As I've mentioned before, races in Denmark don't start painfully early. Today, the half and full marathon started at 10 am.
We drove a little over an hour from Næstved to a seaside town in the northern part of the island of Sjælland called Kalundborg.
Never have the many windmills of Denmark produced as much energy as today. Normally, I'd be happy about that, but not today. SR (in his incredibly generous and sweet way) offered to run the half marathon with The Lorax in the babyjogger, while I ran the full marathon. I felt terrible for SR because of the wind and was hoping that The Lorax wouldn't start crying in the middle of his race.
As always, I sized up the competition at the starting line. There was a very thin, strong looking woman who had a marathon number on. She did a bit of a double take when she saw I also had a marathon number. She was lined up right at the front. I'm sure she figured I had nothing, though, what with my baggy pants and big, turquoise mittens.
And really, I didn't feel like a had much competitive fire in me today. I had actually been out of class on Friday because of a terrible brochitits that had kept me up most of Thursday night. Plus, my previous marathon PR (the only marathon I've run, now almost 3 years ago) was 3:44.
The route was two out and backs (the first with the half marathoners). We started in a stadium in the city and ran up rather enormous hills (for Denmark) into the blustery wind of the countryside.
At the start, I was the leading marathon woman. About 1km into the race, a guy with the best looking behind I've ever seen sped by me with a baby jogger.
At 5km, we started to ascend the hills. And a young woman with a marathon jersey on caught up to me. I then sped ahead, just to create cushion. I figured she was too young to know how fast to start, anyway. Time would tell.
I actually felt great and was doing between 4 and 5 minute kms, just as planned. I was smiling and listening to my music and enjoying the sun when I realized that the terrible wind was, of course, at our backs. I hate that feeling.
I made it into 10k in 48 minutes (a little under what SR had suggested). And then the run into the wind started. Oh, man. I could barely make forward motion. My baggy clothes acted like a sail and my 50kg did not hold me fast to the ground. Men and women passed me left and right. But somehow all of the women were half marathoners. The terrible wind lasted about 6km and then was at our side. It was at this point I realized I was starving. The next aid station just had fruit... what?!?! Man, I hate fruit. Anyway, I ate an apple slice and felt a bit better.
I came into the half marathon point at 1:45 and first marathon woman.
Somehow SR had survived the wind with the baby jogger and managed to get 4th place in the half marathon! He was right when he said he had "gotten his super powers back." (there was some fear he would lose his "super powers" when he moved back to his native land)
My knees were hurting at this point because I (so stupidly) wore racing flats. WHAT was I thinking? I toyed with the idea of changing shoes at the half way point, but not knowing how far in the lead I was, I didn't want to risk losing the time. Shortly, the pain in my knees went away and after enjoying a little european chocolate, I got a second wind. I managed to do the first 10k of the second half of the race in 50 minutes. At this point, I realized I was going to survive.
There were no women behind me to be seen, so I hunkered down to battle the wind once again, this time a bit more optimistically. I was slowly starting to pass the men around me. I wasn't speeding up, they were just slowing down.
The banging on the asphalt with my racing flats began to take it's toll and I developed the most excruciating neck pain. For the rest of the race, the only thing I enjoyed was my music (Birds by Frida Hyvönen was a favorite) and, of course, the fact that I was the leading woman. The end of the race was eternal. But when I approached the end, Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush came on and I started having fun despite the neck pain.
I came into the stadium area finish and saw SR with the Lorax with a very small crowd (everyone was in the clubhouse because it was so cold and windy). I crossed the finish line in 3:39, thus winning the marathon for the women.
The race directors were very congratulatory and handed me a 300 kr. prize and a medal. Cool!
I had a coughing attack, which I was a little embarrassed about. And then I attempted to speak with the race directors and workers with my accent, which I was even more embarrassed about. They were surprised I had an 11 month old baby (and SR pointed out that this was likely the last time I'd get any kudos for being a new mom runner.
We then enjoyed some warm soup and bread in the hyggelig clubhouse and spoke with a bunch of other runners.
It seems like long distance runners all over the world have the likable, laid back personality and are just the type of people who enjoy talking to and meeting others.
Happily my neck pain promptly went away. But I'm never running another marathon in racing flats.
I owe SR big time for running with The Lorax. Our next marathon is hopefully in March. Then it will be my turn to run the half with the baby jogger.
Running Song of the Day: Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.
"Children are fascinated by the ordinary and can spend timeless moments watching sunlight play with dust. Their restlessness they learn from you. It is you who are thinking of there when you are here. It is you who thinks of then instead of now. Stop. Let your children become the teachers and you the student" - William Martin