After my missed Tegernseelauf I quickly looked around for alternatives to run on the originally planned date (September 22). Between the Isar-Lauf Tölz – Lenggries and the Hapfelmeier Laufcup the latter won due to the later start time. Here is my report on how it went.
With a start time of 11:15am for a race that is about an hour away from my place I had a very relaxed morning. In order to leave enough room for packet pickup and warm-up I aimed for a 9am arrival and left the house at 8. Traffic was low (what else to expect on a Sunday morning?!) and navigation to the place of action was easy. I was surprised to find some sort of (open-air) expo for a race of this size (about 550 participants all events combined) and since I arrived plenty early I took my time to visit the booths (excluding the one from our German Army).
Packet pickup was quickly done without a long line, so I found myself back at the car at around 10am. Things I had left to do:
- Fix bib on race shirt
- Obsess over the right clothing
- Get nervous
That last part was rather easy. The middle part was not as easy, since the day started out sunny but chilly and I knew it’d warm up by the time I was to race. I opted for long pants and sleeves for the warm-up and then shorts for the race. Good decision, as it turned out to be well into the 20s (°C).With all the race prep done, I went for a 4km warm-up (simple out-and back, as I didn’t want to get lost) with a couple of strides thrown in. Stretch, change into running clothes, one last gear check and I was ready to run.
I’ve learned to spend some thoughts on the race tactics for any long(-ish) distance race. Back in April I had planned to split the race into four 5km chunks. As the Vienna City Marathon turned out to be very crowded I wasn’t able to follow my plan back then. For this race, I picked up a different strategy:
- 5mi/8km in a “comfortable” high Z2 effort.
- 5mi/8km with more effort, somewhere in the Z3 range.
- 5km all out.
I’m really happy that my training taught me to judge my effort not only by pace and heart-rate, but also by perceived exertion (RPE). See, when I line up for a race, my body goes into race-mode and I can sport crazy high heart-rate readings, being pumped with adrenaline and all. While my normal (non-race) Z2 is somewhere in the high 150bpm, running the same RPE level in a race results in heart-rate data well above 170.
The Race is On
I should rather say “the races are one”, as this event sported some kids runs, a 5km run, 10km run, 10km nordic walking and the half-marathon. The 5km was already done when I lined up and the 10km events where started about 25 minutes prior to the half-marathon. The course was a 10km loop along the river Ammer with a short extra out-and-back for the half-marathoners to make it 21km. For a course along a river the road was surprisingly hilly at times, but otherwise a nice and scenic run. After each loop we’d go back into Weilheim to the start-/finish area to get some cheering going. Mind you, this is a small local race, so there were hardly any spectators out on the course.126 fellow runners lined up for the half-marathon, which meant there was very little traffic out on the course. Following my plan I was happy to see that I was able to run a 4’43” average for the first 8km. My legs felt really good. I wasn’t worried that I got passed a lot for the first couple of kilometers and continued to run my race (at this point I’m definitely running for PRs rather than podium spots).Come kilometer eight I picked up the pace by about 5-10 seconds per kilometer. The increase was quite noticeable on the RPE scale, but hardly so on the heart-rate front. While I averaged 177bpm for the first 8km this rose only to a 182bpm average for the next 8km. Pace-wise I managed to run 4’34”/km for this section of the race and I started to pass other runners. It looked like my plan would work out, which kept me going! Sadly, after 16km/10mi I wasn’t able to pick up the pace any further despite my going all out. In contrary, I had to fight hard not to run a slower pace and barely finished the last 5km with a 4’52”/km average. Not sure what to make of it yet, but I was really spent when I crossed the finish line after 1h39’45”. This is more than a five minute improvement over my first half-marathon in April and a huge PR for me. I focused all my energy on the last couple of hundred meters to beat 1h40’ on the clock.
Overall I finished 36th out of 126 and placed 5th in my AG (M40).
I was able to enjoy some beer (alcohol-free, of course!) and cheer on other runners as they finished their race. All in all I have to say the crowd was really nice and the race very well organized. After taking a shower in a local school I enjoyed viewing the rest of the event from a nearby café, sipping on a well-earned cappuccino. I have to give an extra (albeit anonymous) shout-out to the woman with bib-number 12 who started her second lap when I approached the finish area and whom I was worrying for whether or not she’d make the time-cut. Turns out she did, finishing in 3h15”, over half an hour after the runner in front of her. Quite a sign of endurance to keep going with no one in sight in front of you. Kudos! Speaking of kudos, here’s the activity on Strava: