Last year I started the season with a race in the mud, and boy, that race was cold. And muddy. And hard. And it kinda set the tone for the entire season. This year I wanted to start with something similar. Not necessarily an obstacles race, but something on the hills and in the forests. So, I picked a trail race, but a longer one. Instead of going for a 5km race in the mud, I went on a race for 21km in the mountains. But I think I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself. Let’s slow down a bit…
If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know I run a lot. It’s already part of my lifestyle and the implications of running are so deep for me, that even entrepreneurship got its own share of insights (warning: the link goes to a Medium article which was relatively popular last year). So, when I say: “I started the season”, I mean “the race season”, because every year I set some running goals. The biggest goal this year, for instance, it’s called Ultrabalaton and it will take place on May 30th. It’s a 220 kilometers race around lake Balaton in Hungary. The cut-off time is 32 hours, so it means there’s not much sleep involved.
Since the main goal of this year is about this race, everything until that will be just a training. There are few competitions lined up ahead, but none of them would be as important as Ultrabalaton. What sets Ultrabalaton apart is also the fundraising part. I am raising 220.000 RON – basically, 1 RON for each step around the lake – for a charity called “Scoala de Valori” (the Values School), an NGO that helps teenagers to find their mission. Feel free to check the status of the donations and contribute, if you feel like. At the moment of writing this article, there were 1911 RON already donated. Many, many thanks to all the donors!
First Race Of The Year: Brasov Half-Marathon
It was my first trail run, although I did run a mountain half-marathon last year, but it was on asphalt (Transmaraton). I didn’t have trail shoes and that was a mistake. The course was slippery, snowy and muddy. The descent was very steep and there were parts on the trail where I actually crawled, not even walked (running would have been suicidal on those segments).
On the descent, my left knee started to talk to me in a rather serious way. I didn’t expect such a furious descent, with mud and snow and nothing to hold on to, so, on these parts, the only brake was in the legs, with a lot of tension on knees. I slowed down, tried to find a comfortable pace and walked the steeper portions. By the end of the race the knee was fine and, two days after the event, there’s no sign of damage, even after the recovery run. Another goal of this race was to avoid injury at all cost, which, obviously, I did.
All in all, the race took me 2 hours and 50 minutes, an honorable time. Especially since my goal was to get myself in shape for the following races, which means I didn’t force at all. Also, my hills training this year was scarce, at best, and that showed up on the uphill, where I walked at least two times. There was a 750 meters climb on a 8.5 kilometers distance and, at some points, it was really, really steep.
The logistic and the overall organization of the event were very good. The weather was hard on us, but other than that everything was fine, from volunteers (who stayed in the ice cold wind for 3-4 hours cheering us up), to the aid stations, where you could find pretty much everything you needed, from isotonic drinks up to easily digestible food, like pretzels or honey.
I also met a lot of running friends or entrepreneurs. At times, I felt like I was in the backyard of my school, playing with friends. Oh and speaking about logistics, at the end of the race we had some pizza. Boy that pizza was good. And tasty. And warm. 🙂
Well, that was it, next official race will be in two weeks, a marathon in the city of Cluj.
But before that, there will be a long run of 100km. I will run on Friday evening, until Saturday morning, the goal being to reproduce the Ultrabalaton race conditions as closely as possible. I will be coached by Andrei Rosu (the guy who set up the Guinness World Record for running 7 marathons and 7 ultra-marathongs on 7 continents in one year, among other fantastic stuff he does). There will be 2 support cars (thanks, guys, you know who you are! 🙂 ) and at least 2 more runners (they’re training for the same ultramarathon).
Will see how this goes.