Last Sunday I ran the SportScheck half-marathon for the fourth time in my life.
New course, same hood, same distance.
It’s been 7 weeks already since I’ve started training for the Berlin Marathon, taking place in one month. This half-marathon now was supposed to be a test. See how my body responds to the past weeks of specific training. To cut to the chase: see how fast I can run, you know.
When we picked up with the training a few weeks ago, I asked my boyfriend (and coach) what time he thought I would be able to run. And he told me 1:35′
No need to tell you how thrilled I was to beat my (at that time) personal best of 1:42’26 by 7 minutes.
So when he sent me the race plan last week, telling me we would go for PB, with a 1:37, I was disappointed. Didn’t I work hard enough? Was I training the wrong way for the last 7 weeks?!
I can be much of a drama queen sometimes.
And such pain in the ass.
I don’t need to tell you the conversation that followed.
I never hit the wall
That one is actually the best statement I’ve ever made. I never hit the wall.
Sascha tried to explain to me why I wouldn’t run a 1:35 at SportScheck half-marathon on Sunday.
- Of course, you are capable of running it, it’s just not your focus right now.
- You are training for a marathon, not for half-marathon!
- I don’t want you to be destroyed and have longer recovery weeks after the race with the most important time of the preparation coming up.
Did I want to ease off after he showed me wrong with the best arguments available on the market?
No. Because I am not only a drama queen but a very proud one too.
“In all the races I’ve done until now, I never hit the wall, I can do this”
Brain alarm! This is the kind of statement you don’t wanna say out loud.
Sending all the vibes in the universe you know.
Oh, you never hit the wall, my dear? Ok. Copy that.
At the end of the conversation, Sascha and I agreed: I give it a try.
If it’s in there great. If not, well. I tried to not think about this possibility. Always aim for the best.
What happen the days before
Making such a statement would have been less stupid if the week before the race would have been the perfect taper week. Well, actually it was. Until Friday. I don’t know what happened with my brain that day. But even if I’m not working these days, it was like TGIF, let it all out!
If a list exists about all the things you shouldn’t do before race weekend, I am sure I did top all the scores.
Starting with a lunch à la Francaise with my lovely flatmate, having Wine at Soho and ending the day with a dinner (more wine) and a drink in a bar.
I went to bed at 2 AM telling myself, smiling (and proud) “I am not drunk, so I did not screw my body or my race.”
Saturday I picked up Sascha at 11 AM at the train station. I was so happy not to be smashed (not yet) after a few hours of sleep.
It’s only in the afternoon, with the heat and all the walking, that the hangover hit me in the face.
Oho. Not good.
Brain alarm round #2 – You are so stupid, girl.
First posting an article about how important sleep is for your training, and then let it all out two days before race day.
Brilliant. Little Note for your my dear followers: Do what I say, not what I do!
At least I had a perfect day with Sascha 🙂
I can’t deal with stress on race-day
I woke up that morning after 8 solid hours of sleep and felt like I just got run over by a truck.
Not the feeling you seek for race day. But ey, my fault! At least I had fun on Friday.
After testing some new food for breakfast, showering the legs with cold water and dressing up, we were off. Hitting the road with new shoes I just bought two days ago and did wear for the first time. Perfect, right?!
“I prefer we arrive earlier, I can’t deal with stress on race-day,” I said to Sascha.
We left home earlier than expected. Having the times in mind, I knew we would arrive around 8:12 AM, almost one hour before the start.
What a surprise to see Dominik at the second train station. Haven’t seen him for a while. We started talking and talking. And talking.
At some point, Sascha did interrupt us, asking if we were sure about the direction we were heading to. “We should be there by now, right? You guys looking out when we have to leave the train?”
OMG! We are driving in the wrong direction for the last 20 minutes.
Change of train.
“We will arrive 5 minutes before start at the station”
What did I say about stress on race day…?
SportScheck Half-marathon – Let’s do this!
We ran from the train station to the start, trying to go as far in the crowd as we could. 500m of warm up with a full bladder and no time to empty it before the start. At SportScheck half-marathon, you also have the 10K runners starting at the same time, so it’s very crowded and a lot of people to pass.
And suddenly, it was 9 AM. The gun went off. No proper warm up, high-stress level. It didn’t feel like we were going to run a half-marathon, nor a PB. Stress Level: infinity.
But ey. Life does not play your music every day.
So off we were. The play of the day?
Sascha in the role of the pacer and me in the role of the runner attempting a new PB.
The goal was a 1:35H race, which means a 4’30/KM pace.
I can remember, it was so fast and so difficult to pass all these people without losing energy.
I thought “if I don’t stabilize, it’s going to be a long race.”
I am burned
Running behind Sascha knowing it was so easy for him hit my mind at a certain point. I know it’s wrong to think that because that’s the point of having a pacer. But I couldn’t help it. It just struck me down.
Very early in the race, I put my earplugs on and tried to focus on something else than the KM-signs we were (not) passing. SportScheck half-marathon is a two loops race. So you pass KM-signs every felt 500 meters, which is really hard for the mind.
I started cutting the race in different stages, trying to be happy after each 5-KM block.
Around KM8, I got slower, the heat was getting to me.
I was burned.
And I started doing what I do best.
Beating myself up.
Sascha noticed me struggling and asked me if I wanted a gel already. I couldn’t reply. I had to make oxygen choices.
What were you expecting? A 1:35? Seriously?
Why did I drink so much on Friday? And you want to achieve something in your running?
Start achieving anything in your life, having some structures.
Why is it so hard?
How could I run Barcelona and not this one?
And you want to run a personal best at Berlin Marathon?
Why is Sascha so far away? I know he is faster than me, no need to proof anything.
Shut up, he is just doing what you told him to. Pacing.
Sascha, please stop.
Don’t cry. Yes cry, you deserve it. It’s your own fault.
Let us don’t forget the fun
Getting out of the mind, I whispered his name.
Stay next to me. KM11.
I am such a failure, I am so sorry.
I am sorry.
“Don’t be sorry – all good. Just keep moving, we’re still in the game for a PB.”
No Sascha. I won’t make it today. Let it go.
I want to walk so badly. I am done.
I am such a loser, I am so sorry. I failed.
Please stop running in front of me. Stay next to me.
Just let us save the race and just have a good time together.
“So you’re not going to out race me and finish in front of me?”
No, let us forget about the pace, I am not able to run a PB today.
I just wanna be with you.
People we passed before were passing us again.
I felt so bad.
KM12. We dropped the pace to reach rock bottom: 5’30/KM.
Getting the heart rate down, I felt comfortable again.
As I said before, I am a very proud person. And very stubborn when it comes to my goals.
To me, I felt like giving up on something really important.
For me, not running for PB is giving up on a goal I set for myself.
But here I was, dropping the pace and calling it a day.
As Chris told me the night before, it’s important not to forget about the fun.
So for the first time in my life, I accepted the fact, that I was not running for PB.
It felt so good. I felt free and light again. All that weight on my shoulders were suddenly gone.
KM 14. Only 6+1 KM to go. You got this. It doesn’t matter now.
Is it really all you’ve got?
5+1KM to go.
Will you be able to say “I had nothing more left” once you cross that finish line?
Is it really all you’ve got? Can you call your Mum and tell her “I gave everything but couldn’t make it.”
Are you sure?! Are you a quitter?
I put my earplugs again and let the music take over on my mind.
I am not finished for today. I started increasing the pace.
“Sascha. I cross that fucking finish line with nothing left”
And off we were again.
You can do this. Just keep moving.
We kept passing people. And I got stronger.
These last KM felt like sprinting.
KM19. Only 1+1 to go.
KM20. My legs were shutting down.
Where are the needles to pinch them?!
“You can do this, don’t let go, give it all you’ve got”
I think this is what Sascha told me to motivate me while running a last KM split of 4:08.
I tend to forgot that I was injured during two months between Mai and July.
I have been focusing on long distance runs since January when I did my first (failed) attempt on a 50K in Portugal, my first finished ultra-race in France or the last one in Barcelona.
All of these races were difficult.
When I DNF in Portugal, I thought it was the hardest thing I’ve ever run in my entire life.
So when I sent a message to my Mum on Sunday evening, telling her that the SportScheck half-marathon was the hardest race I’ve ever run in my entire life, she didn’t understand.
But guys. No matter the distance. No matter how far you run. As long as you give it everything, it can be the hardest race of your life.
This race took so much of me.
I crossed that finish line empty, with shaking legs. Sascha had to hold me at first.
Empty. Well, except my bladder. But happy. So happy.
I am so thankful for my body and that Sascha could support my moods during the race.
SportScheck half-marathon is a special experience for me every time I run it.
Who knows, if I am not running CCC next year, I might toe the starting line again.
New personal best: 01:39’06
Overall: 405 / 2495
Overall W: 33 / 704
Women AK H: 11 / 141
Credits: Cover picture from BMW & SportScheck