Race report: 60 van Texel 2018 – DNF

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his is not a success story. This is a did-not-finish (dnf) report. I failed at my first ever attempt at ultramathon. At 47km, after a gruelling 6 hours and 13 minutes, I threw in the towel. But didn’t I already say that when I started writing my Road to Texel series? Did I start this race with failure in mind?

Perhaps. I might be ambitious but I’m also realistic. From the beginning, I knew that only the perfect conditions would make me complete the race. Unfortunately many things were not under my control.

It was lack of sleep that made the Kustmarathon so difficult and it was the same scenario that failed me in Texel.

I was getting by on 5 hours of sleep for four nights leading up the the race. I could have not started at all, but after 5 months of training, I owe it to myself to show up at the starting line.

The weather was gorgeous, 16 degrees, not a single cloud in sight, sun’s ablazing – the perfect weather for a holiday. But not for running 60km’s.

How it went

The race started at 10:35, just when the last traces of clouds disappeared from the sky. We started strong at 9km/hour. Until the first stretch of beach, 8 kilometers of loose sand and a steep ascent to the dunes. The pace went down from here on.

I was already crying at kilometer 17, even before we started the 2nd stretch of beach. My head was exploding due to the heat. I needed to cry. I needed to clear my head.

I was mad at my child. I was angry at her for having the worst timing. She was sleeping through for several weeks. Then suddenly she started having coughing fits and won’t sleep alone.

Of course it wasn’t her fault that she got sick. I mean, who wants to get sick? I’m not blaming her. I was just analyzing the root of my suffering.

We pushed on. The second stretch of beach was only 5 kilometres but it was as punishing as the first. I removed my shoes as soon as my feet landed on concrete and shook off 100 kilos of sand. And then I told the husband “Now it’s time to run.”

But who was I kidding? At 24 kilometres I burst into another ugly cry. My spirit was so broken.

By this time, the sun was high above the sky and my face was burning. The heat was unbearable. Hikers are taking off their coats, some were only wearing t-shirts. Some runners started walking.

One of them was Sylvia. Sylvia was running the 120 km’s. I think she was at least 70 years old. I chatted briefly with her, hoping some of her super power would rub off on me but she said “I’m already broken as well”.

I stuffed myself with banana, bread, oranges and energy gel at the next aid station. I thought maybe I was hungry. I’m emotional when I’m hungry and it was one in the afternoon. I would be having a big plate of rice by now had I been at the office.

The food helped. I became a little optimistic. But my husband wasn’t. His legs were having a damn hard time. From kilometre 25 until we finished, I think I stopped at least 5 times to massage his calves. We agreed to tackle the remaining 35 kilometre of monstrous distance, kilometre by kilometre and see how far we go.

At the Slufter valley (Sluftervallei) the husband got chatting with another runner who was obviously having a difficult time as well. She said that she’ll be stepping out at the next aid post. The heat was too much for her. The fact that she’s already done 60 marathons didn’t stop her from tapping out. This was also her first attempt at ultra.

Sometimes it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve completed 5 or 50 marathons. An ultra is a different kind of beast. Unfortunately for me, with no sleep and under a searing heat, the beast swallowed me alive

I could only remember a long stretch of boring dike after 30km. On the left was the Wadden Sea, the tide was low that you could see people walking on the shallow water, some of them carrying fishing (?) nets. The horizon stretched far and wide, and there was still no clouds in the sky. On the right was the elevated part of the dike, where normally sheep would be grazing. Even the sheep were nowhere in sight.

Ahead of me I was seeing a mirage. A fellow runner said “fata morgana”. He too eventually stepped out.

When we crossed the cut off point at kilometre 43, and with 1 hour and 40 minutes to go, I thought I could still make it. My legs had a lot more to give. I was ready to exhaust myself to death, my mind was set on crossing the finish line.

Giving up

But the husband’s state of mind didn’t match mine. He couldn’t go any further. He managed to run/walk with me for another 3 kilometres until I speed out and saw him slumped on the side of the road when I looked back. I ran back to him, together with the first aid giver, thinking that he passed out. He was just resting his legs.

My last sign to stop was when we reach the next aid station. Or what was supposed to be one. They’ve packed up everything. The clean up crew came few seconds after.

So we said to each other “This is it. Let’s hitch with them to where our daughter is waiting for us,” and jump at the back of their pick up truck.

I’ve learned a lot things in this race, and during my training. But I’m keeping that for the next running blog. If you’re wondering how I’m doing (after failing such a huge goal) I’m perfectly alright. Not all failure stories are a sad one. I’m pretty damn proud of myself for making it that far eventhough I already wanted to give up. My daughter will read this blog when she’s older and I hope that she’ll pick up a lesson or two.

I’m spending the next few days on the island for a much needed holiday. Then I’ll go back to my normal life of running, working fulltime and taking care of my household. And until the next race, my weekends will be dedicated to my family.

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