After the frustrating DNF in Berlin (I pulled out after 7k) I decided to give it a go at another Marathon. Maybe with a bit of luck I could still have a decent Marathon in my legs. And there was plently of choices of events who allowed late entry: Cologne was fast and near my German home town, Amsterdam which was equally fast and quite nice (I had done both before) and there was Newcastle (which Marco and Debs had entered) but I decided finally to try the Essen Marathon in its 50th edition (which makes it Germany's oldest Marathon). "Rund um den Baldeney See" ("Around Lake (Loch?) Baldeney").
I knew most of the route which was flat and pretty around that nice lake which I had lapped in training (and it also was a popular Inline Skating ground for Silke).
One good reason to run in Essen that we could visit and stay with my In Laws who live nearby and also Silke's Brother, Sister and various Nephews and Nieces could come and watch. And after the race we could travel down to my own hometown to visit my father and my sister.
Together with 1500 starters at 10am we were off. There were no start blocks and it was no problem to sneak to the front of the field. I had checked previous results and found starting within the top 20 was appropriate. Four runners were introduced before the start who all wanted to have a go at the sub 2:20 and I overheard that one runner said he wanted to run a sub 2:40 and I thought it would be an idea to follow him although I had absolultely no real hope for such a fast time. I did not want to DNF again and wanted to take it rather sensibly and enjoy the race. The field stretched quickly and I settled into a reasonable pace but it turned out that I could not follow that sub 2:40 guy.
I was not slow though. There were markers for every Kilometre and I soon noticed that I could not trust the Garmin splits. Since they came always too early. There were large digital watches every 5k though so I knew roughly how I was doing. As long as I could still do some math in my head that is.
I remember that first 5k. It was an important marker. I was a bit slower than I was in Berlin and it felt I had already worked hard. Also I was facing a good headwind now so I expected the next five k to be slower. But the injury from Berlin did not show at all. That was good news.
Too slow for a sub 2:40 but that did not bother me much. I really had no particular expectations for today. I was still on for a decent time. Silke was here and handed me a bottle with water and an energy gel.
This was an interesting point of the race. A group of 3 runners just had passed me. I did not feel particulary strong. In fact it was a bit frustrating that I was passed. Was it going downhill from here? Was I already slowing? Run your own race I thought. Don't chase. Find your own pace.
I hear some cheering behind me. Applause. I am just about to be passed by the leading woman. She was accompanied by a good bunch of runners and a couple of officials on bikes. And as it turned out she was head to head with another woman.
So what do I do now? Run my own race and get "chicked" or even "double chicked"? Or run away? Speed up? And potentially make a complete arse out of my race and a fool out of myself?
Yep. That's what I decided to do. I decide to speed up. To take that risk and work harder. I pass two of the three runners who had passed me earlier. Silke is there to hand me my second bottle. I drink half of it. 200ml perhaps.
Half Marathon: 1:20:42
A marshall tells me that I was in 11th place. I am pleased with that half marathon split but have no real hope
that I can hold that pace for another 13 miles. But I try. I keep the runner ahead in sight.
The legs are getting sorer. But energy levels are good. I can't remember the exact splits from now on and there is some wind and some small ups and downs but I do not let my pace drop. I work hard for it. I pass a runner who is slowing dramatically but there is another runner closing from behind. With just about 10k to go I am in 10th place. I feel more and more that this is a race I am in. It's not "my own race" though since I cannot affort it.
I push as hard as I can. And with just about 5k to go I can see another runner ahead. He does not come closer though but he is passing another runner who is slowing and I soon pass that runner. I noticed that I managed to shake off the guy behind me. I am in 9th place now and I am closing on the runner in 8th and when I finally pass him I can spot another runner ahead. I produce fast splits I fly past the next runner.
Unfortunately I see that the path ahead is very busy with large groups of walkers and I am shouting (as kindly as possible) towards them so they open a gap for us runners. Not everyone cares about us faster runners and it gets a bit messy when I have to run through the mud around those groups. But I eventually am directed to the last k which is taped off just for us runners. There is a 180 degree turn into the finishing straight.
I keep the pace high until the finish and am delighted with a new PB and a very respectable 7th place out of 1352 finishers.
Result: 2:41:17 (6:09 pace). And my first negative split! (1:20:42 / 1:20:35).
|My "in law" support team (Luisa, Karin, Erich, Karolin, Tim, Heike, Angelina, John, Simon)|
I even won something: A big cup for winning the V45 age group (although I was also ahead of the V40 and V35 winners). And a few vouchers and a book. All that was collected by my father in law (Erich) since we could not stay that long and were soon on our way to Euskirchen to visit my dad.
The woman's race was won by Silke Optekamp in 2:45:05 only seconds ahead of Christel Viebahn.
The men's race was won by Daniel Schmidt in 2:23 (with three more runners staying under 2:25).