Home > Important_Day, Photo, Running > Munich Marathon – Oct 9, 2011

Munich Marathon – Oct 9, 2011

October 13, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The buildup

My travel was originally planned from Oct 3-11, and I had registered for the Cologne Marathon (Oct 2) well in advance, and then had planned with a colleague, Marc, to do a slow half at Munich (on Oct 9, but one for which I had not registered).

So, when my travel plans changed (it was first cancelled, and then it was back on, and then there was uncertainly over my visa) and it became evident that the Cologne Marathon was a no-go, it was a bit of a bitter pill. 

Then, the quad workouts were going great, but as a consequence, my running mileage had decreased significantly = after the Hyderabad full, I had just one 21k to show as a “long one”.

I didn’t count much on the travel happening and so put away registering for the Munich Marathon until it was absolutely certain that the travel would happen. I spoke with Marc as well, and he, unfortunately, had a bad knee and couldn’t run – and so I was free to sign up for the full.

But, the travel happened and I did a 10k at Helsinki, around my favorite lake and it set me up for the Munich Marathon.

But, first the Expo – Oct 8, 2011 (Sat)

Reached Munich from Helsinki by 11:30 or so, and made my way to MotelOne DT Museum, via the convenient S-Bahn. But, they had no rooms ready yet (check-in was only at 1500) and so I left my luggage, including my laptop bag, took a smaller back-pack (which had just the GU gels, the book and the registration email), and my passport – and went to the Munich Marathon expo to collect my bib.

The weather had turned bad – it was rainy, overcast and gloomy. It was also quite cold – around 5-6 deg Celsius. Similar weather was predicted for the marathon the next day. 😦

I took the U-Bahn to Olympiczentrum and there was a minor disaster (nice oxymoron isn’t it?) – I got out of the train and almost immediately realized that I didn’t have the backpack with me. Damn. I tried to board the train again, but the door closed and the train started moving. I could see the bag even as I started running alongside the train and signaled frantically to the person sitting by it to throw it out via the tiny window – he tried, but I think it was the book which got jammed and he couldn’t throw it out. I walked up to the security officer outside and told him about it with no real hope of getting it. Thankfully, it was just the gels and the book.

I walked over to the expo at the Olympic stadium event arena and collected the bib – running # 3849. It was every bit the big event expo which I always pictured and wanted to attend. The excitement built up as I walked through the stalls. I bought a couple of gels since I just lost the ones which I had got from Madras. Here are some pictures taken there:

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I also had lunch there – the noodle/ pasta at the expo. I think I spent about 3+ hours there.

Then, walked back to the U-Bahn station and checked with the security officer there – and my bag was there! :-). Unbelievable! Seriously brilliant! They called the driver who walked down, fetched the bag and had it dropped off back at the Olympiczentrum station. Nice! and I had the book and my gels back. 🙂

Got back to MotelOne, by which time the room was ready. Got to the room, settled in and stretched for a bit. Pinned up my bib, got my running stuff all ready and then went out for dinner. Went to this nice Italian restaurant, Bella Italia, for another round of pasta. :-).

Got back to the room, watched some cricket on the laptop and slept early.

Oct 9, 2011 – Sunday: A brilliant Munich Marathon

Woke up nice and early. Had a warm shower to get some blood flowing and had a super breakfast at the hotel. It was still cold and rainy outside. It was around 0 at that time (7ish in the morning), and the rain was icy chill.

I had checked the weather before I left Madras and it was predicted that it would be warm and sunny; Around 20-22 deg Celsius – because of that, I left my “cold weather running kit” – trackpants, thin jacket, gloves – behind at Madras and had got just the normal shorts and t-shirt. Now, the weather had turned bad and I was cursing myself for not having considered this possibility.

I decided to run in my thick, big jacket – it was going to be uncomfortable, but I was a little afraid. I like to run in the cold, and I like the rain, but I was not sure how it would be to run for 5 hours, when it would be both cold and wet. I should have bought a thinner jacket at least at Munich, which I didn’t.

Anyway, made my way to the Olympic stadium again, dropped my bag off (which had a towel and change of clothes) and just sat there watching the runners and taking pictures. Here are some from there:

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The whole road was filled with runners, around 7000 or 8000, I think. The whole event (full, half, 10k) had 20,000 runners, and so I am assuming that around 7000 would have started the full.

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The race started on time at 10 am. There were 2 starts – one for the quick ones and one for us. So, ours started at 10:05 actually.

Within a minutes of the start, once I got warmed up, I knew that the heavy jacket was unnecessary and so removed it, and though I was tempted to discard it, I tied it around my waist just in case it rains later in the race.

The temperature by this time (and it stayed at around this the whole time) was around 7-8 deg Celsius and it was absolutely beautiful, almost perfect, for the run

The first few kms went by and I hardly even realized it, taken by the rush of the start and the flow of the surging runners. I was, as usual, on a 5:1 R;W, but I was so charged up that I was running well before the ‘break’ completed the 1 min – I was probably taking just a 40 sec break.

I didn’t even feel the first 5k go by and was quite surprised when I realized that I had done the 5k in about 30 mins. Pretty decent I thought. Rhythm set in by then and it was all flowing quite well. I wonder how, but in that cold, it seemed almost effortless. Quite early in the race, we were treated to some significant and beautiful Munich sights with us passing through a great arch, and a band on the side of the roads drumming out a fast beat.

This was a bit strange, but the next 5k (i.e. from 5k to 10k) was among the most easiest I had ever done – there was a great rhythm; was feeling light and fluid and having got into the English Garden, I still remember the feeling and it was fantastic. It was such a beautiful experience where I was not even conscious of the time and the breaks were coming too early!

10k was done in just under an hour and I was feeling so good. I had my gels and took one quite early. Until around now, I hadn’t paused at the aid stations, but got some water to down the gel and motored along.

The aid stations were, well, as you could expect in a big-city marathon – both sides of the road, multiple tables serving water, electrolytes and bananas.

There were a good number of spectators who braved the cold and lined the roads cheering us on. Very nice. Danke!

Cut to a 4:1 as planned, but the “1” wasn’t really a full minute. I was still getting off the blocks before the minute was up, but I was so buoyed by the 10k under the hour, that I wanted to keep up the pace, and build the buffer for as long as I could.

But, at around 15k, I had to push to keep the time at a 6:00 min pace, and then started wondering if I was pushing too hard too early. I knew for sure I would not be able to sustain this for long and gave up on chasing the 6 min km.

The Half was reached at 2:08, and while that time was great, it did exact a toll on me. I felt more than a bit drained and was slowing down quite a lot.

Claudia and her husband took the effort to stand in that cold at around the 21 km mark to cheer me on. Really nice of her.

Downed another gel around here, but was not sure if I got the energy surge. Looking back now, I think this patch – between 21 to 30k was the worst patch of the race. I was still trying to maintain a 4:1, but it was getting more and more difficult. I experimented by doing a 2:00 min run with a 0:30 sec walk (and thereby still maintaining a 4:1, except that the break was coming sooner), but that didn’t seem to help. I looked around for inspiration and some motivation, but was only rewarded by the 4:15 bus (and this was really a packed bus, unlike our empty Hyderabad bus) sweeping past me.

The 4:15 bus comprised of at least 35-50 passengers and I could hear them coming up behind me and a huge herd of galloping runners almost stampeded past me and disappeared so quickly. I couldn’t even keep up with them for a few minutes.

I was tiring and I thought my cliff (which usually comes at 27k) had come even by the 24-25k. I was ruing the faster start and at that point, it didn’t help that we were running through the not-so-great areas of Munich.

I cut to a 3:1 soon and found the going still tough. Until this time, I was harboring hopes of a best time (my previous best was a 4:43 at Washington, that was set on Mar 2010 – a good year and a half ago, in similar cold conditions), but I soon got that out of my head. I was hurtling down this cliff and it made more sense to think of how the heck I was going to finish. 30k finally came in 3:10 or something. One more gel.

Quite paradoxically. it was when I got rid of that silly “time target” from my head, relaxed, cut down to a 2:1, started looking around rather than down at my watch – that I got a second wind, steadied myself and from here the race came to me.

Sure, I couldn’t increase the average pace, but I found this patch easier and more enjoyable than the previous bit when I was simply trying too hard.

The 4:30 bus swept past now. You could hear them coming and it is quite a whooshing sound – and I instinctively moved away to let the whole herd past, but unlike the last bus, this one didn’t disappear and I could see them gradually pulling ahead while I maintained my 2:1. When that got difficult, I cut to a 1:1 at the start of the 5th hour despite the PR thoughts that had crept back. 🙂 It was still within reach and I was now convinced that going slow was the only way to go faster.

The last few kms were fantastic actually, because I could really run hard in that 1 min, and then grin, look around, walk about, hi-five spectators – and I was still on course to get a decent time in.

We came back to where we started, and went through into the Olympic Stadium for the finish. What a place to finish – totally spectacular! You come in through this tunnel into the track, and push hard like you are in some games and race to the line. It’s got to be among the best places to finish – it is simply wonderful to run around the track and finish there. Simply super.

Finished and looked down at the watch – 4:38! 🙂

Fantastic. Loved it and soaked in that moment.

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Needless to say – exhausted. Got my food – a non-alcoholic beer, pretzel, an apple and a banana – and slowly, ever so slowly, climbed up those zillion stairs to collect my bag. If there was one thing I could change about this marathon, it would be those stairs. Argh.

Trudged my way back via the U-Bahn back to the room. Got there and some soaking in the cold shower helped me to get me somewhat functional.

Later in the evening, went out and celebrated with Sebastian in a nice pub, once again, grinning and grimacing at the same time. 🙂

Categories: Important_Day, Photo, Running
  1. Anonymous
    October 14, 2011 at 2:42 am

    bravo, super! keep it up!! how many marathons have u done till now, seriously, i,ve lost count

  1. October 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

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