Running experts on the internet recommend that before attempting a big race like a half marathon, you should get some racing experience by taking part at smaller city runs. I always wondered, why? If you are able to run a certain distance, why would you need to do it with a bunch of other people? What’s the difference? Should you be learning how to queue up in the start block and how to properly attach the time chip to your shoe? Really, can’t be so hard.
Anyway, the moment I read about the Deutsche Post Ladies Run in Wiesbaden, I got really excited and wanted to take part. Training? Don’t need it, in the end I have ran the 10k three times already in a little more than 1 hour and never really struggled.. Pheeew, ladies run.. no problem for me!
So yesterday I found myself surrounded by a group of yellow shirted women, getting pumped up for the race. I have made sure the time chip is attached properly, went for one last pee in McDonalds and was ready to go. Then they counted down for the 5k run, the front crowd moved and the warm up for us 10k girls began.
Finally I heard the starting shot and my legs began to move slowly, then a bit faster and people around us cheered. I felt great, I overtook some others, and tried to get up front – thinking that Im going my usual pace. After one mile I realized that I was darn wrong, the heat seemed unbearable and I craved water. Also I really needed to slow down, but what is slow? I have lost all sense of pace and time, just tried to not get overtaken and struggled to find my comfort speed.
At kilometer 2.5 they gave out water and all I was thinking was: Well, that’s gonna be a long race. Frankly, I was exhausted, pressured and never fell into the running mood where you just think about cool fantasy things, awesome scenarios, heroic stories – or just nothing. All I literally thought about was: Hot, hot, far, tired, hot, my belly hurts, what time is it? I overtook some of the 5k walkers and slow runners – but it couldn’t really motivate me. Two girls next to me were having a fight and I felt pathetic because I don’t think I’d have even had the energy to argue with somebody.
At kilometer 5 I was ready to cross the finish line but instead had to run into the 10k section that leads you out and about again into another round. Was I still running properly or was I just dragging myself like an old aunty trying to catch the bus?
My husband had come down to support me and had situated himself comfily under a tree, with his camping chair and a few cans of beer – ready to take pics whenever I pass by. I took that occasion to stop running for the first time and have a little chat, tempted to just join his one man beer party. Of course I didn’t and actually made it to kilometer 7.5, where they gave out water again – another excuse to slow down and take a stroll for some seconds (I have figured out I can’t run AND drink), before I forced my legs to keep going again. Almost done!
Almost done was my motivation too. I made it out of the park onto my last mile, which would lead through the city. It was burning hot, I was exhausted as the f*’ck and my energy has been completely drained. I stopped caring about my time and really just wanted to cross the finish line. I even saw it, I heard the crowd but I knew the track would send me there in snake-like lanes. I got overtaken by some more people, a photographer took pics (in which I of course smiled and looked happy), some guys cheered and finally, finally !!!!! I approached the finish line.
I took all my energy together and gave it a final proper try. Hips forward, straight back, big steps – the last 200m! I saw my husband standing there with the camera, I smiled, I heard the crowd yelling. I was alone on the stretch, a group of other girls like 30 seconds behind me. It looked like I had won this whole race… I waited for the announcer to welcome me and call my name… Well, call my name bitch!! I’m here!
But instead I listened to him say: “And now we’re ready for the victory ceremony of the 5k… The third winner is…. Mareike.. Came in after 20 minutes..Yeah yeah yeah” Nobody even cared that I had just arrived (except for my husband) everybody else cheered for that winning girl. Awesome. But over!!
I quickly glanced sidewards to check my slow ass time, grabbed as much water, bananas, free drinks and cereal as I could carry and went off to chill out with my only sweet supporter…
What a run. I’ve learned a big lesson about starting off a race too fast and I’m grateful I’ve learned this lesson on a 10k run rather than on the half marathon. Because as sure as the earth rotates around the sun – on this day I could not have finished the race if there were another 11.1 extra kilometers to go.