A couple of months ago a mother at our Kindergarten1 mentioned that there would be a local charity race offering a 10.3km (odd, I know) and a half marathon run. As is seldom the case, the date actually worked out for me to be available, so the only question to clarify remained the one about the distance.
To train or to race?
Enter coach and his plan. The plan for July 14th was to do a long run of 22km. After relating the fact that I’d like to do a race instead2 we quickly came to the conclusion that a half marathon at race pace would be too intense, but the long run still should be happening. So a 10.3km race followed by an easy 10km cool-down was called for.
Go for a run and do something good at the same time. That’s the idea of the Run 4 Trees, where the race fees get equally distributed for the Plant for the planet organization as well as the youth section of the local sport club. As the race took place close to where I live, I dressed in running clothes, packed some food and water and road my bike to the start area.A total of 294 runners lined up for the race (161 starters for the 10.3km, 133 for the half marathon). Weather was nice, blue sky and warm air and after a 2km warm-up I was ready to race.Despite being a chip timed race I lined up pretty far at the front to avoid the usual dodge and weave through slower runners. From my recon run the week before I knew that the first kilometer would be on a narrow path and I wanted to have as much room as possible right from the beginning.The gun went off and the field sped away, 10km runners and half marathoners alike.
As the half marathon basically consisted of two loops of the 10.3km race (plus some extra) I had a nice mental guessing game whether someone I passed (or or who passed me) would be a 10.3km contender or “just” a half marathoner. Quite entertaining…After the first kilometer on pavement the course broke off into a large loop trough a forest on a nice gravel trail before coming back the same paved road. Before turning into the forest there was a highway underpass and at the end of that, before going up again, a samba band. They used the underpass tunnel as a natural amplifier and got us all pumped up. Kudos to them for sticking (drumming?) around long enough for the third and fourth pass by the half marathoners!
The run itself was uneventful. I was able to run a good solid 4’15”-4’20” pace, skipping the water stations. At kilometer 5 I was slowly passed by another runner (second or third place of the half marathon, as I would later find out) and managed to tag along until kilometer 7, resulting in a 4’13” and 4’04” split for the next two kilometers.I had a small group of runners about 25m-50m in front of me, but never really managed to close the gap myself. Only when approaching the 9 kilometer mark with the highway underpass I was able to catch them on the ensuing ascend and run with them for the last kilometer, only to find out that they’d all run the half marathon. No competitors for me, but good company for the last kilometer. I was passed by a runner pushing a stroller (!) on the last few hundred meters. Turns out, he’d be my age group and finish 51 seconds ahead of me (obviously started behind me, judging from the result list).
The training run
After stopping for a short while to catch my breath, get something to drink and to take of my chip and bib number (didn’t want to confuse other runners more than necessary) I entered the course again. This time I went counter-clockwise, figuring I’d be able to cheer for oncoming runners. My legs felt super-heavy initially but I soon found a good rhythm, running a 6’10”/km pace. I saw a couple of half marathoners twice (at the end of their first round and then again on their second loop) and cheered for them whenever I saw an opportunity (some ran with ear buds, no point in shouting encouragements their way). Sadly, when I finished my second loop, the samba band was gone already.
After finishing my rather long cool-down run, I was eager to see the result list. Turns out I missed third place in my age group by one(!) second, coming in at 11th overall and 4th AG with a time of 43’40”. According to my Garmin I ran the 10km in 42’15”, an unofficial PR by 1’09”.I’m still very happy with the result as I rather run for PRs than for place, even though I might have to think about placing in my AG as being possible in the near future.For your amusement, here’s how it went down on Strava: