Julsø Ultra 60km
|Himmelbjerget at about 17km|
Julsø Ultra was my second ultra-race, my first race was Rosenhøj Trail 53km in September 2020. That race was 5 laps of +10k, so very different than Julsø, which was one long route of almost 60km.
My training up to the race had be great, however, race day May 1st was also going to be my first day of unemployment. My stress level was sky high, and my self-esteem from countless of job rejections was extremely low. Bottomline, I could not handle another failure and not living up to my own (or others’) expectations. I was very clear leading up to the race, that this race was not for the podium or placement, this was for ME and ME only. I did not need anyone else’s expectations, I had enough pressure from myself.
Thursday and Friday before the race, my back started giving me trouble. I’ve had it before, and knew that if I push my heart rate, then my ribcage would start hurting as my lungs cannot expand enough, and I won’t be able to run (tried that once before, not fun😒). Suddenly 60km seemed even longer than before.
On the morning of the race, I was scared – scared that I would fail! I considered not running, however, bestie Lena had come to Jylland with me, we spent money on hotel and ferries. I couldn’t just say, “I am scared I am going to fail – I won’t run”. So I went to the start area, determined to stick to my race plan:
- Stay in heart rate zone 2 on all flat trails
- Run for ME not podium or placement - just finish the race.
Perhaps I was a little too relaxed and beside myself, as 5 minutes before start I realize that I left my drop bag (half of my energy intake for the race, that would be delivered to the 2nd aid station) in the car😅 So had to run to the car and find it, and I had decided I didn't need any warm up for a 60km race - well the jokes on me!
The race started, and people ran like crazy! I focused on me and my running. Many runners passed me, but I knew I had to stick to my plan, if I were to make it through. I had a little tail of men after me for the first 10km ish, 2 passed me and the rest took a break (at least that’s what I heard them say😄). I kept running, thinking “60km is reeeeeaaaaally long”.
At about 17km my ribcage started tightening, and I knew I had to be careful and not push my heart rate too much, as that could mean it would start hurting – and if I got to there, I know there is nothing I can do to make it stop. I was so scared, I was going to fail.
Should I just quit?
When I was running towards the second aid station at 27km, I started thinking and debating with myself; “maybe I should just stop? No, you can’t stop when you don’t have any reason to! Okay, you can stop if you are in serious pain or you get injured.” I have dropped out of two races before, both OCR races. One time was due to collapsing with hypothermia and the other because I broke my left wrist when I fell from an obstacle. And as long as I could run I had no excuse to drop out. Me, myself, and I agreed on that, and then that was the end of the quitting discussion.
I continued towards Ry and the second aid station. It got to a flat bit, where I could push my pace and focus on finding a good flow. When I got to the aid station, I filled up my water, grabbed a banana and almost forgot my drop bag with my gels (AGAIN!😆), luckily Lena was there to remind me.
Lena told me that the leading female left the aid station about 5 minutes ago, and I just started going “NO, NO, NO, I don’t wanna know. It doesn’t matter!”.
Off I went, running while trying to eat my banana. I asked Lena, why we think these kind of races were fun, as fun wasn't the first word that came to my mind at that time. She didn’t really have an answer to that (and she is signed up for a 100k dessert race😲). I just kept running; powerwalking uphill was okay, however, I had to run on flats and downhill. that was my rule and I stuck to that!
|Life was getting tough|
I started to get tired around 33km ish, but I still managed to pass a few other runners. When I got to about 37-38km I saw what looked like the leading female. That excited me for the first time during the race. However, I quickly stopped myself, forcing myself to focus on keeping my pace and stick to my race plan, it was too early to go all out, as we had more than 20km to the finishline, so I kept to my heart rate zone and contiuned running.
Does it take 40km to warm up?
At 39km though she was right in front of me, I passed her up a hill, and just kept focus on my heart rate and my race. But suddenly my mindset changed. I was happy! I felt like ME! I hadn’t felt like me in a very long time. From applying for jobs and getting hit with one rejection after another I was suddenly in charge of my race, there was something that I could do and I felt strong! I truly enjoyed it and had a BIG smile on my face (at least, that’t how I felt).
I kept to my race plan, I started passing everyone I met, no one tried to hang on. I knew the only one who could mess it up for me, was me. I kept running, got to the third aid station, filled up my water bottles, I felt happy and energized, people cheered, and it was fun😀
|After the 3rd aid station|
The kilometers started feeling very long all of a sudden, I felt like I had done 2km and it was only 500m. It felt like the hills on the north side of the lake was on repeat, they kept coming; up and down, up and down! I recognized part of the landscape from my trip to Silkeborg last year, and remembered there were countless of hills.
I wasn’t scared about my ribcage any longer, I had come this far, I could make it to the end. However, I still knew that I could mess it up for myself. It’s only 6 months ago I almost threw away a win at a 21k trail race in Møn because I twisted my ankle pretty bad running down stairs (I held on to the win with 6 seconds). So on every downhill, I kept thinking “don’t fuck it up! Don’t do a Møn! Keep focus!”.
Suddenly I was out of the forest about to cross the bridge over the lake; the finish line was getting closer. I started pushing my pace through the streets of Silkeborg. I saw a runner in front of me with long ish hair and thought “is there a woman in front of me? No that doesn’t look like a woman. Or is it?” I realized it was all good, it was a male runner😁 I kept running, and my pace increased, I had a good flow.
Suddenly, I saw Lena who had disappeared for the last 25km when everything was fun😄. The route was taking a right turn meaning, the finish line was just up the hill. So I ran and I kept pushing, making the corner seeing the finish line and crossing it after 6 hours and 36 seconds!
As we had started in heats, I wasn’t sure if I had won, but I knew I gave it my all, I felt happy, but more important, I was proud of myself and felt like me again. At one point during the last 20km I actually thought “I am going to cry if I win” – turns out I didn’t, I just laughed and was truly happy for a little while.
After applying for jobs for so long, getting so many rejections I needed a win. I needed to prove to myself that I am not worthless, but that I can do things I set my mind to, like struggling through 40km only to enjoy the last 20km of a 60km race.
|The post run happy feeling|
Some races and some wins mean more than others, this is a win I personally needed desperately. However, it is also my longest race, and I stuck to me race plan and it paid off. And that is what makes me truly prouf of myself!
And like many other runners, I have already signed up for my next 60km race😀
Before the race I bought a new Salomon Women’s Sense Pro 5 which has the longer straws. I hoped this would help me drink more during my run, as with the old bottles and hydro vests, I am really bad at drinking, unless I have the bottle in my hand. However, the long straws made it so much easier to drink, though, as many other runners, I was quickly behind on my fluid intake.
During the race, my energy intake was:
- 6 x High5 Aqua gels at about every 45th minute (2 with caffein, 4 without)
- 2,5 bananas (from aid stations)
- Lots of dextrose (this is perfect when you don’t feel like eating og taking gels)
- 1 tiny bite of an oat bar (that was a waste of energy carrying them and my chews)
- 2x500ml PurePower Carbo Race Raspberry
- 1,5 water (from aid stations)
- 5 Salt tablets (one every hour)
- 2 caffeein pills
I have tried many gels, however, this setup works for me. None of the products are sponsored, this is just what I have tested, and through trial and error have learned works for me😊
|The 57,6km route, going from southeast and the back north around the lake|
|Total elevation came to 1443m|