Saturday, 24 November 2012

Meijendelloop 2012

I can't decide which is the best part of this race. The gorgeous run in the dunes or sitting by the fire eating apple pie afterwards!

The meijendel run is truly a special experience. late november, 8 AM start, never fails to deliver a cold dark start. this morning I was greeted with frost outlining every blade of grass, every fallen leaf, every twig and branch. the dunes were transformed. bright yellow and orange leaves clinging to low bushes flashed in contrast to the grey veil cloaking everything and swirling over the dark brown, sodden leaves collected in clumps on the ground.

this was a bike-run-bike - as in ride like crazy to the start. I got there at the gun. goal #1 achieved.  ask anyone who knows me and you will find out I am not a morning person. I had collected most of my clothes last night but wasted precious minutes looking for my running coat.

I tried UCAN for my morning pre-race beverage. I had really even energy and kept a pace that pleased me for the whole run.  When I got out of bed this morning I had some pain in my left achilles and allowed for the possibility of running 15 rather than 25 this morning.  

Early in the race, about 20 min after starting, I lost sight of the pack ahead of me.  suddenly a dunes maintenance truck passed me and pulled over. Of course I thought they were going to tell me I was already too slow. (still feeling hurt by the CPC sweepers who told me years ago to leave the course because I was too slow).  Out jumped a runner who joined the race. I burst out laughing and wondered how I could get a ride.

The dawn was spectacular. despite the sunrise the colours remained muted by the fog.  as the temperature rose above freezing, sparkling water droplets formed on every branch.  when the wind came up a bit, I put my jacket back on. the breeze was cold and damp from the fog.

Then I was joined by a grey panther coming up from behind me.  as we matched foot falls the pace quickened ever so slightly. I imagine he was trying to beat the chic; and I was trying to beat the old man. his pace was just a little too fast for me  to carry over a long distance.   I am happy to run my own race these days.  The first year I ran, the sweepers were right behind me and I felt pressured to hurry up so they could get out of the cold. So I dropped out after 15 then. (This is habit forming unfortunately - I still get the t-shirt and apple pie, so why finish?!)

This year being passed by others increased my resolve to race next year 30 lbs lighter. That is an overstatement, but I want relief from the head noise about running while overweight (well, and the effort to carry my pork belly around).  Self-image can become a barrier. When I was sitting by the fire (with this year's men's winner), another runner asked me if I was the first woman finisher.  Funny that he saw me as that person.  I was inspired by the possibility that someday I could say yes to that (okay, what I really thought was that I should train hard and next year I will win).   Instead, I somewhat sheepishly explained in halting Dutch that I had some foot pain and withdrew after 15 km. I was again seduced by the turning point on the course where you head away from the finish for the last 10 k loop.  The twinge in my achilles confirmed it.

This brought up the question of why finish?  I did not train for this race specifically.  I have not been running regularly since August after injuring my foot. At best, I have jogged every Sunday around 8 km. I have more races planned for December, January, February and March. So I decided it would be prudent to listen to my body, which was complaining a bit, rather than hurt something enough to keep me on the sidelines next month.  I feel really satisfied by 15 km.  And isn't that the point of running?