Road to Vienna – Groet uit Schoorl – its all in your head!
With some intrepidation I stepped in the car at 08:30 to drive to the Groet uit Schoorl 30 km race:
1. it’s a while that I have run a full 30 km
2. I wanted to run it within 3 hours & my last 2 (slow) trainings of 3 hours have resulted in 25 & 26 km, respectively, being run
3. there were reports of rain and winds gusting to 145 km/hours
To kill these “dood doeners” (bad myths) I countered arguments to myself:
1. I have ALWAYS run this 30 km under 3 hours
2. I have ALWAYS run this 30 km under 3 hours
3. at least 50% of the wind would be behind me
PLUS I always find the atmosphere and the countryside – a mix of forest and dunes AMAZING!
We began in light damp stuff just enough to confuse my Phone for runkeeper so that it decided to whirl around as we went over the start and then pause as soon as it was on. I have a “clock” of the event from c.2 km…
The first 5 ish km are in the village of Schoorl itself. It’s very pretty although the roads were FULL of runners and very wet so with avoiding the people and wet feet I missed much of the lovely houses and amazing gardens. The tour of the holiday village ends with a climb “false plat” out of the village to the foresty parts on the edge of the dunes. Again there is some amazing scenery to see. The translation into English of the name of the village is “shore” and, indeed you can bike/walk/run to the sea from Schoorl. We do not actually see the sea during the run, although we did experience the wind! In the forest there are great caverns of sand and people often climb these for fun!
I was very focused on not running too fast at the start. If you are regular readers to this blog you know that I do this almost EVERY race. It’s a great example of theoretical knowledge over actually DOING the stuff that I have learned. THIS time is would not happen. I had worked out that so long as I simply ran 6 min per km I would make the run in 3 hours. There is always, with me, a bit a thing for building “margin for error” and I wanted to be absolutely sure that I would make the time – recent slow runs with hr between 120 – 135 have been run at averages of 7 – 7,45 mins so although I know I have achieved this “in the past” I was not sure if this is the form that I am currently in. So between 5,40 and 6 min was the target per km.
It felt VERY slow to begin with and I managed to find a small group that were chatting away to each other and seemed to running just under the 6 min mark so I stuck with them for a few kms in the wood.
As we trotted out of the forest area we hit the dunes. Paths were wet. At the moment that I thought “best to keep my feet dry for as long as possible – cannot stand wet feet” – SPLOSH! right in a puddle – the wet cold oozing mud squelched around in my trainer… The wind was pretty much playing the game. Some strong side winds but mostly it was behind. A challenge in itself not to run too fast.
Then we hit it! A wall of wind and piercingly sharp rain that stung my face like tiny pin pricks. Luckily there were people around so I tried to run behind them but it could not be avoided. We run almost 90% to the right to follow the bike track and the wind seemed to die away as quickly as it had hit us. We ran between the dunes and it was incredible how the dunes and the scraggy little bushes growing protected us.
The other thing that I decided early on in the race was that I WOULD enjoy the last 10 km. The previous year had been a different parcours to the first time that I had run this race and there was much mucking about in the village. The half marathon and 30 km run together. I had already spotted the km boards so I knew that there is a point where the two part – its 1 km from the end of the half marathon. So we still have some 9,5 km to go – the mental torture is enough to make the last 10 very difficult. I checked the boards and also saw the 29 km board – that was my target. Reaching that would be my glory point.
I was also counting down in big chunks of the race – 10 km = 1/3; 16 km over halfway (note 15km is not interesting); 20 km 2/3 21 km ONLY 9 km to go; 27 km ONLY 3 km to go and, of course, 29 km – pretty much made it. I heard someone mutter something about “almost a quarter of the way there” and thought – oh could also be a milestone – but it sounds very far away!!
Indeed as we came into the village again there was much encourage from the side lines “not much further to go…” etc. I tried to think “everything’s relative that is true – only 11/10 km to go…” but it was a struggle! The first of the last 10 km is, again, that climb out of the village. I was pleased to see the 21 km fairly soon into the climb then the ONLY 9 km was reached. A couple of kms further I heard heavy steps behind me as a group pf some 6 runners overtook me. They were not running THAT much faster than me so a took a gamble and tucked in behind them. I felt that they were running some 5 seconds faster per km than I really wanted to go… or was I just tiring? I focused on my breathing and set my self a test. If I could continue to fully breath and inflate my lungs then I would continue with them BUT if I started breathing too high I would drop back. It got a bit crowded on the wooded path as we ran to a dead end and round some cones and ran back to join another path. I heard some fellow Englishmen who were running even more enthusiastically than we were and that for Bowl Cancer UK as well [note the whole structure of the running races in the UK is centred around running for charity – watch this space – I will also be running for a charity soon].
I was managing to keep up and it still felt good! 25 km came and went. I missed 26 and 27 km seemed to come fast. I was beginning to feel tired. I kept focusing on my breathing and the wind also seemed to be helping. We came into the village again. My little group broke up as some started to run faster and others fell back. I gathered that the “pacing” had been to support one of the women in the group. I could not see 28 km I really hoped and prayed that we had passed it. The “pacer” was behind me and I heard a friend of him chatting and saying that he had warned him not to go so fast… At last! 29 km – WOW! I planned to feel elated – instead I could feel myself flagging – come on!! So far I was running to plan – runkeeper was telling me 5,39 min per km so I had actually run the last 10 k faster than the first (some 5,46 min per km) – keep it up!
The National Champions were warming up for the National Champion (NK) 10 km race. Some of these runners are professional.
As I approached one of the last turns there was a group of ladies warming up in the other direction. “not far to go – keep it up” shouted one of them to me – truly amazing what that can do to you! I started to accelerate. A short while afterwards, she ran alongside me for a few meters – “looking good – keep up the pace” wow! I was on a high. I could see the FINISH line banner and I focused hard on it. I made it a magnet and I made it get bigger and bigger. I passed a few people on the way – including the commentator who was not fast enough to see my name – I sped under the finish flag and over the mats!! FABULOUS what a great run! A short analysis of runkeeper confirmed that I had run a NEGATIVE split! And that the last 10 km was the fastest. Total time was 2 hours 49 mins 5 secs – VERY PLEASED!