It’s the first marathon where I had a proper photographer at my side, with press pass and all sorts. He had two very impressive cameras around his neck and I actually spotted him around kilometre 10, while I was still fresh and jolly.
(Well, the wrinkles around my eyes tell a different story, but that’s probably not running related.) And then there is this surprise picture just after the start.
Mirko, the photographer, took a lot more pictures and I have to say, they really reflect the atmosphere and capture the spirit of the event (especially the wet surfaces everywhere – yes, we did have rain). Check out his page: news-photo.de
This is one of my favorites:
The odds seemed to be against me: the Monday before the marathon I realised it can’t go on like this. The pain in my left hip area got worse over days. Funnily enough it was not too bad during running, but increasingly worse when I wasn’t. I decided to have a running break. So I did not run for 5 full days. Not sure when it was the last time I had such a long break. But it did not get better. Walking and cycling also seemed to have a negative impact. In the end I took some ibuprofen and thought I give the Hamburg Marathon a go anyway, quite aware that it could be my first one where I have to drop out if the pain is getting too bad. In this spirit I made it to the start line, very nervous, very worried. Pretty early after the start it was clear it would be a different race, less against time and distance and more about managing all the things that did not feel right. I could feel the hip from the very start, not pain, but a clear sign that it’s not ok. Up to kilometre 20 I tried to stick to the 3:30 pacers, after that I was falling behind and couldn’t keep up the momentum. At k 21 I thought there is no way I can continue like this. The discomfort was spreading: hip flexor, quad, knee, calve, even toes; one leg part after the other seemed to be affected. How were I supposed to run another 21 Ks like this? I tried to focus on the moment and to keep it as relaxed as possible. K22, it seemed to take ages to reach this kilometre marker. I tried to ignore them. K23, really? Did it take that long? I tought about how it would feel to stop now. How would I go back to the start to collect my stuff? Where is the next tube station. K24, still 18 Ks to go. Impossible. I carried on anyway, I just felt not able to make the decision to stop. K25, maybe it wouldn’t feel hard like this until the end? Maybe it would get better at some point? I tried to think about all the ultra-marathon stories where all these miracles happened. I started to think about this as an ultra-marathon experience, where you keep going against any logic or what your legs are telling you. K26, from now on its only 10 miles more. Sounds better than 16 Ks. The Hamburg crowd kept me going. They cheered, called my name, told me I am doing great. It somehow boosted my morale. I high-fived some of the kids, who seemed to make a sport out of making contact with as many sweaty runner’s hands as possible. K27, for wanting to stop 6 Ks ago I was actually not doing too badly. But still 15 Ks left! How am I supposed to do this? K28, it suddenly happened, my legs felt better again, the footfall lighter, the thoughts less gloomy. This lasted until K33 or so, when hardship came back with a punch. But, hey, now we are only talking about 9 Ks left. And so it went on. Step by step, K by K I struggled forward. It felt like cramps started to loom beyond every muscle. Knee pain loomed, too. It started to rain and I got wet and cold. Great. And it finally was sharp, unbearable pain in the knee that brought me to a hold at K38. I walked. But dropping out was of course no option anymore. I started to run again, the knee stayed quiet, it kept raining and so it happened that I somehow made it to the finish, something that had seemed impossible. Despite having experienced other tough marathons, this one was different. A bit like having experienced my own mini-miracle. I call it the Hamburg experience and I am very happy that I had it.
I haven’t been running since Monday, as a response to the mysterious pain in the left hip area. Not that running makes it worse, but if even walking causes pain it seemed like a good idea to give the running a little break. Well, the pain is now numbed by ibuprofen and my friend Simone, who also runs Hamburg today, said she has a similar condition. Unlike me Simone got it checked out by a doctor and was diagnosed with “Schleimbeutelentzûndung” (no clue what that is in English, google translate it yourself). Maybe I got the same thing? It’s apparently caused by tensed IT bands and I have to admit, I did neglect IT band streching over the last months. Nothing I can do about now. Let’s see how far I get, maybe I am even able to finish it 🙂