…well, what is the next logical marathon after Paris and Hamburg? Any thoughts? Essex of course! Halstead & Essex to be precise. Just one hour car journey from where I live. And a good old friend will drive me. What more can you ask for. The race is on the 12th of May, relatively small and has a very beautiful course through the finest English countryside. Runnersworld apparently voted it 4th best marathon in UK. Woohoo. But would I need to get a fake tan first and my eyebrows shaped?
Here a picture from Hamburg Fernsehturm were it all began and ended. It ended rather well. Just a few seconds after I crossed the finish line I got a text from the organisers giving me my official time. It’s 3:54:35 – yeah! The run itself was rather hard though, at k15 I already had enough, at k21 I couldn’t see how I possibly can run the same distance again. But then I did it somehow. Really strange experience and it shows that every run can have its own challenges, struggles and victories.
The start line is the finish line and the marathon itself is somewhere in between. A bit like life. Hamburg is my 6th marathon and you would think one gets used to it. But I haven’t yet. Still very nervous and still half an hour to go. Track me on Runkeeper!
Not sure when the thought of doing 12 marathons this year first entered my mind. Maybe when I worked out my plans for preparing for ultramarathons. This whole thing about stepping up 10% in distance each month. I noticed that rather soon I had to do marathon distances as training runs if I am serious about getting the weekly distance under my feet. And why not doing this at different places and with some crowds keeping you company and cheering you on? Exactly, who would say no to that. However, fitting 12 marathons into a year is not the easiest thing, especially when you want to do the nice ones. October somehow seems to be the month of marathons. Got 4 pencilled in for 3 October weekends already, with many others conflicting with the ones I picked. My current favourites are: Budapest, Amsterdam, Venice and Frankfurt. But let’s focus on Hamburg first – I’m on the U1 on my way to Messehallen to collect my race number.
I went to my sister’s house last night, showing off my medal to my nephew and niece. After the usual exchange of niceties, my nephew went straight down to business:
“What place did you do, uncle Roy?” he asked.
I gave a slightly nervous laugh, remembering last year’s conversation about the London marathon, where I tried to get the point across that it does make sense to run a marathon, even if there is no chance of winning it and that it is not about beating others, but to compete with yourself. It seemed to be a very alien concept to a 7 year old boy. However I decided not to sugarcoat it this time and to say how it is.
“16,000th” I said with a hint of embarrassment.
“Out of how many runners?” he asked.
“37,000” I answered.
“But this is very good, uncle Roy, you beat 21,000!”
I didn’t see this coming. Smart kid and not only because he managed to work out 37,000 minus 16,000 in virtually no time.
What a triumph. I don’t know my official time yet, but I am pretty confident that its just under 4 hours. My Runkeeper app says 3:59 and 20 secs – this treacherous little thing: during the whole run I was relying entirely on its average and current pace announcement each kilometre. It was reporting a solid 5:30min/k pace which would have carried me very comfortably in under 4 hours over the finish line. But the announcement proved to be wrong and the triumph of finally having done a marathon under 4 had been on severe risk. Not sure if I would have performed better had I known it. What I do know is that I shouldn’t have started from the end of the 4 hours runners group, which lead to the situation that I permanently had to dodge other runners, which surely didn’t help my time. Therefore I am very, very pleased with the result and hope the official time confirms it.
EDIT: Got the exact time now, it’s 3 hours 58 minutes and 30 seconds. Yeah!
I am slightly obsessed with the idea of online cheering. My friend Michael took advantage out of this by getting an extra boost for his marathon last year. Michael was using the app Runtastic which allows other connected Runtastic friends to click buttons on race day and send cheering noise to Michael’s earphones, while tracking his progress in real time. I want that. But I use Runkeeper. Runkeeper offers the elite membership, which I signed up for (and payed for). Elite members are also offered the real time tracking during the race and somewhere in the small sprint it’s mentioned that friends & family can cheer you. But while the Runkeeper people are explaining in detail and YouTube how the tracking works the technicalities of cheering are mentioned nowhere. Bummer. Anyway, here is the link for tracking. Race starts tomorrow at 8:45 CET. See me there and look out for any cheering options. I will have my earphones plugged in, maybe I will hear you!
Strange how the beginning of a new month comes now with the feeling of a new running challenge. My new year resolution says 10% more distance per week each month. April equals to 79 kilometres per week. It feels like it starts getting serious. Especially with the two marathon races I am planning to do in April: Paris this weekend and Hamburg two weeks later. The good thing about the marathons is, that they shave off 42k of my weekly distances without any extra effort. Yay! The other good thing is that after the a thee weeks of awful and painful runs, it all feels more back to normal. Despite having completed my 72k each week quota for March. It is amazing how your body can adapt, recover and heal while you’re running. You have only to be a bit kind and friendly to yourself. The third encouraging thing is the very good long run I had yesterday, which was 39k, close to marathon distance, and without hitting any walls. If Paris goes as well as yesterday the under 4 hours marathon should be possible. It’s very exciting, bring it on!