Monday, May 5, 2014

Hamburg Marathon 2014 race report

Races are funny things- they test how physically and mentally tough you think you are. When you are specified in one particular sport then more focused you become on a specific goal. I was pretty excited when a good friend of mine suggested running a marathon ...and just a few minutes later we were looking at the schedule, figuring out which marathon race would suit us best. So, Hamburg it was! It's not that far away from Aarhus (4-5 hours) and as Germans are known as excellent marathon organizers, it was an easy decision for us.
My preparation for the marathon started back in January. I'm not very good at running big mileages, so I ran between 4 and 7 hours a week, however I'm good at setting my goals high enough, targeting a sub 3 hour marathon that seemed to be a fairly achievable with a little bit of effort and it all went nearly as planned ...until things just leaded to failure. I hadn't been able to run and exercise 2 weeks prior the race due to shin splints. Needless to say, I lost confidence to be successful in this race. However, I decided to give my leg as much rest as possible and make the final decision on whether or not to run just a day before the marathon. But before we get into details, lets start at the very beginning.
Around 9:30 AM on Saturday morning I headed down to Aarhus central railway station to meet up with a friend and catch the train to Rødekro, where we picked out a car to Hamburg.

Stuck in a traffic jam on the way to Hamburg

We arrived Hamburg around 5PM, leaving us 2 hours to pick our race packets. As our hotel wasn't nearby the start line, where the packet pickup and expo was held, we took the 20 min bus ride with a short walk at the end to the Henrich-Hertx Turm.


With no lines, it was a quick packet pickup! After that we started to carbo-load at the Pasta Party and ended up in the supermarket for some extra. Then back to the hotel, quick running shoes pickup and off for a short run we went. I ran these 15 minutes shin splints free and decided to give it a go next day!
The next morning we woke up early- 6:45 AM or so, to eat breakfast, pack our luggage, check out of our hotel and catch the 7:42 AM bus to the start line.


The bus ended up packed full of marathoners.


The very smooth operation was all excellent! The bag dropoff went quickly and left me more than 30 minutes to get in my warm-up. Much more than enough!


Surprisingly I was just a few meters back of the line when the gun went off, even though I wasn't planning it. Anyway, off we went. My pacing strategy was based on shin splints and once she hits me, I either keep on going or prove she was wrong. At this point, I was pain free. Because the runners were grouped by expected finish time, I got a plenty of fast runners around me, pushing me to run further ...and then I just hold ...for awhile. I crossed the half marathon at 1:26:34 and simply tried to keep the pace. But at 25km or so, she hit me first time. The pain was sharp, but tolerable and at this point it was all about crossing the finish line no matter how long it takes. Unfortunately the finish line wasn't near and I had a long battle ahead. Even though it was a painful experience and I had to slow down considerably, I couldn't let her stop me. Seemed like the longest kilometers ever. I crossed the finish line at 2:59:35. 



The Hamburg Marathon is probably one of the best marathon I have ever participated, because I absolutely loved the organization. A great flat course, athmospere and the greatest cheering crowds I have ever seen! The only thing I would change would be getting rid of shin splints before participating in a marathon. 

After a quick recovery meal and shower, I headed back to catch my friend finish, but he was too quick this day. He was running his first marathon and finished at 3:26. A pretty gifted runner! 

Short walk back to the bus stop, ride back to the hotel and after that away we want, back to Aarhus.

Now that my time here in Aarhus is coming to an end, it's time to prepare for the last exams, start packing and go to Copenhagen, where the marathon takes place at the end of the next week. Will do my best to cheer the runners on from start to finish. After that, Africa, I'm coming.

Thanks for reading and have a great week ahead!

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