control. It settled at around 140. A little later it was more around 150 and there it stayed for a substantial way (well, ok, until about half way!).
I felt VERY good. MUCH better than I had for Rotterdam. The first few blocks of 5 minutes, my Runkeeper told we were at 6.01 minutes per klm. I was very pleased. I was also running a very steady pace.
We seemed to group up quite nicely and for a while I was running with a small group including two girls from Leeuwarden. They were part of a larger group of runners and for then it was their first marathon. They had quite a good pace and I ran with them for a while. I stayed at a pace of 6.05/6 per klm. The girls picked up their pace and I ran with a group of 2 other women and 3 men.
It was a great atmosphere. The one chap, very tall with red hair – seemed to be a famous Fries as he knew EVERYBODY supporting so we had great cheers and encouragement.
At a few points we really were running in the grass and MUD. It was very slippery and concentration to stay upright was a great way to forget about the klms. At a few points this was not very enjoyable. I tried to look on the bright side by saying to my tall red-head that it was good for our legs to run on soft ground. He did not share the same opinion!!
The weather was almost perfect. A little windy and some running against the wind. The extra push in the back from the wind was very much appreciated. The rain was also great! It came at just the right cooling moments!
Bridges – there are 3 of them! The first one I thought was the scariest. It was quite steep over the motorway, metal and had those square gaps – I hate the fact that you can see through the bridge and it was very slippery. There was another that was a concrete thing with a gentle incline – also you could stay running. It was followed by mud again – not much fun. The final bridge was just after the 36 klm stage. It was vertical up and down so there was no way to run. It was a good calf stretcher for the first stage. The steep down phased looked horrific. I came down backwards with the help of the railings as I figured that it would cause less damage to my tired legs! There was a photographer so I am curious if I was caught on camera!
Given my previous experiences I was very focused on stages of the marathon. I no longer thought about the first half as a race to beat a half marathon time. At midway I was at 2 hrs 10 mins and so “on track” for a PR. So far I had yet to cover the 2nd half faster or even in the same time as the first half. The difference here was that I was really not that focused on the final time MUCH more on making sure that I stayed steady and prepared for each NEXT phase.
I focused on the time 24 klm to 27 klm. In Rotterdam, I faded at 27 klm so I did not want that to happen so soon again. One of the preparations was to drink more. I used each of the drink posts – at every 5 klm - even more frequently than I had previously experienced AND every 3 – 4 klm took a couple of slugs of Winrgy. Sure2Endure, which can help to support the oxygen, a gel and Sure2Endure. I was really focused on how I was feeling. My heart rate was about 162 – not really as to plan so I turned off mt heart meter as it was peeping.
I got through the 27 klm! and felt great!! The pace was still an even 6.06 min per klm – amazing!!
Next to focus on 27 – 32 klm. Again, similar ritual. I could feel my legs and bottom beginning to tire. Relative to how I felt in Rotterdam – this was still great!
At 32 klm legs were feeling a bit more tired and I noted that the pace had dropped a little. My average pace was 6,10 mln so I must have slowed. BUT no real disaster. At 34 klm is was definitely becoming harder. I think that we had mud again and that took my mind off the klm counting. This mud was the worst and at the end of it I lost my red-headed friend. I trotted along. Average pace did not seem to have dropped but it was feeling more painful. The bridge was a challenge and then more mud.
At around this stage a took the Winrgy shooter. I was concerned that this was a little soon. On the other hand its full of B5 and under normal circumstances keeps me going for 3 – 4 hours with more energy. I considered that it was better to be sooner than later. In fact that was pretty much my strategy for the entire race.
After the mud then we were at 36 klm so mentally not far to go. I felt the klm were slowing – there seemed more space between the klm markers! In fact Runkeeper profile shows that I slacked off big time at 35 klm to 7 mins a klm.
I focused still on each phase. This phase to 39 klm (I tried not to think about 40 as that would be TOO exciting!) was getting much harder. I was now running totally on my own. I thought I should now be able to “pick bodies” - indeed there were a few but there were also people over taking me.
At 40 klm there was a great deal of encouragement from the volunteers (many of whom were children – may many thanks!!!) and onlookers. Only 2 and a bit to go!! It still seemed far away…
Even at 40 klm the last two klm were MILES away!! I was not dead – as in previous marathons. In these I could not feel anything by this time. I could definitely feel! Very painful :-)
At 41 klm I said to myself, “come on girl, pick up”. Then something really great appeared on the horizon! THE END!!! in great big letters. I had seen flags along a very long road and thought that we had to run to a distant village. This was like seeing an oasis in the desert!!!!
All of a sudden it seemed easier! As THE END approached the running became easier. Behind me was the 4,30 pacer. No way was she going to pass me!! I started to run faster, almost sprinting (well it felt like it!!). As we ran under THE END – it was NOT!!! Agh!!! That was the 42 klm post and we still had a few hundred meters to go. To be honest I had thought that this might be case so I was not totally unprepared. Right now really GO FOR IT!! and I did – somehow the speed came from somewhere. I actually sprinted past two people and I could hear the commentator picking up on my pace – this felt amazing – almost as if I had won the race (this had happened some 2 hours and 10 mins earlier!)!!
WOW! I felt really great. The best finish ever for me in a marathon. My run keeper said 4, 29 I wondered if and when I had started and finished it - could it possibly be a PR and under 4hr 26 min. The final result was 4 hr 29, 04 – I am still very pleased!
Friesland – you may very well see me in 4 years time!
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