Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Winter Street Half-Marathon Report

So I ran my seventh half-marathon today (fifth for this year). The race started at 2:30 p.m., so I had time this morning to piddle around and do a few things around the house. I had a pasta brunch at about 10:30 a.m., good fuel for the race. My wife wanted to stay home today and catch up on her stuff, so I left about 12:30 for the race, a 45 minute drive from my house.

The weather was threatening, but there was only a few sprinkles of rain. The temperature was hovering around 8C/46F, mild, a little wind, dark clouds. I arrived at the race just in time to cheer the 5K and 10K runners as they left. I picked up my start packet and chilled out in the sport hall for awhile. They had some fest tables set up and were selling the usual cake, wurst’s and stuff to drink. Most of the runs in Germany are hosted by sports clubs as a means for funding their activities.

About 15 minutes before the race I made a last pit stop then headed outside to stretch and warm up a bit. There were 175 runner’s present for the half-marathon, the smallest half-marathon that I ever ran. No matter. I lined up at the rear of the pack at the start and at promptly 2:20 p.m. we were off.

I quickly fell into a comfortable pace as we wound our way through town, over the highway splitting the town (the fire department stopped traffic for us), and finally over the Autobahn at about the 2K marker. Just before I rounded the curve which lead over the Autobahn the wife of one of my friends at work saw me and started cheering me on. They live just down the street from this curve. My friend wanted to run the 10K today, but has problems with his knee so can’t run for a couple weeks.

So motivated by a friendly face I headed over the Autobahn on a bridge used by the local farmers and headed into the Hardt Forest. The path was a worn-asphalt path and quite straight. I passed the 5K point with a time of 26:11, which is a pace of 5:14/K (8:26/M). Not bad!

Around the 5.5K point we turned around and ran back the same way we came to the start, the half-marathon was two rounds. Most of the time I was running alone, there were so few people doing the run that we really spread out. As I completed the first turn and started heading back I noticed there were at least 20-30 people behind me, some of them way back – well at least I wouldn’t be last today. Right past the turn around was a service point – all they were offering was a weak tea – no sports drink – not good – I didn’t bring anything with me!

So through the woods, back over the Autobahn, across the highway, through the town…I passed the 10K marker with a time of 53:03, for an average pace of 5:18/K (8:32/M) for the first 10K and I still felt good. So on I went a couple hundred meters forward, almost to the Start, then we did another turn around and headed out for another loop. Through the town, across the highway, over the Autobahn, through the forest.

The 15K point was approximately 500 meters before the turn around in the forest. I noted my time 1:20:26, for an average pace of 5:22/K (8:38/M) for the first 15K. I could feel that I was starting to slow down a little, but I wasn’t too concerned, this was just a training run.

I completed the turn and started heading back through the forest. There was a dude about a minute or two in front of me that I tried to pick off, but he was hoofing it, I had all I could do to keep from losing ground. So I passed the 16K marker, the 17K marker, then out of the forest, over the Autobahn, the 18K marker – I tried to stretch it out a little. My energy level was depleted, I hadn’t planned on the lack of sports drink, the unsweetened tea was worthless other than for hydration purposes.

So past the 19K marker, over the highway, past the 20K marker – I picked up the pace the best I could. The last part of the run through town seemed to take an eternity. For almost the entire run the streets were empty, other than the runners and the fire department directing traffic. No people outside cheering us on or lending support – what a disappointment!

So anyway I finally rounded the last corner and saw the Finish about 200 meters in front of me. I tried my best to sprint in, but I was running on empty, oh well it can’t always be an adrenalin-rush-watch-out-I’m-coming-through finish. There was a few people at the finish, but no cheering, what a dead bunch of people. Thanks for all the cheering guys!

My time was a respectable 1:54:24, about 6 minutes slower than my best time, but I don’t have a problem with that. I wanted to finish in under two hours, and I did that with time to spare. My average pace for the 21.1K/13.1M was 5:25/K (8:44/M).

I walked around for a little while, stretched than grabbed my bag out of the car and took advantage of the free showers in the sports clubhouse. By the time I got cleaned up and in some dry clothes I was hungry enough to eat a side of beef, so made my way to the food. All the good stuff was gone, no cake, no steaks, just a piece of spam-like meat on a roll. I ate one, drank a sports drink that I had in my bag and went home, being sure to brush the dust of my shoes as I left.

I’m putting this event on my black list. The town obviously is not interested in this event, hardly anyone even notice us as we sweated are way through town. For a half-marathon they did not offer anything along the way to reenergize, I now understand why so many people had fuel belts today – they knew the deal! The last straw was that the club ran out of food before all the participants were even back from the race. There was no reason for this as this year there was only half as many runners as last year, there should have been piles of food left over.

So anyway, as soon as I got home we walked across the street and I bee-lined to the first stand that was selling cake and had a couple pieces. This was followed by a bratwurst, a cevacici (a spicy Yugoslavian hamburger and lamb combination served rolled up in Pita bread with onions and tomatoes – yummy!), a beer and finally half of a French-Alsace Flammkuchen (kind of like a pizza but really thin with smoked ham, onions and a sour crème sauce) that I shared with my wife. That should hold me for an hour or two ;-)

Tomorrow I’m heading back over to the Christmas market and will take some pictures.

Well, at least your time wasn't disappointing! What's wrong with them, I wonder? It's not so commonplace to run over 13 miles. Thankfully, you were able to rectify the situation as soon as you got home. :)
Great should be proud of get big time bragging rights with pushing on your own steam (no energy drink, no love from the crowd!!)
very respectable time indeed!
The Christmas market food sounds great!
Wow, seventh half marathon! That's very cool. Sorry to hear there were some disappointing aspects of the race but you ran it well in any case. The Christmas market refueling sounds delicious!!
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