Volkswagen Prague Marathon 2013

May 14th, 2013 by UFO in Czech Republic, Health, Traveling

I started running in July 2011 during my preparation for the final state exams at the university. Maybe you are familiar with this situation: you do anything, just not study. After passing the exams, I suddenly got free time and decided to start moving. The beginnings was tough, but in October I ran my first quarter marathon. I started to like running more and more, and in January 2012, I did a Couch to 5K and Bridge to 10K programmes that trained me to the level when I could run 10 km in one hour. I beat my first half marathon in September in Ostrava with time 1:49, which encouraged me to think about going to marathon.

As I wrote in January, I had signed up and then started training for the Prague International Marathon (PIM). The plan was quite clear: four runs per week with increasing load, some fast runs, intervals and also very long runs. Everything was going well until I got ill. I was repeatedly ok and sick and in total missed almost half of the training sessions. I started to feel good again less than a month before the race. I was on the verge of quitting, but thanks to the great support of people around me, I endured and got most of the training in this last month.

The race took place on Sunday 12th of May 2013, but I got to pick up my starting number at least the day before. So I booked a hotel and went to Prague, already feeling very nervous. In the expo I got a number (5552), backpack and lots of materials. At the expo many sport companies were selling their stuff like clothes, shoes etc., but I was not in the mood to buy anything. Then I met with my friends, that were also going to run and we went for a dinner together (large bowl of pasta, of course).

On the 9th km (thanks to Zuzka for the photo)

During the night from Saturday to Sunday I almost could not sleep, mostly because I was very nervous, partly because my hotel room was next to the elevator shaft :-D. In the morning I had a small breakfast (I was not able to eat much) and took a tram to the area of start, where I met the support team, my brother :-). I gave him a backpack and walked to the corridor „H“ I had been assigned to. I was awaiting the start together with other 9500 runners.

The race started at 9:00 sharp with the sound of Vltava. It was very strong and emotional moment, almost indescribable. I felt very glad I was there, that I had made it to the start and that I was running my dream. It took me over six minutes to get to the starting line on the Old Town Square. The view of Pařížská street packed with runners and cheering fans was something I am never going to forget, it was simply astonishing.

I was little over-dressed, I had expected between 12 and 15 degrees and cloudy sky. However, just after the race started, the clouds disappeared and Sun started to shine. I rolled up my sleeves, kept running and hoped a cloud would come. I felt hot for the first 5 km or so, but then it started to get windy and it was all right again.

The first 15 km were very nice and calm, I was enjoying the run and the surroundings. Then I started to feel my knees, so I sped up a bit and felt comfortable again, with pace between 5:40 and 6:00 (per km). On the waterfront, south of Vyšehrad, it felt like being on a grill. Long, wide road with no shade and no wind. I compensated the heat by drinking more at the refreshment stations. I passed the half marathon mark (21,0975 km) with time 2:05. I still was on the right track to finish with time between 4:00 and 4:15.

I made it to the finish line!

The first bigger crisis came on the 24th km. My legs hurt a lot, but the feeling I am past the half gave me strength to continue. On 28th km, just before the refreshment station I consumed a energy gel/syrup/who-knows-what that turned my stomach upside down. I almost vomited, but a cup of water calmed things down. From kilometre number 29 I was running on auto-pilot, shutting down the brain and conserving energy. When I passed the sign that stated „30 km“ (time 2:58), I told myself: „now you are further than ever before, keep going“. And I kept going… 9, 8, 7 km to go, the finish line was getting closer and closer.

On the 37th kilometre I felt like visiting hell, my legs ached and burnt a lot, I felt sick and dehydrated. The reserves that kept me running for the past 10 km were out and I had to switch to walking. I walked for a minute or so and then ran again, but could not keep the pace for long. I was alternating between walking and running, looking forward to the refreshment station. When I finally got there, I took two cups of water and drank slowly while walking. I managed to start running again, almost to the next (and last) refreshment on the 40th kilometre. I forced myself to eat something, took even more water and gathered some strength for the last two km. There was a tunnel nearby that provided the much needed shade and because of that (and because of the large commercial on its entrance that said „boost your run now“ :-D) I ran again. Again, the pace did not last long, the tunnel ended with a slope, which was not very steep, but in my condition I felt like rock-climbing. I passed a 41th km sign. People on the side of the road were cheering and encouraging me to run, but I could not, my body refused that. I passed other signs: 900 m, 800 m, 700 m to go… I was almost there. Then, from out of nowhere, a strong push to my back. A nearby runner pushed me and said: „You have to run! Don't stop!“. And I ran. Don't know how, don't know where did the strength come from, cannot explain that, but I ran. The final part was the exact opposite of the starting one: Pařížská street to Old Town Square. The street was full of people as I headed towards the last gate. Blue carpet, finish line… I did it, I could not believe what had just happened. With tears of happiness and pain in my eyes I got my medal.

The hard-earned medal

My brother was waiting for me at the end of the finish corridor. I almost wasn't able to speak, but managed to tell him that I need him to take a photo of me :-). We walked to the technical area, where I got the finish time engraved on the medal and then sat down to KFC, where I drank over half litre of cola to replenish my blood sugar. I turned on my phone and got dozen of messages with congratulations from people that were watching and tracking my progress on-line. Thank you everybody for the support!

We stayed in KFC until it was time to get home. He went with me to the train station and made sure I boarded the right train. On the way home, I could not sleep, although I was extremely tired. My mind was occupied, I was replaying the memorable moments from the race and tried to comprehend what I had achieved.

Some stats:

Real time: 4:22:16
Official time: 4:28:30
Rank: 3718
Rank M/F: 3291
Rank Cat.: 1577


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