Ultrabalaton relay in pair – 220 km, 110 km per person. 19: 16.02 (with an average of 5:15 pace)
We won the women’s doubles category, but what we are even more proud of is that just a team of male pairs have passed us out a total of 104 starting pairs!
Edina Simon is an accomplished ultra runner and it was a great honor for havig her as a running partner. Our mentor was Zsuzsi Maráz, who we both like and respect very much. In November, at Lake Garda I ran a half marathon with Zsuzsi when I told her I was planning to go back on Ultrabalaton (UB) and look for a girl party. His idea was Edina, who already had a team entry, but for other reasons, her pair cancelled the participation. After a telephone interview, we decided to go.
We didn’t know each other, but the fact that both of us were born in Salgótarján and spent our childhood there had brought us closer. That’s why our team name was inspired by this: SALGÓTARLYÁNYOK.
Edina was also very good in many ultra races, and I was a little bit excited about being able to grow up to her in a more or less ultra distance. The situation is that I have not run longer distance at the same time than marathon in my life. However, I had a little bit in advantage to have UB twice in 2014 (we were second in female pairs) and in 2016 in mixed pairs. Edina has just started in trio on Ultrabalaton. Running ultra distances in multiple etaps is a special category between marathon and ultra running. Based on my experiences, we broke down the distance into smaller sections, and we also received this advice from our “mentor” Zsuzsi Maráz. So, on the one hand, we can be faster, and on the other hand, my ultra-deficiency can be better compensated, and thirdly, I have been running so far and it was a good strategy even then.
This year we had a total of 49 switching points, which we divided into 28 sections, so we had 14-14 sections equally, and we divided the whole distance to 110-110 kilometers for the first run! We only switched at the switching points, except once when Edina was not there, so we switched 2 kms later off the road. (this year it was allowed by the competition rules – I would not have liked to run another 10 to the next switching point!) Except for this gig, we were perfectly on schedule. (photo attached)
Our concept was that Edina would run more elevation, because after my long winter break she was stronger and more trained. I am grateful for Edina for took on this ungrateful task. (the statistics at the end of the post also show the level difference)
The opinions are divided because there are those who claim that it is easier to run 110 km at a time or in longer distances than to start 14 times, after the foot gets low, the body relaxes. I haven’t tried the first version, so I can’t make an opinion, but I don’t feel like running longer distance than marathon at a time. 😊
I think everything went very smooth with Edina, she is not a hysterical type, neither am I. We do our job without words. Edina is very thorough, accurate and a woman of numbers. So we’ve made all kinds of tables before, and he’s been planning it in a harsh way. That part of me is more ad-hoc.
The team that supported us deserves a special chapter. Here we have splendidly assigned tasks too:
Sanyi, Edina’s partner was our car attendant, he was responsible for always getting to the switch points. This is a lot of pressure, but Sanyi has delivered us calmly and reliably. It is very important to have such a calm personality among the supporters. The camper was also a huge idea from them. We rented a dormitory that greatly increased our comfort. We were able to relax, we had a fridge, and we could even have a shower. But for face washing, cleaning ourselves every time. Dressing up is also much easier this way. I think this also added a lot to my fresh start to the distances, always in new dry clothes.
Andi was the “babysitter” at the back of the caravan. She had to prepare Edina’s refreshment all the time – I just called witchcraft, and she had to put on my dry clothes according to the weather and take the sink off the road. I didn’t make a big fuss of the refreshment, Edina of dressing…… no comment, both of us gave ourselves! Andi, of course, served me all the time, based on what I wanted. It was also her job to tell us how much rest we had and how long the next stage was, and to walk to the switching point in time, including a small move. Not an easy task, it was a constant spin. She did it perfectly!
And here’s my Peti. Perhaps he had the hardest task to cycle 220 kilometers without stopping at an average speed of 5:15. On bicycle this is not a pleasant task and not a small pain of lower body. I didn’t say a word to him, was just listening to music and running introspectively. Edina chatted with him more as he told me. 😊In the evening he was freezing into a cube cause of being slow, cold and tired. It was his job to refresh us on the way and to restrain me personally in the first half of the distance so that I could handle the second half. I am very grateful for this because I slowed down anyway strongly for the last sections (averages over 5:30).
It was not ideal, but it is very rarely, and could have been much worse. A week before, the wind raging on my trial run and it just got away from us (the next day it came on the rack, so weather was nice to us!). That’s the most important thing in my opinion. We were constantly looking at the weather forecast before, but almost nothing came out of it, just the nighttime rain. During the day we had uninvitedly warm, sunny weather, that’s obviously not ideal at this time. As the sun went down, from late afternoon, I think the weather was perfect, unfortunately, the last 50 kilometers was a little spoiled by the night rain. We got pretty much everything, but UB is just like this! But I’m really grateful for the windlessness, because I think it’s the weather factor that can get the most out of the runner!
During the day a nonexpected hit and sunshine came, from 11:00 pm it has started to rain!
About the route
The distance was the same, the route also, but it started from another place as before. (So far from Balatonaliga, this year Balatonfüred, which is 49 km difference, about a quarter of the distance shift). At first sight, this is not a big difference, even though it is a recurring route, but if you run it you can feel very much. If it were all flat, it wouldn’t be as striking as it might be, but the terrain waves along Lake Balaton. So far, in the first half of the distance, one was beyond the hilly etap between Aliga-Füred and the sharp strech of Aszófő-Badacsony. Right now we started with the mountain, but we closed with hills. Though the mountain is not preceded by the hilly section, but it does matter whether the road rises when you are tired at night, in poor visibility, or when the feet are still relatively fresh. For me personally, this lineup was harder than “pulling ourselves” to the finish at night. Although it sure is very individual. This is why it is important that the UB can never be compared to previous years, even if it does not change in the distance.
In addition, who runs the UB many times, is standing on a certain psychic track, regarding tot he stages and sections. To be more understandable: Keszthely has been up to half of the distance so far and started to darken. Now Keszthely was only one third of the distance and was still clear. So there is a burned path that has shifted now. It is like a jetlag, or as a badly innervated automated movement that needs to be trained. It is deceptive and requires a mental shift, which, in a long monotonous run, puts a new challenge. And for a non-first-person individual, this could have meant a greater difference!
Sometimes I ’argue’ with some runners whether running is fair or not. So far, I was on the opinion that not because you put so much effort in it, it develops a little. Then you miss a bit and drops a lot. But now I am changing my point of view, suddenly you go down, but the work done is not lost, there is somewhere, and the body does not let you down. I’ve tried this now.
As far as my preparation is concerned, I am honestly satisfied with myself. In 2018, I had two cancer preventing breast surgeries, which required relatively long regeneration. I had to skip one month and a half after the surgery in March, and in December there was a complication after the surgery, so there was a total of two months of inactivity. An additional month, as I call it, was a tingl-tangle run due to regeneration and precaution because of flu before surgery. So I can declare that December-January-February, as the winter foundation was completely missing. This was a big ripe cut. I was worried at the end of February when I ran 5-7 kilometers, panting at 5:30 to see how UB would be. In addition, not only at the performance level! Edina is conscious, she’s doing a lot, she wants to achieve good results, and obviously it is never good if there is too much difference in preparedness within the team. We all resembled them. That’s why it was important to myself that even if I didn’t get to my level completely, but I would bring my form back. I had two and a half months. In addition, I believe in gradual approach!
I did it consciously, slowly, during training for triathlon too, because in the spring my association is counting on me in team competitions. But maybe the cross-trainings (swimming, cycling, bodybuilding) have helped make my stamina come back without having to overload myself with running. I ran five times a week in average. March was about rising from the plane with weekly frequency, tempo and distance lifting. Since the end of March, I have run intervals again, I went to the field, but at the long weekend runs I didn’t ran more than 25 km at a time. I was trying to counter this by practicing a lot of the two runs of the day at the same traveling pace (about 5 minutes) in the last three weeks. 12 years of continuous training obviously counted a lot in that, without the lack of a winter foundation, I was able to prepare for this challenge in two and a half months. However, for a beginner runner, I do not recommend that someone start with a couple of months of preparation for the even challenge! I consider it important to highlight this. In 2014, when I first started, the race was preceded by serious winter long foundation runs, and it was already 7 years in my leg, 4 years of more conscious training.
About the plan:
Man proposes, God disposes. It is very difficult to predict time for such a long distance, but you have to formulate a goal. It was necessary to take into account the UB policy (with which I fully agree) that we could not give slower total time with a difference of 10%. So we were more daring. Edina planned a 4:50 pace, me 5:10 case, the plan was 18:20, what we underachieve with almost an hour. Edina’s average pace was 5:11 (with several levels !!!), mine 5:18, so the 5: 15 average pace of the race comes out. The ideal course would be to keep up the pace, but this requires much more routine, I think a natural slowdown in this distance is almost impossible to eliminate. In the last quarter we both performed over 5:30 pace depending ont he level of the section, but during the whole race 5:55 pace was the slowest pace section for both of us. We are terribly proud of this.
Food is not my strength. Neither as a civilian nor as a runner. I’ve never dealt with it so much, now neither. This is a great mistake in this distance. In the evening before, I ate oat with milk for carbohydrate filling. It’s been something that I took a salt tablet with caffeine at night! One during each run. At night approx. I consumed 4 caffeine salts. But there was nothing slipping between the last stages. Peti swears to Maurten. In the last few weeks I have tried it during my runs, I had no trouble with it, so he always gave me three sips four times in an hour.
In addition, I drank smooth water or lemon water during running and between sections. No gel! In the second half I drank Cola Light. I know it should have been sweet, but I just don’t like the taste, I never drink. I didn’t risk it. I wanted apple once and orange more times. Obviously this meant a slice each time. I once ate a slice of cheese and a Kinder chocolate. In the evening before, I cooked oat porrage, spooned it, and also eat some bite of bread, but at the last stages nothing went down on my throat. I didn’t have a strong stomach problem, but I didn’t want anything. I thought of Maráz Zsu’s report when she said that the ultra is the winner in the tournament who can digest. And since everything is working better at the start of the race, you have to eat and eat well in the first half and you can perform better in the end. I thought about that, and in the first half, I chuckled when I didn’t want to, and in the end I didn’t worry so much that I didn’t want to eat. Of course I did not become an ultra cause of this, only relying on the experience of a great ultra runner. I also ate psyllium husk with two portions (tablespoons), I really believe in it! It protects from acidification and helps digestion.
Two hours of talk with the sports psychologist helped in the preparation. I’ve never done that before, but I think it contributes to performance! We drew the route on a large sheet, marked my sections, and separately my most difficult sections in red. I tried them out one week before the race at the same time with the same number of rest. That meant four stages, I ran two on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning. Of course, this does not simulate the level of fatigue during the race, but it still burns in the brain and the runner can run the race more comfortably ont he well-known route even if she’s tired. The magic of the “home” track.
We also talked about 10-15 minutes of meditation spent in rest periods. Obviously I’m not practiced, so I couldn’t do autogenous training, but I tried to take some rest in the breaks. I pulled the back of the caravan, leaned horizontally, wrapped up, closed my eyes, and tried to relax, slow down my thoughts and calm down. I just told Andi: now I “agonize” for 10 minutes! Some time it went better, some time less, but overall I think it had counted a lot.
We were excited at the beginning. I was more excited than usual because it was a big bite. I was worried about the lack of a winter foundation, but I felt that it would go in the last two weeks. The question was how. What was I thinking about while running?
About Helga, with whom I ran my first pair in 2014, won second place. That’s why I started off for example in that UB T-shirt. Our name was UB RH +! Very, very good memory, and! It is special because I have a picture where Zsu is on the podium with her pair on the third place. At that times she started… she is quite good since then?! 😊😊The experience gained in the competition there helped a lot.
2014 – with Helga (UB RH+) 2019 – with Edina (Salgótarlyányok)
To Edina, how important this is to her and she cannot be disappointed. I thought about her the most. My mom, how proud she would be. I put her picture in the van, and I glanced at it many times.
I thought about my loved ones, my partner, my kids, my dad, my friends. I even sent a voice message for Hangi, though I speak very little while running. I thought of my POLAR team, who were running on the field, I was there and got excited about them!
To my followers who believe in me, who are watching out for those who support from far away.
For myself, how much power will it give again for a while if I succeed and if I succeed well.
Music helped a lot. I listened to it all the time. Same 15 songs. This is what the sports psychologist said. I’ve been listening the same music on trainings since the Wizz Air half marathon last year. This is supposed to help in monotonous sports.
Nothing. Nothing permanent. I’ve always been streching in the rest time and I moved my body through right before I started. I have muscle fever a day later, but nothing special. I can walk, squat, run, go down the stairs without robot movements. I have stronger than average muscle fever in the thigh tensioner, smaller in the bend and normal in the calf. I have a small muscle fever in my arms and abs. My knees don’t hurt, my hips don’t hurt, my feet don’t hurt. I don’t have a piece of water or blood blisters. Only one of my toes was pressed, but I’m not sure I lose it either. The run was very gracious to me now.
How do I close my story? There were many memorable moments during the tournament, but maybe what an anecdote would be like: I ran to my last 8.5 km section at Balatonalmadi. I wasn’t expecting I was trying to do business with Edina to get the first 2.8 kilos in exchange for I was running more after the Varga Winery. But she was ’dead’ enough, her knee hurted and otherwise she ran a lot more hills, so she was less able to bargain at this stage of the race. I didn’t insist, I clenched my teeth and pushed it in 5:55. I ran-ran… once I put the question to Peti poetically:
“Shit… how long does this ascend last?” Beside me, Peti rolled up with his bike without a using the pedals: “Sweetheart, it’s been gone down for a while.” That’s all about the UB!
And the expressive numbers:
(Edina is the woman of the numbers, with this collection I wanted to please her primarily, but otherwise contains interesting information):
The distance: 220.1 km (We split up exactly, but I had to run 2 kms more in one section because we couldn’t meet at the switch point: 111.9 km Réka / 108.2 km Edina)
- Edina: 9 hours 24 minutes
- Reka: 9 hours 52 minutes
Calories burned (according to my watch): 6024 kcal
Start Time: 8:36:48
Target Time: 03:52:50
Number of official checkpoints: 49
Number of sections distributed by us: 28 (14 Reka / 14 Edina)
Number of changes: 27
Average pace: 5:15
- Edina’s average pace: 5:11
- Reka’s average pace: 5:18
- Total ascend: 1364 (Edina 807 / Réka 557)
- Total descend: 1361 (Edina 609 / Réka 752)
Number of participating pairs: 104
- 93 men (81 finished)
- 11 women (9 finished)
- Women’s doubles: 1. Ranked out of 11 participating teams
- Absolute odds: 2. Place / 104 teams left
- Absolute Eleven teams (from 2 to 13 members) out of 108 teams / 12th place out of all female teams
o Three trios
o Three to 5-member teams
o one 8-member team
o one 9-member team
o two 11-member teams
o 12 people
- Absolute (from 2 to 13 members) of all 1,500 teams started: 135th place
Difference to other Pairs:
- Women’s second place: + 1:01:26
- Women’s third place: +1: 42: 58
- Men’s First Place: -1: 15: 00
- Men’s second place: +00: 02: 57
- Male third: +00: 17: 38