Saw a runner wearing a t-shirt with that written on her back half-way round the Vienna marathon on Sunday...about 10km further on I was thinking I should have asked her where she bought it so I could get one too!
As I mentioned before, the coincidence of Vienna marathon and EGU General Assembly was too good to miss so we signed up some time ago. But especially with the surprise run at Chesterfield, I didn't have massive motivation for serious training and over the last few months we've also been a bit busy with trips both professional and personal. So although I started out with good intentions, my mileage was well down on what I managed last time, though doing some running with the local club did increase the intensity. Jules has been an even more intermittent runner through injuries. But we thought it would be fun to take part in this big event anyway, having watched it a couple of years ago. We came out to Vienna on Friday, and are staying in a lovely apartment (found via Airbnb) on Nestroyplatz, handy enough for the town centre and ideally placed for the EGU and marathon (which started at the same place). Picking up our race numbers the day before the race was a bit of a pain to be honest - why can't they just post them? - but having seen plenty of Vienna over the years we were not desperate to traipse around touristing and apart from my early morning jog along the canal we had a restful Saturday.
The start was sunny, it wasn't really hot but was slightly concerning that we were not at all cold despite setting out from our apartment around 8am in mininal race gear and standing around on the start for a full 30 mins. The clothes trucks were timetabled to shut at 8:15 so we didn't use them, in reality they stayed at least until 8:35. For future reference, we could have turned up rather later and had no problems getting to the start on time.
The start was well organised with the main body of runners starting off in three waves, so no-one had huge delays getting going as has happened before (especially Tsukuba for us). I was in the first wave just behind the handful of elites who went off a minute ahead and were soon out of sight.
Despite the limited number of miles in my legs I did think I'vd been running reasonably fast recently (including 25k in sub-3h pace on a windy day), and Vienna is fairly flat, so I had hopes of some improvement over my previous best time which had been on a hilly course with a very thin field. I didn't have any detailed race plans other than to limit my pulse to about 150 over the first half, but had also worked out that setting out at 21 mins per 5k would bring me in at about 2:58 even allowing for a slight slowing. The 2nd kilo had a big downhill so I wasn't all that concerned when I started off a bit quick and my official 5k split times through to 30k were an impressively smooth 20:07, 21:01, 21:00, 21:00, 20:24, 21:00. I knew I was going a bit fast (though not exactly how fast: my Garmin was stupidly set up so it only showed mins not seconds past the first hour, and its calibration was also significantly off from the course markers) but I felt like I was holding myself back a bit, tracking behind runners, hiding out of the wind, taking on lots of water and food (home-made Kendal mint cake) and running quite easily within myself. However by half-way (which I went through in the optimistic time of 1:27:30) my quads were starting to hurt a bit and although I pushed on for a while it all got a bit much and my legs pretty much fell off around 34k. I've never run 8k on such sore legs before and don't intend to again! Lost about 4 mins over the final stages and jogged over the line in 3:00:38, almost a minute down on Chesterfield and feeling very relieved that I got the sub-3h time already so I don't need to have another go.
The hot sunny day might also have had something to do with my fade, especially after preparing by training though a Yorkshire winter - only a few short weeks ago we were running through snow, Sunday we ran past a shop sign indicating 20C! (Historical met obs say 14C at the start rising to 18C at the end but those are of course for air temp in the shade, which was scarce.) Looking through the results, an awful lot of people seemed to fall apart towards the end, which was probably a combination of the heat and some rather exposed windy sections as the field spread out. Even some of the elite women lost 10 mins or more on the second half, which makes my own +5:38 split seem relatively tame by comparison. Jules had a fairly steady run for her half marathon, also fading a bit in the heat but not as badly as many around her. So although with hindsight I obviously set out a bit too fast, it wasn't by a huge margin. On a cooler and calmer day I might have got away with it. My position of 206 in the men (21st in my age category) would also have been comfortably under 3h on any of the previous 5 years at least.
This time the ribs and beer came after the race, which may have been the real reason for my downfall :-) I'd say more research is needed on this point, but that would imply another marathon which is not on the cards for a while at least. There are three peaks close to where we live in Settle, it would be rude not to visit them some time...
And now we are trying to snooze in lecure rooms, though some of the talks have already been interesting and potentially useful, which makes it difficult!