April Runs

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Archive for the tag “Leiden Marathon”

10K in Leiden

E has just turned 11 weeks and S three weeks so I thought it was the highest time to return to racing. Ehm, can one do that without any training? Without any sleep or proper daily routine? I figured that a short race, just to get the feeling back, couldn’t hurt and so I convinced V to walk with me with both kids downtown yesterday and visit the marathon Expo in Pieterskerk 250520131627

and as we were checking some seriously discounted shoes (bought 4 pairs, the two of us – see the yellow/orange boxes under the strollers), I enrolled for the 10K of Leiden Marathon that was scheduled for today. DSC_0010

250520131628 The loyal reader knows that last year, me and V ran our fist 1/2M here in Leiden and as this year the 10K was practically passing our backyard, this was the one logical choice to do.

As if the kids knew that today I needed to be (sort of) fit, the night was wild. And so was the morning. By the time I had to leave home (14.00) to (hopefully) get to the start line on time, I was exhausted as if it were midnight. There was a lot of crying, no sleeping, refusal to drink…

Anyway, thanks to V, I managed to leave the house on time. The plan was to jump on the bike and get down town and walk to the start. I had about 2 hours to do that, run my 10K and return home. And believe me, I did not want to be late as the breasts would start hurting like hell and kids would yell.

How does it feel to wait there (I had full 2 minutes of time reserve!) at the start with hundreds of charged runners around me – after NO training at all? My last proper run was probably the 10M race in Amsterdam last September. After that, there was some more jogging and then between December and April nothing at all – just weight gaining, delivering babies, breast feeding and NOT shaving the excess weight off at all.260520131634

The first 2 km’s went ok. I somehow knew I was way too fast but I decided to enjoy the day, the crowd, the run, the feeling. Then after another 2 km’s my legs started to hurt. The good thing was that all it was were muscles – no bones or joints. There was a water station half way and a cup of water indeed came handy (normally I don’t drink when running 10K as the distance is simply not worth it…). Around 6 km, the crisis came. Why do I do this? What am I trying to achieve here? Oh nice, I passed a guy who was probably over 70 years old and now he passed me back. Time to quit, go home, feed the baby and stop pushing the limits.

Except that quitting does not show in my books. And so I went on, jogging over all the paths I know from my early morning city runs – except that now hordes of people were supporting me from the sidewalks. By the time I was at 9 km (took me an hour!), I knew I managed to book yet another minor personal victory. The last kilometer was of course an easy one, with crowds around, music, the perfect downtown Leiden racing atmosphere.260520131635And then the medal, the red ribbon hanging around my neck… of course it is dedicated to my 3 beautiful girls who were waiting for me at home.DSC_0018P.S. I managed to return home within the time limit for another breastfeeding session!

We did it!

This morning, I woke at 5 am to drive my mother to the airport. It was rainy and windy and misty and the idea of running 20+ km in these circumstances sounded everything except appealing to me.

Fortunately the weather improved significantly so after the chaotic ‘what-to-wear’ session (while working warm crusli and banana into my stomach hoping it will stay there) we returned to the original idea of long pants and Team AprilRuns shirt. What a comfort to participate in a 1/2M race that starts just 2 miles from our house! We parked the bikes, visited the portable toilet, panicked some more about Garmin, iPhone, starting numbers (nothing unusual) and walked to start area.

Some twenty minutes before the shot this is what we saw in front of us:

And this is what we saw behind us:

I suggested to run the first 10k in a comfortable pace and see how we feel. Of course, the reality did not resemble the theory at all: the first 5k was one of our fastest ever, then after a short drinking pause (10 seconds of walking) the second 5k was quite similar. Except for my knee we felt very good. The path was quite nice, leading us through small villages and fields, we even saw deer. And along the path there were lots of locals cheering and offering drinks, fruit, sponges… I absolutely loved the atmosphere and was predetermined to enjoy it all the way.

The crisis came around km nr 12. The black currant gel did not go down too well I guess. Also, there was some wind against us and I’ve noticed we were slowing down a bit. Around that moment, I lost my hand made wrist strap with pace time for my Dream Time of 2:20. Well, whatever – as long as we finish, I thought.

I was encouraging V to run faster but she would not leave me behind. I was guessing that part of the reason being her two tennis matches last night. All the time, even though I ran with an mp3 player and earplugs, I was looking around enjoying the crowds: kids giving us high-five (and begging for sponges and gels), families, older people, bikers, dog walkers, musicians. And indeed, the kick I got when people/strangers clapped and yelled my name is hard to describe. And so my first crisis left as fast as it came.

At 15k we paused again, drank some and from that point somehow I knew we would make it. Suddenly more and more people around us were walking rather than running. I have to admit, watching an athletic guy with muscles that looked like sculpted by ancient Greeks in front of me and then passing him by (with my snail pace but still) – that gave me a kick of a century!

Short after that we crossed the 20k sign and intuitively speeded up just a little as one cannot look too slow down at the city centre. The finishing line was a dream, we crossed it hand in hand, laughing like crazy and utterly happy. We ran our first 1/2M and we did it together: for ourselves and also for April.

And for the statistics (not that time matters so much), the time was 2:14:45.

P.S. Even though this little bit is written all the way at the end, it is the most important part of this post: Thank you, V, for doing this with me. And thank you 12Honza, Shadow, Cheeta, Barborka and ALL other bloggers for your blogging which is a neverending source of inspiration for my humble running attempts.

3 days to go

This morning the organizers of Leiden Marathon sent us a reminder that our race is to start in 3 days. As if I did not know! I have trouble in falling asleep for days already, my metabolism has gone crazy, my legs feel heavy (after 5 km of running yesterday evening I had to stop!), my breath is shallow, both knees aching now, not to mention my mind and the voices in my head that keep telling me that there is no way to manage a 20+ km run! What is going on?

I guess it is the pre-race stress and I keep calming myself down that everybody feels it one way or another and that it is a good thing as it helps me to get focused. Or am I just fooling myself? Let’s not forget I was not making any proper long runs in the last month, my body has probably already forgotten my first (and last) 17km training run…

Nevertheless, on Sunday morning, I am predetermined to be out there and fight everything that comes across my path (myself to start with). My first priority is to finish the race. If things go well I would be very happy with any time under 2:30.

P.S. No explanation for this move – but I did register V and me for the 10 km Mattoni Grand Prix in Prague on September 8.

Bad news and The Plan

April’s arthrosis got worse during the past months, she suffered especially from painful swelling in her right front leg.  Several days ago we took her to the vet again and insisted on an x-ray. Unfortunately the results were not good. The pain and swelling are caused by an aggressive bone tumor (osteosarcoma) and it seems like the cancer is spreading into other parts of her body already. Without going into much details, the facts are devastating. She probably only has weeks to live. Except for some pain management, there is nothing we can do for her. No words to describe how we feel. There is a lot of quiet moments, tears and hugging. The good thing (as long as there is a good thing about this situation) is that the pain killers seem to work quite well and April is all happy and vital.

Yesterday evening I took V for a run along the river. I thought it would do us good to go outside together for a change. It was a nice quiet evening and as we were running, without much thinking V said that she would like to run a race with me and The Plan was born: we registered for the 1/2M in our home town.

It is a crazy idea – except for V’s tennis competition and my biathlon races 20 years ago, we have no experience with races. We never even ran 21 km in one go! But somehow, yesterday evening out there, thinking about us, the dog and all important things in life, we formed the AprilRuns Team that will participate in the Leiden Half Marathon on May 20.

Does it make any sense?

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