After my slow and not very well built 1/2M in Limassol in March, I felt it was time to attempt to race better. He he, little did I know… I decided to run 1/2M in Salzburg on Sunday, the day of S’s first birthday. Originally, all of us would go to Salzburg together: the girls would be enjoying a nice day out while I would get my run done and join them later for lunch and some more walking. The thunder on Saturday night and temperatures dropping to freezing point made us change our plans.
At 6.00 on Sunday morning, freezing to death in my light jacket, I left for Salzburg all alone. Arriving to downtown at about 8 am, the soft rain changed into something I was not willing to run in. However, the streets were full of happy (and wet) runners and so I was waiting for a miracle. And it came: By 8.45, it was suddenly dry and the clouds moved several miles outside the city. The starting shot caught a happy colorful crowd, both marathon and half marathon runners started at the same time as the marathon course was designed as 2x ‘our’ 21.1 loop. The first 5 km part was great. As my nose was blocked and I had a bit of a sore throat (this is becoming my new tradition during races), I decided to make it a nice and easy run allowing me to breath well, look around, enjoy the historical down town and its outskirts. I quickly joined a group that formed itself around the 4.45 marathon pacer and stopped thinking about the time, distance and other problems – just stopped thinking all together. After the marker of the second km, the paved surface was substituted by an unpaved sand path. Due to the rainy night and morning, the path was somewhat muddy but nothing too serious. The first pit stop was placed in Hellbrunn and it was great – enough drinks and fruit, well organised (volunteers who actually knew how to pass a plastic cup without spilling its content all over us), cheerful people. The scenery was good too…
… and this lasted for another 5 km. Around one third of the race I decided to leave ‘my’ pacer behind me and as I could still spot the green balloon of the 4.30 one, I attempted to move towards him. Why oh why did I waste so much energy to do this? I passed the 1/4M mark in 1.09 and felt well. We came to another well equipped pit stop at Schloss Leopoldskron and by the 13 km marker it became obvious that I had no speed to continue chasing the guy. I calmed down and ran a while behind a tall German girl who kept a pace similar to mine. Every now and then she stopped to make a picture (or to catch a breath?) and we have been passing each other on and off till the finish line (for which I thanked her at the finish).
The last third of the race lead us back to the old town: paved roads, good crowds on the sides, very very supportive people and volunteers, music – and then the sun started shining… Unfortunately, I did not have any energy left to speed up, quite the contrary, the last 2 miles were sort of painful – but in a good way. The first 2 Kenyan runners (who were finishing the second loop) passed me with the speed of light around 19th km. I hardly had time to focus on them and off they went. And there was the finish line, again with many people, music, beer, fruit and even this cherry cake: So to sum up: my finish time, 2:21:14, is the worst out of my thee 1/2M’s that I participated in but when it comes to my feelings, this was probably the best race I ran in. I would be happy to return next year :-).