The RWW-Jürgen-Liebert-Ultra Ultramarathon

Sunday morning (11.11.2012) I joined another 280 runners to run the 40. Bottroper Herbstwaldlauf / RWW-Jürgen-Liebert-Ultra. The 5oKm track consist of two 25 km rounds, through a beautifully nature preservation area. Most of the track was run through woods, with a few very slight hills. Despite the predictions the weather was perfect, it was not raining and the temperature was good.

The organization did a really good job, along the track were several stands with food, thee, water. The atmosphere along the volunteers and the runners was great. All in all close to perfect race conditions. I was not happy with my own condition and preparation; my small toe was still bruised and taped, this and partially because of a stupid accident, I was not able to do my training the last 3 weeks for the race.

My plan was to run the 50K in 5:20. I am not the “run on the hour” type of runner, but I think its always good to set a goal. It helps to push when things get difficult and since this was my first long distance run I had to have some kind of planning. The first 30 km went pretty good, I was a head of my schedule since it took me almost exact 3 hours. At that point I felt pretty good and still strong so I kept the same pace, my goal was to run the next 10k in 60 minutes which would give me enough time for the hardest last 10K.

Well that was the plan, Around Km 37 my legs suddenly started to hurt, specially my right knee and the food with the bruised toe started to be a problem, so I slowed down a bit in the hope the pain would disappear. Pain is not good for the moral, when you encounter pain during a run suddenly a lot happens. You try to ignore but an internal fight already start, the body gets in another mood and it tries to convince the mind to slowdown, to walk or even to stop. The mind needs to convince the body that all is ok. This is an interesting process, and this time the mind won. My mood was good; I was having fun, I had some talk with other runners, jokes were made. My brother (on his bike) who was supporting me during the race, helped to get my mind of the problem and to concentrate again on running.

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the face. – Mike Tyson

From km 30 till 40 took me about 20 minutes longer then I had planned. I was happy that I reached the Marathon point at 4:38. From that point it was only a 8 Km to go. The last 8kM took me about a full hour, since I had to alter between running and walking, Which was in the end a good strategy that I maybe should have started a bit earlier in the race. Walking during a race is something you need to learn to accept, it helps the body to relax and rebuild up energy. I did not stop at any of the food stands the first 30k, now I think it would have been better, just to get something there and walk a few minutes while eating and drinking. Also my pace could have been slower for the first 35K so I would have had more energy to deal with the pain.

The last 3 km the pain was mostly gone and my energy came back, my pace was still slow but I could keep on running without walking. All in all I made the 50 Km in 5:38:48 and I am happy with the result. Happy that I made the finish line in a good mood and in a good physical shape, and happy with the experience. One lesson that I learned; don’t trust the plan, trust the gut. I need to learn to run slower but more steady when running a longer distance, or if needed alter between running and walking earlier.