So the big day was upon me, I had travelled up to Bonn on the Saturday and spent a bit too much time wondering around, but had a nice day. I wasn't feeling overly stressed, mainly because Katja was stressed enough for the both of us! I got up and ate some bread and cereal bars for breakfast, not much else was available. Katja’s half marathon started at 8:30 or 8:45, it wasn't really clear, but it meant we were up at 6am and ate breakfast well in advance of the race.
We went to the start area, it was really cold but sunny. I was well wrapped up and watched as Katja started the race, I went to the bridge that is about 600m into the race and watched her come back over it at the 8km mark, and then saw her again at about 9.5km. As the HM started late, it was already 9:55 when I had seen her a second time, so I went to check in my bag and get ready. I decided for a minimalist warm up, mainly just wanting to be sure I was done with the toilet and have a very short jog.
I got to the front of the race corral by 10:20, the 3h pacers were basically at the very front of the race, barring the few Africans who were there. The race started and I had no issues with people around me, so tucked into the 3h group where I intended to stay. After only 2km I noticed that I had to pee, I wasn't desperate, but I needed to go. I decided to run a bit more before going, so that no 2nd stop would be needed. I stopped, peed and started off in pursuit of the group. I caught them back up after maybe 1.5km, maybe a bit too quick but not a crazy sprint either.
The group running skills of people was pretty bad, lots of trips and one guy was swinging his elbows everywhere and hit me about 5 times, later after he hit someone else the person he hit got really annoyed and shouted at him. A 3rd person had a chat with him, and he immediately apologised profusely. 5 minutes later elbows man hit into me, so I moved to the side, where he followed and hit me again, I said "come on man! FFS" or words to that effect, then realised that he had a disability, not good…
After 10km we were almost perfectly on pace, so I stopped checking my watch. my heart rate started rising over the next 10km, which was worrying to me, but I still felt good. After 20km I realised that we were way ahead of 3h pace, the 3h group went through the half in 1:28:30, I went through in 1:28:45 having noticed and slowed my pace. I was happy to have a cushion, but worried that it could be too fast..
After 24km I noticed that I would need a portaloo, this wasn't a simple run to a tree problem. I got to the drinks station at 25km and quickly got everything done and started off again. It cost me very little time, maybe 15-20 seconds, and I could run in comfort to the end. I finally got to see Katja after 29km on the bridge, she looked very worried, but i reassured her that everything was ok, it was going to be close, but it was ok. I reckoned I had about 50 seconds "lead" over a 3h pace at that point, though I wasn't gaining anymore, I wasn't losing too much either.
In retrospect and looking at Strava, the next 6km are where it all went wrong. It felt hard and it had warmed up quite a bit. I didn't have any idea of my pace, expect for the KM markers but at this point all I could work out was that it was really tight. In the last 5km I gave up the ghost of getting a sub3 about 10 times, each time then thinking of how much I wanted it and surging on. I had decided that I could do the last 1.2km in 5 minutes, but faster would be a push. I came around the corner to see the 41km sign and passed it with about 4:45 to spare for a 3h run. Again my head dropped, but I knew I had to give it my all. A slight downhill made me think I might do it, but the km dragged on until eventually I could see the finishing line ahead of me and my watch read 2:59:45. The finishing line as more than 15 seconds away though, so with the crowd screaming me on, I crossed the line in 3:00:15.
I wrote at the start of the year that a London good for age time of 3:05 was the goal, but it hasn't been my real goal for quite some time. It was so close that I could only laugh after the race, that is laugh and almost cry from the pain of my legs!
1) Strava shows my running time as 2:59:33, without the toilet stops I would have broken 3, almost no doubt.
2) The 3h pacers went out 90 seconds fast, in fact they ran the 11.1km between 10km and 21.1km about 75 seconds fast. It doesn't sound a lot, but I am 95% sure that if they had run an even race, I would have broken 3h with or without toilet breaks.
3) It was a touch warm in the 2nd half of the race. I don't know why they start the marathon at 10:30am, thus ending at 13:30ish for me, but the last few km were getting pretty warm, especially as there was not a cloud in the sky. I think on a cloudy day I would probably have run sub3.
It doesn't matter now anyway. I can hopefully run London next year off real marathon training and I am sure I will smash 3h, I want to be looking more at 2:50 really. Now the next part of my training season starts, cycling season.