Road to Zeeland

I‘ve signed up for another marathon. I am still keen on running one  this year despite my failed attempt at a marathon and a half marathon during the first half of 2018.

On my first year post-partum, I took it easy on the fitness department. My priority was to survive motherhood while working full time without leaving my child in the nursery. Now that she seems to be settling in quite well, we have found a sort of routine that works for all three of us. I now have time to focus on training.

But gone are the days of obsessive training like I did for the Rotterdam Marathon. My priorities remain clear – family, work, running – in that order with no room for compromise. And since we’re facing a lot of logistical challenges nowadays, I chose a marathon that’s nearer home, in Zeeland.

The Marathon

The Kustmarathon Zeeland is considered the toughest marathon in the Netherlands, a 42.2 kilometers stretch of dunes, beach, asphalt and unpaved trails that lets runners experience the beauty of this coastal province. When we told my father in-law that I’m running the Kustmarathon, he shook his head and said ‘You don’t know what you’re starting. It’s very difficult.”

Although he has never run the Kustmarathon, he trained on this parcour for the Rotterdam Marathon, where he finished, if I am not mistaken, in 3 hours and 45 minutes.

I’m not unfamiliar with some parts of the race course. We’ve trained in Domburg, Schouwen Duiveland and Neeltje Jans in preparation for the Torshavn Marathon in 2016. In fact, running in Zeeland, on the bridges and on the beach are some of my favourite training sessions. Even then I already knew that I was bound, sooner or later, to run the Zeeland Kustmarathon.

The Plan

Train smart.

With a busy job, a toddler and a household to run, there’s really so little time left for a proper training. You’re somewhat forced to train smart, making the most of every minute that you can go out and run. A lot of discipline, determination and commitment are required.

For me that’s waking up extra early in the morning to run, getting on the bike at least once a week and regular core training in between, although I still have to muster enough discipline for the latter.

My fixed training days are Tuesdays for tempo runs, Thursday for speed, Fridays for cross-training on the bike and Sundays for endurance runs.

On Tuesdays I do the 10-11km stretch going to the office. That means waking up early to allow enough time to digest my breakfast and going about my work day a little sticky (we don’t have a shower in the office).

On Fridays I take the same distance twice by bike, a total of 20 kilometers of cross-training with one or two bridges if I am not too tired after work.

Sundays are family day on the asphalt, and soon on the beach and dunes. So far, the kid had behaved really well during our long-distance runs. She would either be sleeping, eating or watching the sights go by. The farthest that we’ve managed to run with her is about 16km and she even managed 2.5 hours on the running buggy without much protest (while I was lost in a mountain bike trail).

Even if I want to train more, that’s almost impossible with my busy schedule. Either I go very early in the morning or very late in the evening, before or after the daily household chores. Quality sleep is a very important part of marathon training so I have to make sure I am in bed before 9pm because there’s a real chance that the kid will wake up in the middle of the night, so I grab sleep when I can.

Will I make it?

To be honest, I doubt it very much. As the time of writing, there’s a heat wave going on in the Netherlands and I decided to skip my tempo run today. That’s one disadvantage of an autumn race, training in the summer. Hopefully I will, because this race would be my last chance of fulfilling my goal of at least one marathon per year.

Keep you posted!