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Pre 1997

My first race, Namen, 1991 (1.5-40-10)

After a couple of months of somewhat regular swimming, running and cycling, I started my very first race in August 1991. In the few years before the race I regularly cycled with my brother. When we did that, it was always some kind of time trial. Our "training" always consisted of just doing one of our training courses as quick as possible. Little did I know then that this is not ideal training.

Anyway, the cycling I had done for years, and swimming and running were sports I liked as well. I had never really done any competition sports (though at school I sometimes did some running races (primary school), or volleybal (secondary)). I also tried a road race once. I think I was too young to be allowed. At the beginning of the second lap (of many), I was shortly at the head of the race when I was passed by a couple of guys. When I looked back, it seemed I was passed by the lot of them. Oh well, I tried to catch them again, but that didn't work. So when we passed our house again, I quit. Have to admit that the first lap in the group wasn't that pleasing. I mean, they were riding very close to me, and I like to have a bit of space.

But back to my first race. The course in Namen in quite challenging. There are two bike laps, with two hills in each. The run is about 1.5km flat, then up a hill to the turning point and back. Swimming is a bit easier, as you are swimming in a river with current.

The swim went quite well. OK, so it is a good idea to practice open water swimming, particularly sighting. Each time I wanted to see where I was going, I had to do a couple of breast strokes. The cycling was pretty tough, especially at the beginning as you start the first climb almost immediately. Everything really started a bit later, after the last transition. Why oh why didn't I ever try running off the bike before, it would have been useful. My legs felt pretty heavy and after a half kilometer, I started to get stumach cramps (these days I know better what not to eat before the race). I really felt bad and wanted to quit. Fortunately there was a couple looking at the race who told me that I couldn't just give up and had to try to finish the race. So with these encouragements under my belt, I continued. The stomach cramps never really disappeared, and it really hurt when running downhill, as the pain shot up with each step.

But I did it, I finished in 2h45'35" (that time I remember, I don't know my finish time for any other race). The first of many races. I knew this was something for me, so the next year, I started doing lots of races. Didn't know a lot about training etc, but "things can only get better" (d-ream).

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