A hard day’s work at the Salzburg marathon

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I knew it after 3 ks: this was going to be a tough race. Whenever on such occasions my feet aren’t running by themselves, I know that it is going to be a hard and long, long way to the finish line. I hadn’t felt well all through the week before the marathon and never really managed to translate my planned marathon speed into one of my training runs before the event. Thus, I didn’t have high expectations for the run but little did I know how difficult it was going to be.
I had planned for a speed of 4:00 min/km but too soon I realized that this was just a dream. Still the first half marathon went quite well with 1:25:39 hrs (4:04 min/km) but with the temperatures rising, my speed declined very soon into the second half, clocking in at about 4:10 after 23 ks and deteriorating to 4:15 at 25 ks. With 17 ks still to run, my stomach started to churn and I had to stop and seek the bushes: diarrhea. It was terrible and a very difficult situation. My feet started to cramp and I found it very hard to gather speed again. It turned out, however, that it was a good decision to stop and get the bad stuff out of my body. At least, I could keep up my former speed and thus I continued, still struggling, though, along. Every kilometer seemed to be too long and the heat didn’t make things better. It was a tough run, a real struggle, and all I was running for was to see the finish line. Little did I care about the time anymore, just trying hard to set one foot in front of the other, doing my best to get enough fluid into my body, hoping that it would keep it.
Thus I was approaching the finish, getting slower with every kilometer. As the finish line was only 900 meters away, the worst thing happened that can happen to a marathon runner: my left thigh started to cramp and wouldn’t let go. I had to stop and could only walk. After 200 meters, my muscle, fortunately, relaxed again, giving green lights for me to continue along. With what seemed my last energy, I crossed the finish line in somewhat disappointing 2:56:46 hrs on position 51 overall.
It was a tough race, one of the toughest I had ever run, and disappointment soon gave way to a special kind of satisfaction about how I had continued the race despite all the problems and fall backs, still managing to finish with an acceptable time. It is easy to run with good legs on a bright day, but it is a completely different affair to run 42.195 ks when your feet are bad with the sun burning down on your tattered body.
And still the day had its happy ending: my friends from our team, Jörg, Vinzenz and Christian ran great races and thus our team, Running Team Stefflhof Adventures became 3rd in the team marathon. Congratulations, guys, that is just incredible: 3rd best marathon team in Austria.

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