The Puinduin is an intimate, informal race of 400 runners held in Kijkduin. Three laps of 3.5 km each, up and down stairs and through horse trails in the park.
Last year we had fresh snow and ice. This year, mud. And lots of it. The course offers plenty of challenge and great rewards. At the top of the many staircases, you are presented with a beautiful view. Each time I made sure to look around and enjoy the sea and the dunes.
I am very happy with my run. I finished in about 1h20, which is about
30 7 minutes faster than last year's race. Today, my legs feel great. That tells me that I had more left in me and could've run faster, perhaps.
Suggestions for next year: don't lift weights the Thursday before the race. I know my plan was to lift on Tuesday, but one thing led to another, and I didn't want to miss weightlifting for the whole week. So I went on Thursday, and unfortunately, I did single leg presses. I was still feeling the muscle fatigue when I started out on the course.
I might also drink more water the day before and go to bed earlier. And consider bringing a small water bottle on the course. Maybe even a third gel pack? But really, I’m caring plenty of fuel and I didn't feel like I was out of gas.
I am pleased with my attempt to become more comfortable with discomfort. For instance, I ran without a hat or gloves. And no iPod. I didn't in fact need my coat after the first 20 minutes either.
I love racing in my racing flats. I feel like I paced myself pretty well since I was able to sprint for the last 500 m at the end of the race, and I never stopped moving on the stairs.
Throughout the race, I was pleasantly surprised that nothing hurt. No feet, no hip flexors, no hamstrings. It was nice not to have any body parts complaining for once. It must be running in the right shoes.
Even better, I was not last this year. After crossing the finish line, I started to walk to the club house. But I turned around to cheer the last runner over the line and help take down the tent. I know what it feels like to run last. It takes courage to keep going when you’re all alone. So I wanted to be there when the last runner crossed. It’s a celebration whenever someone starts and finishes, and even when you simply start and give it your best.
During the race, there was a point where I suddenly realized that I was running very well: I got into a nice groove where I was running hard and breathing deeply without discomfort. Perhaps I can run faster than I think I can. I tried picking up the pace just a bit now and then, but my heart rate was quite high and I was trying to respect the limits I had set for the race.
I had a lot of helpful thoughts, like gliding and floating and lifting my legs. I thought about my centre of gravity and maintaining rapid turnover and relaxing my hands. I pulled my attention up off the ground to listen for the birds, to look around me, and to enjoy what I was seeing. I enjoyed the lake and the canals and the small bridges. I smiled at the irony of the signs in Dutch warning that the foot bridges were slippery. The signs read "glad" with an arrow pointing to even more stairs, which didn't exactly make me feel glad.
When I was really tired, I imagined the runner ahead of me pulling me up the stairs. I remembered the advice I gave the other day that hills are just mental and that gravity works just as well uphill. I took the stairs one at a time, keeping my focus on the stair in front of me. I found it pretty effective to hop downhill on the stairs, but I was a little nervous about the stairs themselves because they were wooden and quite damp. I wasn’t completely sure of my footing.
Before, during and after, I saw many people that I met last year. I enjoyed connecting with many of the triathlon club members I have met this past year. And several runners gave me encouraging words (as they ran past me).
It was last year's race where I got the idea of joining the Hague Triathlon club. The club members were very friendly and came up to me after wards last year and asked me how I enjoyed it. I had the same experience this year, feeling welcomed and included. I stood around with some of the fast runners. I really enjoyed seeing them run and told them so, joking that I liked watching them repeatedly as they lapped me during the three rounds. The problem I have is that I don't have long Dutch legs.
Even so, I've lost a lot of weight this past year, and I have worked on my base fitness level. I imagine I will run faster next year. At some point I will reach my potential, peak, and start slowing down. But not yet.
I hope I will be able to share some photos with you. I have not had time to look at the various collections that are being posted. I'll come back with the official results, and let you know! This was a really fun race. I enjoyed it both during the run and then the rest of the day, thinking about it!
One last comment. Apparently, I ran past this ball of rubble at least three times. Only on the last lap did I actually notice it.