Thursday, November 6, 2014

FIrst - little - ultra experience

Whoa - done!

Since a while I kept playing with the thought of running distances beyond a marathon. Definition comes in handy here  - everything beyond the 42.195 km is called ultra. Be it 50 km, in a flat landscape on a well-maintained path, or be it a 100 miles race in the mountains. I love to think in iterations - hence I've chosen the former. The latter can come later. - Or I'm just shitting my pants?;)

Beside being interested in how it would feel to run longer distances, I also have been observing that e.g. half marathon distance became a normal thing to do for me over the cause of time. I still remember the careful planning before running HM distances in the past (no party in the night before, what to eat before and on the run? what to drink? and what to do if things go wrong?). These days is drinking a sip of water and off we go. How cool would it be, to achieve a similar level of easiness for the marathon distance by making it a relatively short run? Not sure if this works - but first step is done.

Beside listening to and reading all those insane - absolutely motivating - reports from the various ultra dudes, visiting the TorTour de Ruhr earlier the year gave me a big push. Tortour de Ruhr is a private race that takes place on a cycle path - Ruhrtalradweg- next to the river Ruhr - all the way from the source to the junction into the bigger Rhine river. Just 230 km. What?! True - they also have shorter distances - down to 100km (Bambini run). I visit the TorTour de Ruhr this year by running from home to the finish line (around 30 km) - watching some of the runners arrive a the finish line and running back 20 km before actually taking the train back. Took quite some times and I made quite some breaks, but it felt fantastic.

I already had a big goal for this running year - Berlin Marathon - but I also wanted to explore longer distances. There is a short Ultra Race - 50 km distance - close to my home, the Jürgen-Liebert-Ultra which is part of the Bottroper Herbstlauf event. Easy to get there for me. Only issue is that it took place just one month after the Berlin Marathon. Would I be recovered?  Hard to say - so I delayed my registration.

Two weeks before the race I decided to register. All set. How would it be?

I picked up my BIB the day before a race so I was super relaxed on the morning. This is the first difference I noticed to the marathons I have run so far - the people are way more relaxed. Though it happened to be the 42. edition pf the event  and hence they also offered a marathon, the majority of the starters where quite relaxed. I started in the last third of the crowd - taking it easy.  Chatting people, greeting each other and loads of hugs, surrounded me . Large Community. Discussion have been so vivid, that everybody was surprised as the gun went off. No comparison to the hectic marathon folks.

I took it easy to not over-pace in the beginning. Still I was a little faster than most of the others which started just in front of me. So I slowly hopped from group to group, which is always nice. Beautiful weather and the coloured autumn forest made it a fantastic experience.

During the first lap I met my father, who made his way into the forest to cheer me - very nice and good motivation!

Around km 22 I arrived in a group in where I met Michael Kiene. He is a experienced runner and we had a very nice conversation, in which he shared his experience. Thanks! During our conversation, we increased the pace a little, but everything was still under control. At km 33 he left me and I was running the remainder of the distance alone.

Everything went fine and I could hold the pace relatively easy. During the last 10 km my brother turned up to cheer me and take some photographs - thanks!

I must confess that the last 5 km where getting a little tougher, but still easier than the Berlin marathon. My calves started firing and I was a little afraid of cramps. Next time I need to take more salt.

Finishing felt awesome and Michael congratulated me right after the finish line. Topping of the day was that I actually made the 2nd place in my age group. Nothing that I was aiming at, but well - this feels nice.

I recovered quickly from the race and looking forward to then next. Maybe Rennsteiglauf?!

Have a look on strava to see how it went...