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50km for 50th birthday...

On January 21, I turned 50 …

Usually when I celebrated special birthdays like 20s, 30s or 40s, there used to be friends by the dozen, beers, etc. by hundreds, etc, etc … I guess you got it…

But this year, it’s impossible to have a fifties party, since it is clearly more the quarantine that is fashion …

 

But I still wanted to make this day a special one. It is more than certain that I will not be a 2nd time exactly 50 years old …

I have had that in my mind for 2–3 months, during my runs. It was coming and going… and it ended up going away : it’s too much, let it go, sure you’ll get injury, especially without any specific training … my last marathon dating from April 2019.

But 3 days before, suddenly, running through the night, it came back. Very clear. I had to do it. Running 50km for my 50th birthday, on that very day, nevermind if it’s in 3 days only.

So I ate pasta, spent 2 days without running, and planned a route.

And on the morning of January 21st, I took the train, and rode away about 50km from home, with my backpack, 2 liters of water, half a liter of isotonic drink, 3–4 cereal bars, 3–4 fruit jellies, a windbreaker and gloves.

Strangely without stress. I didn’t have a time target. I just wanted to walk as little as possible …

First goal : not to run too fast, not to exceed 11km/h to go the distance. And I stick to it. I am amazed to be so disciplined, because I feel great, and the conditions are perfect.

10km along Lake Geneva to begin with, I can see the Dents-du-Midi Range in the distance, at the foot of which my route ends. I meet a giant fork stuck in the soup, Freddie Mercury, and the Chillon Castle…

I cross the Rhône plain and the Grangettes reserve, before crossing the river on a magnificent metal bridge where I stop once again to take pictures that I already have by the dozen… I run the half-marathon mark, in a little less than 2 hours, at Bouveret, at the western end of the lake (that’s where my stupid project should end).

I’m happy to keep up with the pace I set for myself, slow, but I convince myself that I have no other option to go the distance.

25km… I get a magnificent runner’s high, running along the banks of the Rhône to the Porte du Scex Castle, totally alone, singing at the top of my lungs, but I manage not to accelerate too much… The confidence is huge, I don’t have any doubts…

It was after the thirtieth, in the plain, near the small town of Aigle, that it started to be harder. I put that on the rising wind, head on. Logic. But I know it’s not just that. Leaving the city, after 36km, I feel that this is where it really starts… I have no doubts, but I am starting to suffer… I walk about fifty meters during the 38th km, and a horse seems to be laughing at me… I notice that I lose my lucidity when I am convinced that I will run a sub 4h marathon, when I have 3 km and 13 minutes left… Unable to calculate correctly. Bad sign. But it makes me laugh more than despair …

I arrive at Illarsaz, km 42, and there, on another bridge over the Rhône, I have the pleasure of seeing Silvia my lover, and my friend Stéphane, who have been waiting for me for 40 minutes, to surprise me with some suport at this key moment. I have a little tear in my eye when I recognize them… but I’ll manage to dry it before I reach them… otherwise, I would have cracked… Very cool little 4–5 minute break with them. My legs hurt and don’t have a lot of energy anymore, yet I already know I’ll make it through. Their presence don’t need to convince me …

But when I leave, I need less than 1km to realize that it will be complicated. I pass the marathon mark in 4h06, but my legs hurt terribly… I can barely reach 9 km/h, then 8… I see my 2 supporters again, less than 4 km from the finish… I walk 2–3 times, I trot painfully at a poor 7.5–8km/h pace. There’s nothing left in my legs, my calves are hurting… and I’m a little fed up, but it’s okay…

I run through Monthey, where I run so regularly, like a turtle, happy that no one recognizes me, and no one knows why I am limping along …

I love that feeling of being “apart”.

And there I am, I arrive at the train station, from where I left this morning … 5h10 of run (effective run).

The 50km (50.6) are done. In the legs, in the head, in the heart.

I am proud, but serene, without particular excitement. I made this day special, I will not forget it, although I would have liked to share it otherwise …

I’m very glad I did, and at the same time, I find it rather ridiculous and pointless, but it amuses me …

Doing it again regularly? I don’t know … I don’t think I was made for such long efforts, and the last 10km have been really hard…

But it gave me confidence for my stupid project.

I could go for 35km without too much concern, with my 4.2kg bag on my back, once again… I will cross this Switzerland… and as I suspect, and today confirmed it, that the mental fatigue will surely be more hard to deal with than physical fatigue, and the effort itself …

To make it short, I had a happy birthday, and, thank you so much to my 2 supporters, YOU ARE GREAT !! …

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