Today I went to cheer for one of my colleagues who just ran her first half-marathon. And she rocked! Exactly one year ago today, I myself finished my first half-marathon at the “31st München Marathon” in Munich, Germany.
Munich Marathon Feeling
I wanted to challenge myself experiencing the full feeling of a marathon with just half the distance. The half marathon started in the district of Bogenhausen on Denninger Strasse, heading south along the original marathon route to the Olympic Park, where the highlight was running through the Marathon Arch into the Olympic Stadium.
Emotional Roller Coaster
The night before the big race was rough. I could not really sleep and I was still suffering from a stomach flu. I felt just awful. But then again, I wanted to join this competition so badly. I have to admit: I so wasn’t well prepared. Hardly any training, still recovering from the flu, very nervous – just a few hours before the start I needed to get some medication at the pharmacy.
But then my anxiety and my strong will kicked in. I went to the starting point and was happy and excited. I did not care about my finishing time, I just wanted to finish it, having fun.
My biggest mistakes
I started way too fast. The first 6k were “cursed”. I hit my fastest record for the 5k and was pretty out of breath. Afterwards, I tried to find my pace and took it more easy. Due to the stomach flu I was still suffering from, I then had been suffering from heavy cramping every now and then. But I decided to ignore it.
There were three other runners who had the same pace and they were actually pretty empowering so that I kept running in their shadows. I was in my own tunnel when I suddenly heard people shouting my name, cheering for me, giving me a high five. “What, are they really talking to me?” Man, that felt soooo good and it gave me so much strength!
Seriously, if there is ever a marathon in your city, please go and cheer for the runners. I can tell you how important the audience is. They are the reason you never give up, why you decide to pull through.
When I hit the 15k mark, I also hit rock bottom. For a second I was asking myself, if I could make it or if I should stop? But then I saw other runners who crossed my path. They were shouting at me: “You go, girl” “Don’t give up, you will manage!” Then, one runner came from behind and grabbed my hand. He smiled at me, handed me something to drink and ran with me for the next two kilometers, till I had overcome my low. Five more km to go. I already knew that I can be pretty stubborn and have a strong willpower, but boy, then I learned what you can actually do, although you are already tired. With a strong mind and the right attitude you can manage almost anything.
Almost there! There was THE tunnel, I was right in front of the famous Marathon Arch. I made it to the Olympic Stadium! When I ran through the tunnel, noticing the music, I got tears in my eyes. “I made it, I really made it!”
800 m to go and I had the biggest smile on my face! I really did it. I DID IT! I cannot really explain all the thoughts and feelings going on at that time. Pain, pure happiness, cramping, goosebumps, relief, tears, shiver, excitement. Boy, I don’t think I have ever felt like this before. I was proud of myself and could not wait to hug my best friends.
My first and LAST real running competition
I am still very proud of what I have accomplished. But I have to admit, that I also learned a lot about myself. If I hadn’t paid that much money and pressured myself so much in joining the half-marathon, I would not have taken part in the competition when being ill. I will never be so stupid again, forcing my body to do something this extreme when I am actually ill.
I also learned that running competitions are not my thing. It was an awesome experience and I will never forget it. But competitions are not the reason why I love running. I love to go running to feel free, to be alone, get rid of any stressful thoughts, enjoy nature and be at total peace.
Thus, I still love to go long-distance running, but not in a huge crowd – rather alone, loving nature and appreciating life. Because that is the reason why I became a runner. It calms me down and makes me happy and peaceful.
photo credits: V’s World, München Marathon