I haven’t done a race since February 2020! How crazy is that? Well today was my only full effort race in the run up to Zurich marathon, so I was hoping that it’d be a goody.
I set off at 8:40 for the 100km drive to Ottobeuren, I had to get my number by 10, even though the race doesn’t start until 11:05. I’d weighed in at 79.5kg, weight loss hasn’t really happened for me this year, but nerves probably led to another couple of kg being gone before the start of the race 😀
I talked to a guy on the start line, he reckoned he would run 1:20 for the HM, but it is hilly so he wasn’t sure. I didn’t know it was supposed to be hilly! We set off and a lot of people were ahead of me from the get go, I looked at my watch on the back straight (it starts with 300m on the track) and it said 3:15/km, they were fast, I wasn’t slow.
So I settled into a pace and the first km beeped at 3:29, wow, crazy fast. The next km was in 3:31 but I felt very controlled and started overtaking a few people, the next couple of km went the same, just over 3:30/km, I started dreaming of a PB. I passed the guy who told me it was hilly after 3km of very flat (actually slight downhill) running and said – not very hilly so far!
I imagined an out and back course, so each flat km meant 2 flat km to me, until at the turnaround at 4.5km all was going great, I slightly missed the turn losing a few seconds but nothing serious. The turnaround being at 4.5km did make me think that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what exactly.
After about 5km there was a turn off the asphalt track, I thought it was for the HM runners, but it wasn’t, it was for all of us, I lost another couple of seconds. Then we started to climb. I’m not talking about crazy mountains here, but there were some fairly steep slopes, and the asphalt was gone and we were on a bit muddy trail instead.
I had been passed by 2 people on this part of the course and my next km was in 4:00, poo. The trail part was all fairly tough but soon we dropped back down to the asphalt and had 2km left to go.
This was when I realised that the first few km had been slightly downhill, so it wasn’t too easy on the way back, but I still was managing 3:45/km pace, so was doing okay. Soon enough the track was in view and I just had 300m or so to go. I could hear someone trying to pass me, but I think he was running the HM, so probably thought better of it when I started accelerating at the end.
So I crossed the line in 37:09 (official time). I had thought before the race that I would be between 36-38:00, with 37:00 being about par. On a flat asphalt course, I would have run 36:30 pretty certainly, that would give me a sub 2:49 marathon, and I really think I will run sub 2:50. I’m not at my fastest ever right now, but I feel more undertrained than overtrained, so should be getting fitter before the marathon, rather than burning out as I usually do.
I had a great time doing my first race for years. I drove home singing along loudly to music in the car, it was almost like COVID never happened!
So now I have a double long run weekend next weekend, then a 26km at marathon pace the weekend after (Forstenrieder HM – but not racing) then the Tour of Flanders, then Zurich. I’m looking forward to it all – well maybe not the double long run weekend!