Man, marathons are grueling. But damn it, the carnage is so pleasing. It’s like the first half of the race is a celebration of getting through the training block then the second half is all about surviving.
Straight up, racing in Hamburg was an unforgettable experience. Spectators lined both sides of the streets for the majority of the race and instead of having music stations every X-amount of kilometres blasting the latest pop hits, spectators were blowing whistles or spinning those weird noise making things. I’m fried and don’t care to look up what they’re called. Anyways, yea, electric avenue along the whole course. It was loud and really helped to keep us going. London took place on the same day as Hamburg this year and although London is a world major, I’d recommend looking at Hamburg if you want to do a European spring marathon. Rotterdam and Prague take place around the same time so there’s a few options to look at.
Back at the end of February, Reid and I were on the Terminal Mile to announce our intentions to race Hamburg. At that time, we mentioned 2:13 as our goal. It was a time that I legitimately thought I could get after. The day after we did that interview, another flu bug hit that had me bedridden for 3 days and took 10 days to recover from. After dealing with laryngitis in November/December and a flu bug at the end of December, being ill for a third time at the end of February/beginning of March was deflating and just another hurdle to deal with.
The training started to click after the Gate River Run 15K and the NYC Half (6 weeks out). I was not content with putting up unsatisfactory numbers and it wasn’t fair to those in my inner circle that I was competing like a complete chump. I decided to disable all social media apps on my phone and deleted Strava a month ago because I was spending far too much time being distracted by a bunch of garbage online. I’ll admit that I had a social media problem to the point I would scroll mindlessly for hours. It was detrimental to my mental health and overall daily productivity, which affected my athletic performances by taking away time from stretching or strength training and it would affect my quality of sleep.
The biggest change came on my wrist – I turned off the pace feature on my GPS watch. Every run for the final 5 weeks was based off of feel. Even on race day (Sun Run and Hamburg), I didn’t wear a watch. This move allowed me to truly do my best on every given day and fulfill the daily purpose without any distractions.
To the race. My legs felt like absolute shit until yesterday night and my nerves were all over the place this week. 42.2KM is a long way. The distance is intimidating but that’s a part of the fun – the unknown. Yea, I still questioned if I could actually finish the whole event. Unless you’re the mentally strongest individual on earth, I think we all have race day nerves and ask those weird questions in our heads.
The race had three pace groups with the final pace group going through halfway at 66:00. That time was a little hot to handle so I planned to get in a group with some guys that wanted to go 2:15ish. Off the start, I met up with Frank Schauer (a German athlete) and a couple other guys to form our crew. It was sick, we were like the Avengers… but didn’t have anything to avenge. And we had no super powers. And we didn’t have money like Tony Stark. So I guess we were just a group of guys out for a run. Anyways, we stuck together until 32KM. Frank created some separation until 34KM when we all rejoined. At that point, we were passing dudes very frequently. I’d say we passed 15-20 guys over the final 10K. I guess we could be called the Hamburg Rat Pack because we were up to no good over those final KM’s.
At the 39/40KM mark, I felt strong and pulled away from the group. Nothing really exciting to report, just a good ol’ fashioned grind-fest that was run smart and evenly. Kind of text book actually.
Overall, I’m very happy with the time because I did my absolute best. It’s a PB and those need to be celebrated, always. There’s a lot of people back in Calgary that have helped contribute to this moment that I can’t thank enough. For how challenging and demanding the sport can be during training, it’s so rewarding to put your feet up after a job well done and I think that sense of accomplishment is the reason why most people get into the sport and continue to strive for new PB’s.