Krijtlandpad: all roads lead to Gulpen – third stage

Just a short distance left: 25 km. With a completely different fueling strategy, necessary because of the many hypos in the earlier stages, I was a bit anxious to start.

< Back to the second stage

My plan was to run the whole route in one direction as it should be. But I forgot to take Saturday into account. The first bus from Valkenburg to Gulpen would leave quite late, so I could only start around nine o'clock in the heat. Ergo: the last part I went back to Gulpen, because the train to Maastricht did leave at the right time.

Who thinks that my body had to be totally tired by now, after having already run about 80 kilometres, is wrong. On my watch I always keep track of the resting heart rate. Normally it's between 44 and 48 beats per minute for me. When it is much higher, my body is tired. This day it was slightly higher at 51, but the watch was of to charge at night when I was at full rest. That didn't seem too bad, because if you miss the most serene moment and start the day in a hurry, you can expect a few extra beats. By the way, the resting heart rate was 46 again the day after this stage. Tiredness wouldn't be the challenge today. The challenge would be mainly in preventing another day filled with hypos.

‘Sober’

In recent years, my strategy of taking a little less insulin and eating regularly during a long run worked very well. I've had several runs at 6-7 mmol/l during the whole tour. But after the experiences during the first and second stage something had to change. Strengthened by the story of Bas van de Goor I decide to go for a sober start. Van de Goor is a professional volleyball player with type 1 who won a gold medal at the Olympics, and with his Bas van de Goor Foundation he is trying to get diabetics to play sports. So he knows how to get off to a good start, but starting sober makes me anxious as well. Above all, I find it difficult to accept something from someone who says he doesn't eat during a marathon and forgets to count 1.5 packs of dextro because it's not a gel; fuel is all about counting carbohydrates, the fuel form is an afterthought. In 32 years of diabetes I've also seen enough nonsense and besides, I know that what works for one person doesn't always work out well for another. The feeling of hunger due to skipping breakfast was also something I was not too keen on.

However, there was something to be said for this strategy. The theory is that insulin just before exercise is 2-3 times more effective, which could explain the many hypos of the first stages. In addition, there was insulin on board to convert sugars: the Tresiba continues to work and that's almost half of my insulin (18 Tresiba, 8-8-8 Fiasp). I also didn't go for completely sober, but started with 500 ml Ucan superstarch. That starch breaks down slowly (1.5-2.5 hours starting at half an hour after drinking it) so the blood sugar remains more stable. With these settings, eating in the first 2 hours would probably not be necessary.

Because of the Ucan, the blood sugar rose slowly before the start. Luckily not too high, even though I had no idea how the blood sugars would work out without short-term insulin. One of the fears of my specific approach was that I would start very high due to lack of insulin. As a result, you get thirsty and your muscles cramp. Something that can throw you of on a long distance.

Bus lane

Regularly measuring the blood sugars I left again from the train station at Maastricht. The legs felt good, there was energy, the blood sugar was relatively high but not extreme (I function best between 6 and 8 mmol/l; 5 or lower means a direct drop in speed). According to the Facebook group of the Krijtlandpad, this part around Maastricht was the most boring part of the whole route and you might as well take the bus.

The first 3 kilometers the warnings made sense. I had to run on some kind of bus lane between two roads. But it wasn't a bus lane, it was a very wide road made of the same loam with hard stones that you find on the narrow roads between the hills. The fact that it was so extremely wide and went through a boring neighbourhood made the road look out of place. However, I soon left the city and was again greeted by the sloping potato and grain fields. I thought the classification as a boring piece was a bit unjustified. Especially when I went a few kilometers further to the beautiful marl quarry near the Geulhemmerberg with its shades of yellow and red.

The quarry itself should have a total of 25 km of tunnels. During the Second World War, the Germans used these corridors as a safe place to produce engines for the V1 rocket. And until 1900 people still lived in cave dwellings in the area. It's amazing that a natural monument like this simply exists in the Netherlands. The fact that it has been a tourist attraction for more than a century is less surprising.

Valkenburg

Just to be sure, I had included my hotel in today's itinerary. If extra stuff was needed, or if I was fed up with the whole tour, I could always stop there. But it wasn't necessary. My running was a lot stronger this day and easier than during the first two stages. This was completely due to the blood sugars. They were a bit too high all the time (9-10 mmol/l) but I could just keep on running until after 2.5 hours the Ucan had worn off. Without having to take additional food or sports drink – except for a few sips. The feeling of hunger wasn't too bad, so with a bit of finetuning I would definitely try this regime again.

I already knew a large part of the route around Valkenburg from the castle walk. Again I found myself climbing to the Wilhelminatoren and running through the forest. The first real stop I made was at the orchid garden in the Gerendal (Geren Valley). Unfortunately – orchids fascinate me – the garden is closed, but on a bench I can quietly reapply the sunscreen. Although it is humid, it seems less warm during the last stage. Or is it because of the newer model Odlo-shirt which is much thinner than the old Ceramicool? The reality is that I started with 24 C and finished at 31 C.

Finished and ready for the next challenge: cherry flan.

Because of the limestone soil the Gerendal is a flower oasis, even though most of the flowers had already ceased blossoming, it was very green. Again a pleasure to run. Alas, in the distance the now familiar hills of Gulpen loomed up again. And I was disappointed. This part went too easy and was over too soon. It was only 11 o'clock in the morning!

Cooling down

In the evening I had a nice walk in the area. Again with a route from Visit Zuid-Limburg, this time I did the altitude hike, which I had cut in two. Before leaving on Sunday I would visit the hill castle and walk the second part of that route.

Always special how you look at a distance in awe weeks in advance and then are disappointed when it's over. I could have walked for days to feel my legs. Only after the resting Monday, I started to feel my feet. They were dry and there was one blister on both feet. I don't know if it came from walking, or from sliding over the stones in the brooks (and leaving out the rock plate). But the body is clearly stronger than the spirit here.

Done: 24.16 km, 378 hm, 3 hours 44 minutes and 41 seconds.