The 24 hour race in Basel on May 8/9th was a good occasion for a longer training run. Since the course is a loop there is constant support – psychological as well as material – in the form of food, drinks, medical, massage, cheering – and places to nap. Plus the surroundings are great – lush green everywhere. My goal was just to do 80 km, enjoy some breaks and massage stops, and then see. With my present Channel swimmer weight I just want to be able to survive the run part of the Channel triathlon.
Taking the train to Basel I started two hours late and was happy to avoid the midday heat. It was hot enough in the afternoon, and I was really slow with my cardiovascular system giving me a bit of trouble like usual. Around 11 p.m. it started to rain, heavily.
With only one pair of running shoes with me I decided to take a nap for 2 or three hours. When I woke up it was still raining – so I slept until 4 a.m. I had not even completed 40 km at that time and knew 80 km would be out of the question. So I decided to at least go for 60 – slow and steady. With the Heidelberg halfmarathon only 2 weeks ago plus a couple of 1-2 hour training runs since middle of April I felt it would equal 80 km.
The massage and medical tent saw me three times – and they really helped me recover from the half marathon. At the end of the race, even though temperatures went up to 24°C again towards Sunday noon, I felt better than at the start – legwise and cardiovascular. With no reason to stop at 60 km I continued – also to please my counters and ended up with 70.5 km. My doctor-friend had done a great job with some homeopathic pills (tuja), alignment of the spine etc. Also the next days I was amazed at the feeling of lightness in my legs. I always say I am a diesel engine – I am not fast, but I feel longer distances are like cleansing for the body and mind/soul, and I actually need them to be myself.
At times I was run-walking with other participants, engaging in friendly conversation. One lap-partner was 72 years old (looking around 60). He gently advised me, from his own experience, how to be able to run faster: “Loosing some weight really helps”, he said compassionately. At 60 his blood pressure had been up to 260, his weight over 100 kg and his doctor had told him either to change is lifestyle or be prepared to hit the grave soon. So he quit smoking and drinking, became a vegetarian and started running. After each ultra he promises himself not to do another one again – but never sticks to this resolution for long. He only did 72 km this due to a very painful heelspur.
But the performances of the “elderly” generation were just amazing at the race. The overall winner at age 50 completed 238 km, the winner for over 60 did 181 km, the one for over 70 (born 1938) did 166 km – amazing. The female winner of my age category did 167, 8 km (my Basel best: 148)! Way to go when I am getting older and will have lost some weight again!