Road to Texel: Naive, stupid or ambitious?

I have been training for it since December 2018 but up until today, I haven’t found the courage to blog about my next race, the 60 van Texel. It’s one of those goals that you don’t really want to share publicly because there’s a huge probability that you won’t be able to fulfill it. And I’m not ready to write my very first DNF (did not finish) race report.

The 60 van Texel is an ultra-marathon that goes around the Dutch Wadden island of Texel with a total distance of 60 kilometers. Normally such distance won’t scare me because ultramarathons usually have a more generous cut off time compared with marathons.

But not the 60 van Texel. It’s not a race for slow runners like myself.

To give you an idea, the Kustmarathon Zeeland had a cut-off time of 6 hours for 42,2 kilometers while 60 van Texel has 7 hours and 30 minutes. There’s even a disclaimer in their website that says “Runners who finished a marathon longer than 4hr:15min could possible be overtaken by the sweeper bus ( that bus that picks up runners who don’t make it to cut off). Those who don’t finish within the cutoff time would not be given a medal and will excluded from the finisher’s list.”

Guess what, my fastest marathon was 4:46!

So why the heck did I sign up for this? Call it stupidity, naiveness, too ambitious, whatever. Unfortunately it’s a bit too late to speculate about it now.

After doing another 34 kilometers long run this weekend, I was already kind of impressed with how my training is going. But then I did the math and now I am very worried that I won’t finish on time.

My goal is to finish the race in 7 hours, the original cut off time. The organizers extended it to 7:30 for 2019. Considerate but not exactly generous.

In order for me to finish on time, I would have to run my fastest marathon plus 18 kilometers more. Based on my marathon history, finishing in 7 hours already sounds too ambitious.

If I run like I did in the Faroe Islands, which I considered my best race yet, I would finish the 60 van Texel in 7 hours and 17 minutes, granted that the conditions are favourable – that I sleep enough (10 hours) the night before the race, that the kid is not sick, that the weather is gorgeous and there’s not much headwind.

The prospects of all things going wrong scare me. My what if’s are endless. I’ve never stepped out of a race no matter how difficult it was, even when I was pregnant. And I couldn’t imagine having to do that in Texel.

In the meantime, I’m training as much as I can, or at least as much as life/work balance allows me. This week is already my week 12 of training and I’m raking up an average of 34 kilometers per week. At the time of writing, I’ve already run 137 kilometers in February, and there’s still 5 days of training in the planning for the rest of the month.

But guess what, that’s not enough. In March I would have to average between 50-70 kilometers per week, increase my tempo to under 6 min/km or about 5 kilometers in 30 minutes.

I think I’ve underestimated how difficult an ultramarathon training could be. But I’m halfway through and I couldn’t back down now.

So let’s see. My trip had been arranged, my work leave had been approved, the hotel had been booked and there’s only 1.5 months of training to go.

How was your first ultramarathon?