Last Saturday, the 27th of October 2012, I’ve participated on my first ultra run.
The event is called CPH 6 hour run and it happens in Vallensbæk (Copenhagen Area). You basically run against the clock, trying to reach as far as you can in 6 hours. In order to time and measure the run properly, the scope of the event is reduced to a loop of 2221m around Tueholm lake. It may seem boring to run 6 hours in such a small loop, but believe me, after some time you are just happy that you can actually meet people along the run… and the area is quite beautiful as well.
It was a cold day (around the -1 to 4 degrees), I think one of the coldest since the end of the summer. Since I had never run that long, and I would be definitely running much below my usual pace, I was a bit apprehensive as to which clothes to wear. So I used what I considered to be the minimum to keep me warm and brought some extra clothes in case I would feel cold or it should start raining. The sun was shining during most of the run and although it was cold it didn’t really bother me.
The run started at 10AM and my plan was to run a comfortable marathon at 4:40 – 4:50min/km and then reduce the pace to 5:10 – 5:20min/km. But of course I had no idea if that would work and how I would feel after the 4h.
At the start of the run I was feeling good and I completed the marathon when the clock was marking approximately 3:25. From this point on it was unexplored territory and I had no idea how my body would react, but I was still feeling strong. I’ve reduced the pace, as planned, but around the lap 22-23 (~50km) my left knee started to hurt. Since we were running around a lake, the pavement was mostly leaning towards it, which means that the left leg was most of the time lower than the right leg. I believe that this is one of the reasons why I started to feel my knee. I ran 3-4 more laps and I was really having trouble to find my speed.
I went 1 lap over my girlfriend Maibritt Skovgaard around the km 28 and we met again around the km 50. She was quite strong and helped me finding my pace again. We ran 3-4 laps together and then a bike come behind us indicating that she was the woman nr. 2! How cool was that, in her first ultra run! She still had the energy to increase the pace, so she did that. I also had some energy left and I speed-up to 5:00min/km. Every time I stopped my knee would really hurt, so I ran the last 3 laps at a good pace and without stopping at the aid station at all.
The horn sounded and the 6h were gone! I reached 68.6km and was more than happy for that. I placed 7th among the men and 8th overall – which I consider great for my first event of this kind.
Maibritt kept her 2nd position among the women with 66.6km – which I think is an impressive result and I’m really proud of her.
To make a comment about nutrition, I always try to intake energy through liquids, because this is what works for me. So I basically drank a bit after every round (mostly energy drink, Coke – which really works for me – and some chocolate milk) and I kept the intake of solid food to my absolute minimum.
This is definitely not the last time I’ll do an ultra and I am of course now curious about how a 50 miles, or a 100 miles, or 12h, or a 24h run should feel like. So I think that the year to come will be mostly dedicated to running (in what concern sports ;-)) since there are many places and personal limits that I want to race and discover. Above the physical conditioning, this kind of endurance race really requires mental strength to go over some dark moments that I think are inevitable. No matter how good and trained you are, at some point you will feel tired and will wish that the race finishes, but you get to be strong to clear that out of your mind and keep going.
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