I loved the Koln Half Marathon (Koln, Germany) last year. Very well organized. Nice course. Only a 2 1/2 hour drive from where I live. And a great city to spend the weekend.
So...why not do it again this year? :)
I registered for the half a couple of months ago. October. Fall. Cooler temps. Perfect conditions to run a comfy Half. Well...about those temps... Being me, I'd been checking the weather forecast everyday in the last couple of weeks. And the weather looked great...for a city trip. Not for racing. Hmmmppppffff... Weather forecast said: hot hot hot and sunny. Hmmmpppffff...
Okay...the plan is to run a marathon in a couple of weeks, so this could be a great marathon pace tempo run, right? Okay, at least I had a plan. For once. ;)
Arrived in Koln late Friday night. Spent Saturday hitting the expo and walking around town. Sightseeing. Eating 'Flammkuchen' (local food: yumm!!!). And Saturday was already a sunny and hot day. But...according to the weather forecast, temps would be even higher on Sunday... Woo-hoo... In case you didn't know yet...I do NOT do well in heat. Not at all...
Sunday AM. The race had a 8:30-ish AM start, but it was already too hot to wear a long sleeve / arm sleeves. Well...at least I could spend the rest of the afternoon drinking beer...in the sun. ;) Check! :)
Okay: Finish in 1:54 - marathon pace tempo run.
Great: Finish in 1:52:29 or faster - new PR (the 'old' PR was from a year ago)
Woo-hoo!: Finish in 1:49:59 or faster.
Dream - never gonna happen: Finish in 1:45.
8:35 AM: Off we go! And boy...is it crowded. Too crowded!!! Way too crowded! I could NOT hold a steady pace. The whole 'slower runners on the right, those trying to pass on the left' concept doesn't seem to work here. Bummer...
I spent the next 13.1 miles / 21.1K watching my step. And other runners. No way I can settle into a comfy pace here - way too crowded. You seriously needed to be careful not to bump into another runner.
The aid stations had everything a runner could wish for (even Coca Cola), but were a mess. Empty cups all over the place. What didn't help is that the crew was 'blowing' the cups to the side of the road. Impossible thing with all these runners. However, it was pretty easy to forget about that mess. How? Well...there were so many people out...cheering us on. A-ma-zing! :) Thanks, Koln!!! :) And...it made time fly! :)
Oh...before I forget to mention....the heat. Boy...it was hot! Too hot! Wanted to ditch my tank top within the first mile, but managed to keep it on till the half way mark. That's when I stopped caring about what others might think, and took of the tank top. Hello, red polkadot sports bra! Koln residents, your welcome. ;) Oh yeah, I'm classy like that. ;)
I basically stopped looking at my watch after the 5K mark. I was too frustrated by the pace, which was sucky because of weaving through the crowds. I just start to run at a 'this feels like a tempo run' pace. Boy...it's hot. And boy, am I glad when I see the Koln Dom at the 19K mark. Just another 2K to go. In this effing heat (I feel so sorry for those poor marathon runners that have a 11:30 start...). We take a right, over some cobble stones (ouchieouch...ankle killers!), head for a bridge, turn left after that bridge...and after that...straight ahead till the finish line. BEEEEEER! :)
I crossed the finish line after 1:44:50. Happy with that. :) Really happy with that, considering that effing heat. :) Immediately after crossing the finish line, a guy came up to me and asked if I was running in a red polkadot sports bra for a reason. Ha! Well...at least I color coordinated it with my red plaid running skirt. ;)
Needless to say that I feel another 'How to mess up race photos' post coming up... ;)