Road to Rotterdam: Crossing the magic 30

Photo by Robin Kuijs.

Since the last running update, it has been one long month of intensive marathon training. We would run 4-5 times a week including a weekly interval training and a long-distance run on Sundays. It’s been tough finding the motivation behind this training again and again,

every time you come home after work and see the pair of shoes waiting for you to put on. But it has been fun as well. At the end of each run, no matter how difficult it began, I find fulfillment in overcoming myself many times every week.

The last month saw us ascending from 17.9km, 23km and 26.7 km. All three long distance runs went without too much drama. There were moments when we would get very tired but would bounce back quickly. Our joints and muscles would be swollen but would heal after a couple of days. We would subject ourselves to such tortures every week but nothing severe that couldn’t be cured by nice dinners and a good bottle of wine (and icing and lots of sleep of course).

Last Sunday however was different. It was a sort of milestone for us because we have finally crossed the 30km line. It was the most difficult run we’ve ever had.

I don’t know with other first time marathon runners but personally, 30km is a significant distance. The marathon kilometers are revealing themselves to me, the distance is becoming clearer and the difficulty of the race is becoming a reality. Mentally, more than physically, it’s only now that I am convinced that I can actually run a marathon. Mentally I know that I can still push on even if I have to slow down.

After I’ve crossed it, I know that there’s only 12,2 kilometers to go and that’s a distance that I have run before. No, I didn’t know this before I signed up for the Marathon Rotterdam 2015.

I thought that just because I was running three times a week at a fairly fast tempo and have run my first race, I am already prepared for a marathon. When Robin told me that I probably need a running buddy during the training, I said it might not be necessary.

I was arrogant.

While running to 30km, I realized that I probably couldn’t do this if Robin is not training together with me. Or maybe I could but it would be damn more difficult that it is now.

At 26 kilometers last Sunday  my thighs were ready to give up. They were heavy and I was struggling to lift my foot for another step. I was running at a pace of 6:18 min/km, faster than last week but I was still behind Robin. I felt like I was running too slow. I wanted to catch up with him but I finally said “Can you please slow down for me?” From my voice he knew that I was on the verge of crying. He slowed down and I could see that he too was struggling. It was so nice to have someone suffering together with you. Albeit silently.

I believe the Dutch word for this is doorbijten. It has become my favourite word since.

We finished that 30 kilometers and even managed to sprint for another 400 meters to the parking lot where our car was waiting – with a basket of warm 3-in-1 coffee, a bun with goat cheese and ontbijtkoek. After running for 3 hours and 12 minutes, it was the best brunch we’ve ever shared!