SwissAlpine Marathon K78 ultra 2012 - race recap

Okay, where to start? Another SwissAlpine Marathon K78 (my second). Another 50 miler (80-ish K). Again a ton of meters / feet elevation gain. Another amazing day. Is it even legal to have this much fun?

So, where to start... The day before? There we go.

Friday, July 27th 2012

After Facebook stalking each other for two years straight - Niels and I finally ran into each other! Halle-bleepin-lujah! Not only is he incredibly nice, he's also an amazing ultra runner. Super speedy and extremely well trained. And great fun to be around! Plus, we share a love for brightly colored running gear. Ha!

Saturday, July 28th 2012 - 6:45 AM

After finally running into Niels, I can't seem to get rid of him. ;) Bonus, I also got to meet one of my other Facebook stalking projects: Gabi! And in case you were wondering why Niels ran a kick-ass PR of 8 hours 18 minutes at the SwissAlpine K78 50 miler - this is why. ;)

Oh, and don't let Gabi's skirt fool you - she is freakishly fast. Like 9 hours fast. Whoopa!

Saturday, July 28th 2012 - 7 AM

Mom dropped me off at the start line and now it was time to tackle this beast! Spotted Laetitia right before the start and we crossed that start line together (it was her first 50 miler / 80K - she kicked some mountain butt!). Boy, was I looking forward to this thing! :)  The first 6-ish K of the race are a loop the the town of Davos, Switzerland. Great way to 'run into' running buds. Chatted with Allan for a while, then surprised Janina and Peter, spotted Ruud and then decided to stalk Femi. Ha!

Lengmatta (8-ish K / 5 miles)

After the loop through Davos we headed for Frauenkirch / Lengmatta. That's Femi right behind me (yes, I was still stalking him). Right after this photo was taken, I was spotted by Sarah. She did great at the 30K race!

After Lengmatta, we headed for Glaris (10-ish K / 6 miles) and started to climb up to Spina. Absolutely love the cow bells up at Spina. So cool! After crossing Spina we ran through the forest - lovely trails. Right after we crossed Monstein. That's where Matthias spotted me. Thanks for saying 'Hi', Matthias! We chatted the miles till the Zügenschlucht (16-ish K / 10 miles) away. :) Unfortunately, Matthias had some nasty knee issues, and made a wise call finishing at the 30K mark. He's a total rock star for going to the finish line in Davos after that, and waiting for the K78 runners in the rain!

That's Matthias on the right. In case you were confused by the compression shorts I'm wearing. ;)

Zügenschlucht - Filisur (16-ish K - 30K / 10 miles - 19-ish miles) 

I still think the Zügenschlucht is one of the most amazing places out there. So gorgeous and such an experience to run through. Could not get that 'is so beautiful out here' smile off of my face. This photo is taken just after leaving the Zügenschlucht and right before Wiesen. And yes, I am aware of the fact that I'm sporting a 'rabbit in the head lights' look. Get over it. ;)

Wiesen = the Wiesner Viadukt. :) I love staring down into this amazing gorge. And running the Wiesner Viadukt is 'kinda cool' (understatement). In my humble opinion. :) Oh, and apparently I had some thing for the sock monkey I was carrying around all day. Don't ask. Must have been the endorphins.

Okay, what's next? Some hilly trails. Fun hilly trails, though, on the way to Filisur (30K / 19 miles). And yes, there's the Sock Monkey again. 

Right before crossing Filisur, I found myself running next to Werner. Loved meeting you, Werner, and thanks for taking these photos. Even when I'm obviously having one of my non-Heidi Klum moments. Why did you have to tell me 'to look like I was running'? This is what you get. ;) Oh, and you should really try the K78 next year! :)

My 'Heidi Klum meets Usain Bolt' pose. Enough said.

Filisur - Bergün (30K - 40-ish K / 19 miles - 25 miles)

I'd reached Filisur after 3 hours and 9 minutes and continued my way to Bergün. It was at this point where I got the chance to run with Julie and her husband for a bit. Both of them are nice nice and the fact that they are battling this thing together - is pretty darn sweet. And that's a lot coming from a non-romantic nut. :)

Apparently there had been a land slide on the original route between Filisur and Bergün, so we had to follow this road to Bergün, instead of the planned trails. 

That's Julie in front of me (in the yellow top).

Bergün - Keschhütte (40-ish K - 53K / 25 miles - 32 miles)

Ah, Bergün. Where the rain kicked in. Woo-hoo. And the thunder storms. Brilliant. This thing for my Sock Monkey was still very much present. Embarrassing - at least. Reached Bergün at 4 hours and 9 minutes into the race.

Mom was waiting for me at Bergün - with a cheese sandwich, a bottle of coca cola (yeah, I can drink caffein during races :) - caffein detox rocks) and a fresh pair of shoes - slippery mountail trail specific shoes. :) After leaving Bergün and heading for Chänts the rain and thunder storms kicked in. Big time. Thank the running gods I'd decided to pack my Goretex jacket in my pack. Right after struggling with my pack and almost choking myself with my iPod cords putting on the jacket I heard my name. Femi! Yay! Someone to bore the heck out of on the way to the Keschhütte. I kept chatting away - I'm seriously surprised that he didn't kick me off that hill. I could not have blamed him. ;) Especially after I'd announced that 'I'd have to pee at some point'. 'Charming' has my name written all over it.

And yes, we were only running for this photo to be taken. After passing the camera guy we pretty much stopped in our tracks. ;)

The real climb to the Keschhütte starts at Chänts. Lucky for me they had proper toilets there (not that I mind doing my business in the woods - I don't mind at all - kind of worries me. ;)) - climbing with your bladder ready to burst, isn't my idea of fun. It was in these toilets that I noticed that I did not smell peachy. Sweat bunny galore. Enough said. Weird, since I normally smell like fresh rose buds. All day, every day. No kidding. ;)

What's next? Oh, that's right. The climb to the Keschhütte. Ouch. Let's just say that I have quite a lot of photos of this bit, since I was enjoying the view so much. It had nothing to do with me holding on for a sec to let my quads have a moment of rest. Okay?

Yep, I had brilliantly managed to tangled up my iPod cords with my camera. I'm gifted.

Ouchie and so amazingly beautiful at the same time.

A little after this point I spotted Femi again. We began noticing a lot of the K42-runners (marathon distance with a 11:30 AM start in Bergün) on the course. Since Femi and moi (and the other K78-runners around us) already had 53K / 32-ish miles in our legs, we weren't as fresh as the K42 runners. Not ideal on single trails - especially not when these K42 runners start pushing you to the side. And yes - some of them did ask to pass, so we could make way, but despite that - not fun. Especially since I (and several other runners) spotted and helped multiple runners (both K78 and K42) that fell off of the trail because of this. Not that any of us did mind helping others out, but someone could have gotten seriously injured. Dear race director of an amazing race (and that's what the SwissAlpine Marathon is), could you please sort this out for a next race? Start time, whatever. Nothing to complain about, but pretty please? :)
6 hours and 51 minutes into the race, I spotted the Keschhütte (53K / 32-ish miles). So glad! :) And so windy up there! :)

Keschhütte - Sertig (53K - 65K / 32-ish miles / 40-ish miles)

After Keschhütte (the weather got sunny) we were on our way to the Sertig Pass. Another climb. But a gorgeous one. First we had to climb to the Sertig Pass at 60-ish K, before we could start the descent to Sertig.

Boy, was I glad to reach the Sertig Pass. Again, very windy. But - wait for it - they had Coca Cola. Woo-hoo! For a girl that has detoxed from caffein and promised herself it is okay to drink caffein during races - this was like finding a box filled with gold. :) Plus, isn't this view amazing? :)

Yep, it's still a pile of rocks. :)

Hey! It's Femi! Looking fresh as a daisy!

And that's me. Displaying how I felt about the high alpine part of the race. Looking like a goof ball and not smelling like a daisy.

Sertig - Davos Platz (65-ish K - 79-ish K / 40-ish miles - 50-ish miles)

After the (partly steep) descent to Sertig I hoped Bram was waiting for me. He was in the K42 race and was sweet enough to wait for me at Sertig, to run the last bit together. Since I had been speaking either German or English for most of the day, speaking Dutch apparently sounded like Bulgarian. That is, according to Bram. And silly me was wondering why he kept telling me that I should eat something. Whoops

This photo pretty much captures that moment. Me playing around with Sock Monkey. Bram looking at me and obviously thinking 'What the F is going on with her? Why the heck did I wait for her?'.

Lucky for me, he did not ditch me on the way to Davos, so I had someone to sing to for the last 10 miles. Shocker - apparently I can't sing. Boo-freaking-hoo. Some people just don't appreciate a girl trying to entertain.

And before I knew it (and right before the thunder storms kicked in again), I found myself a couple of hundred meters from the finish line. After 10 hours, 28 minutes and 41 seconds, 79-ish K / 50-ish miles and after 2,600 meters / 8,530 ft of elevation gain, I could not have been happier. I had a blast from start to finish. Felt great all the way through (such a gift). The kilometers / miles kept ticking away. And I nibbled an hour off of last year's time (although I feel that last year's race was a bit longer and had some extra elevation gain, but that's for the RD to decide).

How I love this race. Thanks, dear race director and race crew, for setting up such an amazing race. :)

All post finish photos below are courtesy of Wendy Widmer (my dearest Wendy :)).

Okay, I seem way to happy with that beer.

Apparently, I'm a giant. I don't even fit into this photo. What the heck.

Ran into Matthias at the finish line! Had such fun running with him at Monstein.

Wendy! The girls with the fancy kinesio taping on the knees. Won't be long till you see this look on the Paris' catwalks. Mark my words.


Swiss Alpine Marathon K78 ultra - quick teaser

I. Freaking. Love. This. Race. And I'm not talking 'I love gum'-love, but 'LOVE LOVE LOVE'-love. Enough said. ;)

Finished my second Swiss Alpine Marathon K78 50 miler yesterday - had a freaking blast. Could not get that big smile off of my face. Okay - that's not entirely true. I did have my 'moments' while climbing to the Keschhuette. Then again - who doesn't? But still - had a great day (despite of the weather). Took me 10 hours 28 minutes and 41 seconds of FUN to finish this 50-ish miler / 79-ish K. With tons of meters / feet of elevation gain. I felt blessed from start to finish. :)

Full race report is coming up a.s.a.p.. As soon as the photos are online. 


Hi from the Swiss Alps

Up in the Swiss Alps. It's been pretty freaking amazing - this last week has been food for the soul. :)

As for tomorrow's Swiss Alpine K78 50 miler - fingers crossed. Slowpoke says 'here goes nothing' - let's photograph the heck out of these mountains. :)


I quit...My job that is

Yep, that is correct. I quit my job. To start my own firm. This implies - being self-employed as a lawyer / an attorney starting August 1st. Scared sh*t and extremely excited at the same time pretty much sums it up. Roller coaster.

The last couple of weeks have been insane. Getting some sleep in was overrated. Work, 'the new thing' and running were all I had time for. I am knackered. I was lucky to get some hours of sleep in a night.

Luckily, I hope to leave for Switzerland tomorrow. House sitter instructed, huge pile of stuff I need to jam into a bag, huge box of energy gels/salt/bars, etcetera. Planned race I hope on running: Swiss Alpine K78 ultra (50 miler). The one I did last year and had a blast at.

Oh yes, and I will find time to bug you with pics of the Swiss Alps. No worries there. ;)


I quit...caffein, that is

I quit. 

Caffein, that is. 

Cold turkey.

Quitting caffein cold turkey is not my idea of fun. Enough said.

Why? Well, kind of took a detour to this one. Had a dentist appointment a couple of weeks ago. I told my dentist I drank quite a lot of soda. And there he went: lecture on soda and tooth erosion. He showed me photos. Enough to scare the hell out of this self-declared Google self-diagnoser. So, I quit the diet coke - was drinking quite some glasses of that a day. Since I am not a huge fan of coffee (well, I do drink the occasional ristretto), quitting diet coke automatically implied quitting caffein. I figured, why not go cold turkey. That way I can save the Coca Cola and caffein for races and will benefit of its effects - more than I did while drinking caffein on a daily basis.

How did I do it? I had my dentist appointment on a Tuesday - late AM. I did have a glass of diet coke that morning. After visiting my dentist I did not have any more diet coke that Tuesday. I could feel the caffein headache (side effect of the caffein detox) kicking in. Had one glass of diet coke on Wednesday morning. That seemed to help the headache for a couple of hours. Kicked in full force in the afternoon - migraine headaches. Not fun. That glass of diet coke on Wednesday morning was my last glass before I went cold turkey. Thursday was awful - could not stay awake, the migraine headache didn't help. Friday was okay-ish. Did notice that I found it easier to get out of bed in the morning. Drank lots and lots of herbal tea during these days (regular tea has caffein in it). Saturday was awful again - ran in the AM and spent most of the afternoon on the couch. Sunday was not super, but slightly better than Saturday. Still had a mild headache. Same goes for Monday. Monday afternoon I started to feel better. After that - I have not looked back. Up to date. :) Did have Coca Cola during the ultra a week and a half ago - and did feel I got more of a kick from it than I did before. Had no problem at all not having any diet coke after that.

For now: I am glad I quit caffein. I feel it is easier to get out of bed in the morning, and feel more energetic. But that might be just me. ;) 

Caffein detox is not the most fun thing to do, but - in my humble opinion - it is worth it. 

Are you a caffein junkie? Would you consider quitting?


Festival Trail Semois recap

Closest thing to mountains near Holland is the Ardennes region (Belgium). And - lucky me - the Ardennes hold lots and lots of fun races. Last weekend's race (June 30th) is one of those.

53K / 33 miles - 1,600 meters / 5,300 ft elevation gain. Steep up- and downhills. All sorts of fun. :) Goal of this race was to get running buddy Laetitia - an ultra trail virgin - through the race. Sub goal was to let her have a great time.

(Photo courtesy: Leonie van den Haak)

The Ardennes' way of a start - how freaking cool is this? Way cooler than the boring gun thing. ;)

We headed out at 11:10 AM - the RD informed us that they had altered the route because of the river crossing (too much water to cross). Headed out at whatever pace felt comfortable to Laetitia. Considering the unexpected heat - wise call.

Leonie, Laetitia and moi were pretty impressed by the whole start thingie. And yes, I tricked Laetitia into the color bomb look. ;) In the back is blog reader Allan: congrats on finishing as speedy as you did! :)

Despite of two face plants (yes - within 2 miles of each other - I must learn to lift my feet), I had an amazing time. Nice relaxed run - beautiful scenery. Loved the course.

Uphills. :)

That castle all the way in the back: they made us climb it. How cool is that? :)

Did I lie about the scenery? ;)

Things sort of went slightly wrong after this point. We might have missed a turn with a group of runners... Add another 3K / 2 miles and 200 meters / 656 ft elevation gain to the course. ;)

More uphills. Yeah, baby. :)

7 hours and 14 minutes  and 56K / 35 miles (1,800 meters / 5,900 ft elevation gain) later Laetitia was no longer an ultra trail virgin. I had a blast out on the course. Legs felt fresh at the finish and ready to go for some extra hill work the next day. Great training weekend! :) And yes, I'd clearly collected every sip of water on course in my belly... Charming, huh? ;)