A running memory and running from memory

I’m back

I thought if I didn’t write this now it wouldn’t get written, and Olive is busy on the Mac book air and Edie on the home computer, while Chrissy whips up some gourmet health feast for tomorrows breakfast.

I finished the Brussels 20km 4 hours ago in hot sunshine – about 26c – I was completely blown.

Since finishing I have eaten a banana, drunk at least 1.5 litres of fluid, eaten a mars bar and a nutrition bar and a half a serve of hot chips (very Belgian) – and guess what I’m still 4kg lighter than when I started!! I haven’t been 62 kgs for at least 20 years!

Yes it was that hot, also I have struggled with hydration with all the flying I have been doing of late (my 5th trip to the USA in 6 weeks tomorrow), and I paid the price, by 4 km’s I wasn’t even sure I could finish, as I hung in waiting for the first drinks stop at 7kms, knowing I was at severe risk of heat stroke.

Olive out MTB’ing with me – part of my build up!

That was where experience kicked in, and running on memory.

I’d had terrible heatstroke twice in my life, once 30kms into a 79km mountain run, I swore I would never let it happen again. I backed off completely in Brussels, ran in the shade wherever it was possible, and just let people pour past. that was experience.

Memory had taught me I could see this through and with a woeful seven kms of over 50 minutes I thought my sub 2hr target was toast – but memory told me, you can do this – so at 7kms I did something I have never done before; I walked and drank 1 litre of water and half a bottle of isotonic sports drink – I was so parched the dextrose tablet I was trying to suck wouldn’t dissolve. I preferred the choice of stomach ache over dehydration.

I thought of my post last night – that the NYC marathon had taught me what was possible, and got away again. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I stormed the rest of the course – I hadn’t done the training for that – but suffice to say I had a purple patch in the middle 7kms, which also fortunately had a lot of shade. Despite wearing out between kms 16-18km marks (mostly uphill) I managed to pull through for a shade over 1hr 56minutes.

So we can do stuff, we can drag ourselves through things, and practice is not just about perfect it’s about preparation both mental and physical, about belief, about understanding your possibilities.

I feel 5 years younger at least, and all I wanted to do at the end was get back to our wonderful girls.

I sneakily got two finishers medals – so they now each have one  – which I told them were awarded to me for having the best girls in Antwerp (you should have seen Edie’s horror when hers fell of the ribbon, and even more so when I threw an apple core in the bin and she thought it was her medal!)

And what of the race as compared with the NYC experience?

Well it was different in all sorts of ways. An email printout sufficed as ID (very loose by Belgian standards), the starting gates (6 for 35,000 runners) were almost empty with 20 minutes to go, there was nowhere obvious to store surplus gear (so my bag of finishing goodies was gone when I returned to it after the run), and as compared with NYC which started with Start spangled banner and Frank Sinatra singing New York New York, …well Brussels had Ravels Bolero and then Beethoven’s 9th – too funny!

Olive at 6 years old doing 1 arm press-ups, I have no idea where she gets that from 🙂 – though Chrissy was the inspiration for this Jillian Michaels session!

Once underway it was similar – I was lucky to be in the second group away, so it was busy but not too crazy, the highlight was the first underpass/ tunnel we ran – almost 1km of people (runners) clapping chanting and whistling – that was the only part that really came close to the buzz of the crowd in NYC – and the difference being it was entirely generated by the runners themselves.

I saw two supermen, ad passed someone running in their civvies with about 4 kms to go – hot! So on the humor count NYC won hands down!

The music on course was very different – almost every band was a jazz band – modern to swing, to more of a traditional brass band, it was sort of kooky fun – the others were all conga drums beating out the rhythm – wherever they were I was grateful to them, music is such an uplifting thing.

The high 5’s were fewer, but they were there and I regret not going back to a young girl on the side of the course in her wheelchair with a broken leg who I did not see until I had passed her – sorry to you if you ever get to read this.

And the course itself was quite beautiful, Brussels is such a different beast to Antwerp, our experience would have been totally different had we based ourselves there, and I say that with all due respect and deference to the great people and friends we have made in Antwerp. I’m just saying Brussels would have been very different, for me the environment is so much more inspiring – hills for one, nice parks, just more sophisticated for a number of reasons – I would love to have done my training there and lived there a while.

Anyway there it is, I don’t have any pics to show you so I have included a couple from recent travels – because I had nowhere to leave a camera or cell phone while i was running.

Edie – giving it heaps at the Atomium (Brussels) – her hair is wild because she’s just jumped of the concrete moulded seat (way cool)

It’s been a good day – We’re all out for Burgers tonight – Olive is going to ride there she’s very excited. It’s been a good week, it’s been a good year.

Thanks for joining me.

Richard