I DID IT! Swiss Alpine Marathon K42 - Race Recap

OK, expect an over-emotional and over-enthusiastic race recap. Sorry, but that's just how it's going to be! ;)

Me at the Scalettapass at 2.606 meters / 8.550 ft
Just to get this clear
This was going to be my first marathon...ever! And I only picked up running seriously 7 months ago. During the race a lot of runners told me that I was absofreakinlutely out of my mind for running a mountain marathon as my first marathon. They all told me to start with a flat course and work up to a mountain course in a couple of years. But, hey, that's just not me! Then again, they did congratulate me on the accomplishment. And that's what counts, isn't it? (I already knew that I'm completely out of my mind...;) what else is new ;) )

The race started at 11.30 AM in the town of Bergün. Bergün is about a 1 hour-trainride away from Davos, where the finish of the race was, and where I was staying. Took the 8.50 AM train for a beautiful trainride through the villages and landscapes surrounding Davos. We entered the town of Bergün at 9.55 AM and walked to the waiting area. The sun was out and it was already getting hot (what a relieve after the cold and rainy weather we had the days before!), so I just waited around in the sun and tried to relax a bit. Ofcourse, relaxing was not really relaxing, since I was still freakin' nervous!
The waiting area was well organized! Enough to drink and eat, and - most important - a lot of toilets!
At 11.15 AM I walked up to the start line and waited for it all to begin. At that moment I was actually feeling quite calm. That totally changed when the race started!
There we go!
At 11.30 AM the race started! Woohoo! I was so nervous, that I was actually feeling sick. Luckily, I felt a lot better as soon as we ran through Bergün again (at the 2K / 1.3 miles-point) and saw the crowd cheering at us! Your name was on the race BIB, so people were actually screaming my name; wow!
Uphill to Chänts
We left Bergün and went uphill to Chänts. The Swiss say that this is a slight uphill run. Well, that's just a plain lie; it's steep! Silly Swiss! It was 10.1 K to Chänts and we had to climb 457 meters / 1.500 ft. I was fine, up and running, 'till the 5K-point. But that's where it became too hilly for me to run, and I started walking as fast as I could. Most of the other runners started walking too, because they didn't want to get too tired before the really steep uphills started. It was so beautiful and quiet up there! I ran (well, walked) into Samantha. Great to see her! Her calf was all cramped up and she was going back to the start line. I was feeling so sorry for her!
I entered Chänts (beautiful little town) after 1.15 hours of running at 12.45 PM. Had a Powerbar Energy Gel and some water. They had some cold sponges and I used these to cool my face and neck. Great idea of the race crew!
Uphill it was!
The elevation chart of the Swiss Alpine Marathon K42
After Chänts the real horror begins. Uphill to the Keschhütte that is! On mountain trails. We had to climb 810 meters / 2.658 ft in 5.7K. That's steep! I used my video camera a lot, and that way I had an excuse to stop once in a while. Smart, huh? :) Took some great shots! Saw a blind runner with a buddy that was up there for the 78K(!) Ultramarathon distance of the Swiss Alpine Marathon. Wow!; told him how great I think it is what he was doing.
It was hard climbing up there. I was so glad when I finally saw the Keschhütte, that I actually shouted out 'YES!'. Embarassing, I know, but I was so glad to see the Keschhütte! Incredible views up there, and such a gift to be able to run up there. I reached the Keschhütte after 2.45 hours at 14.15 PM. Planned on being there in 2.30 hours, but decided that I wanted to use my video camera as much as I could.
Alphafoto.com took pictures up at the mountain. Here are some that were taken at the Keschütte (2.632 meters / 8.635 ft):
No, I was def not trying to look pretty; I was trying to push myself up that mountain! Hence the arms...
Downhill to Alp Funtauna
I had a Power Bar Energy Gel and some water at the Keschhütte and walked around a bit to enjoy the views. Got compliments from the race crew on my running skirt and couldn't stop smiling because of that!
After the Keschhütte it went downhill to Alp Funtauna. 440 meters / 1.444 ft in 5.4K. After all the uphill walking, I was finally able to run for a bit again! I was careful, though. It was steep and muddy/slippery. These slippery/wet mountain trails are dangerous, and I didn't want to fall down the mountain (would've been faster, though ;) ). Oh, and ofcourse I stepped in some cow poo up there; these Swiss cows are everywhere! Reached Alp Funtauna pretty fast and had some GU (vanilla bean - my fave!) and water. Alp Funtauna is at the Half Marathon-point, so I figured I was halfway there. Little did I know what came next...
Another climb! I made the mistake of looking up. I really should not have done that! From Alp Funtauna, you have to climb up to the Scalettapass. Rocky mountaintrails + climbing 414 meters / 1.358 ft in 2.6K = complete horror! Halfway up there, I actually started to feel sick. I was so tired. Slowed down quite a couple of times and enjoyed the views. That helped. Also, I chatted with other runners (well, at that point, we were just walking/struggling to get up there). Everyone was so nice and positive that we would make it. :) That pulled me through it. And; I got a lot of compliments on my red plaid running skirt! A lot of runners asked where I got it, and I told them. So, runningskirts.com; I gave you a lot of free PR! ;)
Finally, after 4.41 hours at 16.21 PM, I reached the Scalettapass! Great feeling! Had some bouillon (salt!), water, another GU (chocolate outrage) and some Coca Cola (that worked!) and sat around for a couple of minutes.

Downhill to Dürrboden

After the Scalettapass it went downhill to the town of Dürrboden. Difference of 600 meters / 1.965 ft in 4.3K. I didn't know how I did it, but I went down that mountain like a rocket. Jumping from rock to rock (dangerous, I know...). Reached Dürrboden after 5:24 hours of running at 16:54 PM. Had another GU (vanilla bean, ofcourse), some water, bouillon and Coca Cola. Texted my mom that I had another 14K to go, and took off again.

Me at Dürrboden, goofing around; I was actually still feeling sick; I was just so tired!

Downhill to Davos...well, no, think again
The last 14K were supposed to be all downhill. Well, I have to admit, it was kind of downhill, but it was a hilly kind of downhill. Every time it went uphill again, I had to slow down and walk; that's how tired I was. My legs were feeling OK, but my hips were killing me. And I was still feeling sick. Stopped taking energy gel, and figured I'd better stick with the Coca Cola.
The last 14 K were beautiful, though! Through a mountain valley; very quiet. And then for the last 3.5K you ran through the forest and the city of Davos. The sharp left into the forest was uphill again (ofcourse...), but at that point I just wanted to get it over with.
And then, just as I reached the point where I really wanted it to be over and was prepared to crawl the last miles, I saw the 40K sign and realised I was almost there. I chatted with a runner that was about to finish the 78K (!!!) ultramarathon distance of the Swiss Alpine Marathon, and he pulled me through that last 2.2K! We decided to book it for the last 1K and ran into the city of Davos as two rockets flying out into the sky!
Saw my mom cheering at me, and took my dog Lordie at the gates of the stadium to finish together in 7:06 hours at 18.36 PM (that corresponds with a just under 4 hours flat course marathon time). In that last 1K I forgot all the pain and agony I had been in! Unbelievable! BEST FEELING EVER! I would've loved to finish in 6:30 hours (I'm very competitive), but decided I wanted to use my video camera a lot, and that it was my first marathon ever! No shame in that, is there?

Me and Lordie finishing!

Hugged Lordie to death (well, not literally, ofcourse!) after finishing and went to get my medal. :) Wow! What a well organized race! Congratulated some other runners and walked (yep, that's right, 'walked') home. So glad I didn't have to be all over the carbs anymore, we went for Cheesefondue and Swiss Beer! :) Great post-race meal!
So, there you have it; it's a long recap, but it was just such a great race! Was I in pain? Yep, a lot, actually every muscle from the neck down hurt. Did I want to quit? Yep, considered it, but quitting is just not me. Do I want to do this race again? Heck, YES!
And if you want to see me finish, just check out this video:


Unknown said...

Great job! Very proud of you! Well done!
X! Tjeerd

Silly Girl Running said...

Thanks! Dat is lief! :)

Becka said...

Congratulations on your finish! The course looks AMAZING, and your outfit is soooo cute, I love it!!! Great recap. What's next??

Silly Girl Running said...

Thanks! The course is amazing! :) Planned upcoming races: marathons: New York (November 2010), Paris or Edinburgh in 2011, Berlin in 2011. Several half marathons, 10 K's en 5 K's, and if I get the chance: Swiss Alpine again in 2011! Would be great to meet other bloggers at the NYC Marathon. :)

Jen Feeny said...

WOW! I am in awe! That is insane! You did fantastic and heck yeah you're allowed to live up your first marathon and take pictures/video... it's your first! You never get to experience that again! You are an inspiration girl! Bottle up that feeling, bask in the after glow and know that you can and DID!!! Can't wait to see what you tackle next if that was what you chose for your first!

Becka said...

I have a very light schedule right now in November and December. Unsure how I will feel after running my first full... in Greece :D

Renate Akerboom said...

Wow! You did a great job! And your outfit is lovely.

And 7 hours for your first marathon is not bad. And now you have a goal to reach for the next marathon: finishing in 6,5 hours. So, now you know what you're training for!

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Morgan; Thanks for your sweet comment! :) That after glow is still there! :) Great Feeling!

@ Becka; Wow, Greece! That's where it all started. :)

@ Renate; yeah, I know... 7 hours on the Swiss Alpine Marathon corresponds with a 4 hour flat course marathon time, but still...faster is always better. ;)

Sypke en Beitske said...

Gefeliciteerd! Geweldig dat je met je poedel kon finishen! :-)

AgileToes said...

Huge congrats!! What an epic first race!! I can't believe you own a plaid running skirt, you're too cute for words. The pictures you posted look a lot like what I ran through in Leadville last month. Maybe I should "Go Swiss" next year. This race sounds perfect!

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Agile Toes Thanks! :) You should def go Swiss next year! It was such a great race and such an unbelievable experience! :)

Unknown said...

You're also part of my K78 photo report!

Have a look :)

See you, mARTin

Silly Girl Running said...

Thanks, Martin for sending me the link! And glad you liked the outfit. ;) Now, I'll just have to figure out what to wear next time.:)

AgileToes said...

Silly Girl- Since you want to do this race again, how hard would it be to convince you to do the K78 next year? I keep going back to the race website, and I'm in love with this race. I HAVE to run it. I might need a Swiss sponsor who can offer a floor for me to sleep on, lol.

Silly Girl Running said...

Hahaha! Well, it won't be that hard to convince me to do the K78, actually. Was already thinking about doing that one. :) As long as I find other nutcases to participate in the K78, I'll be fine! :) Lucky for you; Davos has lots of affordable places where you can stay; especially around this race. :)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Silly Girl Running said...

Hahahaha! Thanks Urs! I know...for the Swiss it's not steep up to Chänts, but to us Dutch girls it is! ;) :) Come running in Holland once; that will be so easy for you! :) Hope to see you next year in Davos!

Miriam @ Sometimes Sporty said...

Great Job, I can't believe how amazing the shots are. And you look so pretty in the pictures! I love the skirt you chose.

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Miriam Thanks! You're making me blush. :)

Kurt said...

Hallo Silly Girl,
ich hatte das Vergnügen von Chants bis fast zur Keschhütte hinter dir, neben, vor dir zu sein.
Du warst mit deinem Outfit ein echter Hingucker(Highlight).Hat Spass gemacht
Toll. Tolle Leistung von Dir.
Herzlichen Glückwunsch
Kurt ( 291)

Silly Girl Running said...

Danke Kurt! Dass ist ganz lieb! :) Auch Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Dir!

Brian Lund said...

Great job, and wow what a race for your first marathon! I also ran the K42 and it was quite the experience.

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Brian Thanks, Brian! Congrats on your race!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Dear daugther, you make me proud! Such perseverance! Amazing! Love, Mom and Hitch

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Silly Girl Running said...

Thanks Mom! Couldn't have done it without you!

DandlelionDreams said...

Wow! I just found your blog because Runner's World featured you and this entry made me cry - don't get me wrong, not in a bad way, but because I am so proud of you...even though I don't know you :) What an achievement! I only started running this year and am currently on a break (due to sickness recovery) and every muscle of my body waits to get back to it...and your blog is just phenomenal! So inspiring, funny and motivating - stay as incredible as you are and thanks for sharing your passion! A big hello and runner's high enthusiasm from your neighbour in Germany :)

- Janine

Unknown said...

Congratulations! Just found your blog...as I'm preparing to run the same marathon. Nervous because of the high elevation. We leave a t sea level. Wanted to ask you...how did you deal with that? How many days ahead you went to Davos?... Did the elevation slow you down?
I appreciate any details...
Thank you