Swiss Jura Marathon Day 2
After another fairly restless night I get up feeling fit and prepare electrolyte bottles for the day. Two big spoons of barley grass powder mixed with 250 ml of coconut water, 250 ml of water and one teaspoon of agave nectar makes up one bottle of 7% solution.
I time my breakfast around 5.45. People come and go so that I never chat to the same person twice. Out of curiosity I get asked what's in that silver sachet. Instead of Bircher Muesli, a traditional Swiss breakfast dish made of fruit, oats and milk I make do with my porridge mixed with water and topped with dried apricots and goji berries. I find that milk upsets my stomach and therefore also skip the soy milk in my coffee.
It's a mad rush between 6 and 6.45 because we have to turn up at the start to get the race numbers checked. Personal luggage, extra food and clothes for the checkpoints need to be dropped off by 6.15.
On time, we're off and the first few miles lead up through the village of Saint-Cergue. The roads and paths are still soaking wet from last night's rain.
I take it easy on the first short descent while my muscles take their time to warm up. Usually after about an hour I tend to find my rhythm when suddenly it feels like a switch has been turned on. After five miles the uneven way through a meadow continues and the field of runners already starts to separate. Time to slowly ease into the first uphill part of today's very undulating profile.
The path to the top of this hill is nearly four miles long. Green grass, a fairly angry sky and grey rocks as far as the eye can see.
I really need to watch my step here. There are potholes everywhere which makes it difficult to run freely with a nice stride. Still, I keep my focus on drinking water every fifteen minutes and grab my first electrolyte bottle at the first checkpoint.
The highest point today is the Mont Tendre at nearly 1700 meters. Nature at its best sums it up when I look around me whilst running along or hiking up very steep ascents up a grazing land. Clouds move in while the temperatures remain ideal for running.
The stubborn cattle, Swiss cows with huge bells around their necks, isn't too bothered when I quickly approach them so that I decide to go around rather than challenge them. To me, hearing the sound of those bells is very comforting and remind me of home.
Would I have ever thought that I would appreciate the beauty of this country so much one day before moving here two years ago?
Back to concentrating on my rhythm. The way continues to be sprinkled with even bigger rocks now, my knees and ankles cope well with the terrain and for the first time I notice that this is definitely a point where months of stability and core training pay off.
As I run along, my mind suddenly starts to drift and I have difficulty keeping my concentration. I am now in group of men and have to watch the markings along the route. Promptly, Cecile and Katja who were slightly ahead of us, get lost and I shout them back.
Three summits have to be climbed until I eventually reach the top of Mont Tendre surrounded by fog and mist. Still, the tranquil atmosphere is amazing and pure.
On the six-mile long descent I take my time again and finally reach a concrete path that goes gently up and down. I can feel my thighs and put effort in again on the uphills. I am now joined by Nicola and we enjoy the soft trail through the woods passing some runners from the 175 km category.
From the far distance I can finally spot Le Sentier, today's destination. Nicola passes me and I decide to save some energy by running the same pace as before. About a mile before the finish Wilma, a Dutch runner, cruises past and we all finish within three or four minutes of each other.
This is serious competition! I start to realise that I want to work my way up in the rankings. Patience is the key, as my husband would say now.
I am happily greeted by Britta and her husband Dirk, who simply enjoy being in an environment of ultrarunners. They used to organise long multi-stage races themselves, are experienced in crewing and finishing ultramarathons. Britta hands me a green smoothie and drops some more goodies by my sleeping mat.
The sun is shining and temperatures rise to about 25°C. Time for my massage with Urs again, eat, rest, read and listen to some music. That's pretty much the routine for the remaining days of the race.
While I enjoy being dressed in sports clothes for a week, some people get actually dressed up in jeans, shirts and 'normal' shoes and go for longer walks in the afternoon.
In the evening, I listen to a 'Peak Performance'paraliminal. The soothing sound of the voice activates certain areas of both hemispheres of the brain. I discovered the power of paraliminals about nine months ago and swear by the effects.
Tomorrow's route looks interesting. It's not only the longest stage of 35 miles but a fairly hilly profile again. I can't wait to get to the top of the Chasseron near the end, a famous mountain top on the Jura mountain chain.
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