As you can all probably see, this is a new feature on my blog! In my latest post I shared how I would be making some changes and this is one of the first sections I added. I have mentioned my runs before, but only briefly, and that’s something I have wanted to change for a long time. Truth is, I run 3 times a week, training towards half a marathon and I want to start sharing my journey and progress with you! So from now on I’ll be doing Race Recaps from the running events I did!
16 April was race day! The Antwerp 10 miles! I’d been training towards this race for the past few months. It would be my longest distance run up to date and to say I was a little nervous would be a big fat understatement. I’d run quite a few 10k distances before, but the leap from 10k to 10 miles (a little less than 17k) is a pretty big one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well-trained and I’d run distances longer than 10k by myself (and with my dad), but still, this would be a first and I think firsts are always pretty nerve-wracking.
Before the start
I actually planned on wearing long tights during the 10 miles, but when we parked the car and I saw how sunny it was (against all odds!) I grabbed the pair of running shorts I’d hastily thrown into my bag the day before, just in case the weather decided to play nice, and changed. Armed with an iPod filled with kickass fast paced music and the best running buddy a girl can wish for (aka my dad) I joined hundreds of others at the start, nervously shifting my weight from foot to foot. Tons of banners with funky little motivational quotes like “sweat, run, smile every mile” helped in calming down some of the nerves a bit and once the starting shot ran out I resolved to just run, have fun along the way, and not worry about setting a time.
Kilometer 1 – 5
I noticed pretty fast that this was going to be a good run. I set a good pace right away, the weather was GREAT and there were supporters cheering the runners on everywhere. After the first 2k the first tunnel appeared. I have never trained for those and I had been warned in advance to take them slow, as it would be hot inside and because you’re climbing, because it’s an easy way to drain all your energy when you haven’t even really started. I took it slow and as a result I pretty much breezed through the frist 5k.
Kilometer 5 – 10
A little after passing the 5k marker and right before the second tunnel was the first water point. Can’t say I really needed it yet, but with the sun shining brightly and right another hot tunnel coming up ahead I wasn’t going to complain or pass it up. Freaks by Timmy Trumpet blaring in my ears, running was going great and I was having tons of fun watching all the supporters that were literally EVERYWHERE along the route.
Kilometer 10 – 15
Normally, after passing the 10k mark, I start to tire a bit and running becomes a little less fun for me… However, that wasn’t happening, yet. I mentioned the supporters before, and I they pretty much pulled me through those next 5 kilometers. I was hearing my name shouted along with encouragements left and right for quite some time already. At first I wondered how they actually knew my name, silly me, because my name was on my starting number, haha. The music, crazy amount of supporters along the route all attributed to the GREAT atmosphere. It’s the best thing to experience! At one point my dad grabbed a cone and shouted my name through it, supporters all around started clapping and shouting my name, it was crazy, and it all put one big CRAZY smile on my face.
These last few kilometers were absolutely killing. They saved the last, and hardest, tunnel for last. That picture was taken right before the tunnel from hell. The banner being the only thing that was fun about it, it says: “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”. Do me a favor, if you ever find yourself in the Waaslandtunnel in Antwerp, please curse it for me. I was told that every year quite some people collapse inside that particular tunnel, but a part of me hadn’t really believed the stories. Man, it was hard. It killed my pace, and I pretty much cursed myself for ever deciding to run the Antwerp 10 miles. The heat inside the tunnel was stifling and all I could hear was the pounding of running shoes against the asphalt echoing all around me. My legs became heavy and I looked at my dad and told him that I didn’t think I could do it. I thought I would make it out of the damn thing (the climb was about 1k up). He pulled me through it (almost literally) and told me that once we got out it would only be 500 metres until the finish. I didn’t really believe him, but once I pushed through the pain and exited the tunnel still on my feet I saw a sign saying “500m until finish”. I actually managed to run a little faster and at 01:44:53 my dad and I passed the finish line: 10 miles in the pocket!
Even with the tunnel from hell, this was one of my favorite races ever, and most of that has to do with the atmosphere. I have never ran a race where there were supporters throughout the ENTIRE route, it was crazy, the whole 10 miles people were beside the route encouraging and supporting the runners. Best thing ever! I am going to train for those tunnels, and next year I’m running the Antwerp 10 miles again, hoping to better the time I set this year!