Last Sunday, at around this time, the start pistol went off and I headed towards a finish line more than 42 kilometres away.
But first things first: The event took place in Ulm, a small city located at the river Danube. The city is famous for it’s Minster, which is measuring 161,5m, the tallest church in the world. Due to the distance between my home town and the destination I had to get up quite early, 4 AM to be precise, and jump on the 5AM train.
I had registered for this event at New Year’s Eve, so there was plenty of time to come up with a training plan, perhaps too much. In hindsight I’d say I started too early with preparing for this event and therefore had countless opportunities to abort and rearrange the training and frequently made use of it. In the end I was able to stick to a stringent plan, at least during the 4 weeks before the event.
Knowing about my suboptimal level of fitness I adjusted my expectations several times but finally decided to start just in front of the 4h30 pacemaker and made the promise to defeat this position under all circumstances. Even knowing about my capability to run faster, I decided for a slow start at a pace of 6.30. A few hundred meter I realised that my plan was far to conservative and tried to go for 6min flat but at that early stage the field of competitors was quite dense and it was quite tricky to gain some ground. It took me almost 10km to catch the 4h15 pacemaker but than I was able to beat a 5.30 pace without great effort. I felt great but I forced myself not to risk to much with more than 30km ahead. At the around km 18 the vast group of half-marathoners left the main course and there was a lot of space and I was able to go for quite a distance at a 5.00 pace. Spotting the 4h00 pacemaker ignited my eagerness and after overtaking, I was highly motivated to finish sub 4h. Shortly after km25 my tracker informed me about a new record, longest distance ever, what helped a bit to run even a bit quicker. Unluckily, ahead was only plain field and the sun at this time made it quite hard for me to keep my pace up. I managed to decrease only slightly and until km38 I was ahead of the 3h55 pacemaker before I had to give up on the goal to get a finisher photo together with her. The last 3km where quite a challenge but I managed to finish within 4 hours.
Feeling exhausted, devastated, relieved and proud, all at the same time, this day is a remarkable experience in my life. It was my first marathon ever but definitely not my last.