Ack!i can’t believe I’ve been here a week already! I am really behind with posts and should start with the marathon since that is what launched this whole trip anyways. That said, I did not prepare for it at all. Like, at all. My longest run in distance was the half marathon i paced at Tobacco Road March 15. My longest run by time was 2 hours on March 28. Needless to say I was just praying for survival. To have a good time, as good as one can with little to no training, and not hate myself for the next week bc of how much trauma I subjected my legs to.
Taking a red eye to Europe 3 days before the race probably isn’t advisable but my family had a condo at Sea Island for 2 weeks and I was trying to maximize time with them before I left. Of course I couldn’t sleep on the direct flight from Atlanta despite the completely flat personal pod bed I had in business class, courtesy of Judy. So with an hour of sleep I tried to maximize the day with Dirk and his aunt/uncle, our hosts. A trip to the phone store for a SIM card, the bakery for delicious goodies including:
and a little tour of Gerresheim, the quaint suburb we’d call home for a week or two then a Quick nap before a drive downtown to the less than interesting race expo to get our bibs and race shirts (extra purchase required), and some silly pics with the bmw display:
Dirks aunt and and uncle only put about 5000 miles on their car annually but were super sweet to drive us downtown and then parked in a deck and couldn’t find the car again! We finally tracked it down and headed to his cousins house for a 4 year olds birthday party which basically entailed adults drinking alcohol and eating cake 😂. It was a gorgeous day so eventually we all moseyed to my first Biergarten for a Radler (Pilsner with sprite, literal translation “cyclist”):
So despite being jetlagged and all it was a great day. Then I slept for 12 hours. God bless. My little fold out bed in the attic is too cute and comfortable. Hiltrud treats me like a daughter and I could not be more grateful.
Oh so marathon… Ok Saturday we went downtown again on the above ground train and walked and walked and drank some altbier and ate some Lebanese food (yum!) and did things one probably ought not do the day before a marathon (goal race or shot in the dark, either way), but it was fun and Düsseldorf is super cool. We made our plans and went to bed and I tossed and turned til 3am bc that’s what happens the night before a race, right? Thankfully it was a 9am start so the alarm went off at 6:30 because “the bus was leaving at 7:30!!”
hiltrud and Verne drove us to a train station to meet up with dirk’s friends Archie and Anya who were also running. We rode the train downtown to the start where their other friends took our personal belongings so we didn’t have to deal with bag check and after a news interview, some selfies, and a couple trips to the toi-toi we were off. I positioned myself just ahead of the 4:00 pacer, bc despite by extreme lack of preparation, that was my ridiculous goal, and I’d even had this personalized pace band made for me at the expo with my name and 5k splits for a 4:00 finish. One of the pacer was a friend of Archie’s who I met the night before while guzzling altbier and laughing nervously about how I used to pace 4:00 marathons myself.
sub 9s were not the plan but the course was flat and that’s what just kept clicking off. I was anxious and afraid. There weren’t a ton of spectators early on, but good pockets of them kept me energized and I was trying to run super easy and ignore my watch. Stick to the nutrition plan, check your form, keep it easy, no heavy Breathing…. I tried to hang with some English speakers for a bit just to actually have some distraction but they were just a tad too fast so I backed off. It’s remarkable how quiet a bunch of foreign language speaking runners can seem.
the cobblestones were worrisome but didn’t last long. the one “big” bridge we crossed twice was negligible. the spectators were blaring great american music from balconies and curbs. I couldn’t remember where Hiltrud and Dirk’s cousins were going to be but I knew second half, so after a 1:57:50 first half I kept scanning the crowds. At mile 16 I popped in a toi-toi, truly a first for a race I was running for myself (i’ve only ever stopped mid race when pacing, weird), but it was quick and easy. until I started running again and my legs revolted. I thought maybe my race was over and I was dreading a potential run/walk/hobble to the finish. but I kept praying and had those silly Fillnow positive mantras in my head, and by God it worked!
Somehow I kept going, and sure, it hurt, I mean, you read I hadn’t run over 13.1 miles since uh, Nov 2? I did see the cousins and Hiltrud and Verne at mile 17/18 yelling “USA” and jumping around, and the bag holding friends around 24? A cup of coke from a stranger at 22 saved the day and I managed to hold on to a decent pace all the way til the end for a 3:58 finish, even passing Archie who was hoping for a 3:45!
I waited for him at the finish and of course then it started raining on us (at least it held off during the race?). Why in God’s name did they have huge tents of non-alcoholic beer at the finish I have NO idea, but we got goody bags with a towel and shower soap (they had onsite shower tents), a box of dry spaghetti, a bottle of apple juice, and some kleenex, in a reusable grocery bag. I mean, weird? Our meet up spot was at the Uerige a few blocks from the finish festival so we just navigated over there in our nasty wet clothes, in the rain, to find Dirk, who was actually in the shower still. We stopped for some Schumacher altbier at a pop up biergarten in the city hall square en route and the manager who is friend of my new friends loaned me her jacket to help with my shivering haha. Everyone here is so nice!! even after I changed into my dry clothes I was freezing so Archie gave me (like for keeps!) his sweatshirt:
In the midst of our social media posts and celebrating we realized that Somehow Dirk managed to lose his baggie with money, coaster for 5euro post race dinner and house keys. It wouldn’t be until that evening that he recalled laughing at the emcee announcing someone had lost their bag with coaster at the start line. It would be a few days til we confirmed it was in fact HIM we were laughing at hehe. Regardless we had a great post race celebration with lots of friends and family that carried on from the Uerige to a local bar back in Gerresheim near the house. I ate a currywurst and lost count of altbier and was eventually talked into trying a killepitsch, a local liquor much like jager that is sold out of a window in old town. hey, when you shock the hell out of yourelf with a sub 4 marathon you can treat yourself to some local delicacies 😉
apparently you can also sleep til 11am the next day, because that’s what we did, and no one gave me hell for it 😀 I ended up on the news twice, in the paper, and with decent race photos i’ll share once i purchase. Dusseldorf marathon done and done!