Viborg Half Marathon 2009
Weather: 17-18ºC, mostly sunny, with a fresh breeze. The sun was warm, but the breeze felt cold. A classic and beautiful Danish September day, and fast running weather.
Part 0: Getting there
Stressful up to the race, as all plans was changed several times in the last two days, causing some friction. But I was left at the start line about an hour before the start and had to fend for myself thereafter, including the trip home. Thankfully there was a reasonably safe place to drop my luggage.
As I started warming up with 30 minutes to go, jogging very easily, I glanced at my heart rate after 2 minutes: 160! What! I’d expected something at least 20 bpm lower. That was quite unsettling, because even a little nervous as I was, I have never ever seen such high heart rates running that easy.
I jogged around a little more, checking everything, and I was feeling perfectly OK, nothing wrong, so I choose to just ignore my high heart rate an did a few accelerations and a bit of tempo and saw my heart rate almost not react at all. Weird. It mostly just stayed at 160±5 or so. I was worried, but had no good reason not to proceed with the race. Could be a Garmin software glitch.
So, 10 minutes to go, and I lined up towards the back figuring that would give me an easy start so I could ease into it and see how I reacted. It also seemed like I was one of the last to line up.
Part 1: Getting into it (0-7 km)
Average 5:20/km @ 168 bpm.
The gun went off, and people started walking towards the start line. I just walked slowly and at the start line I could start jogging, but several times in the first 500 m the congestion was so bad that I had to slow to a walk. I saw a woman powerwalking the first part, I think she was a lot smarter than most, including me.
The road cleared up slowly, but I don’t think I ever had more than 3 m to the nearest other runner at any point in the race until the last 3 km.
My heart rate was behaving normally now, but I was running at a pace that I would normally expect a heart rate around what I had seen at my warm up.
There were aid stations every 3 km or so, and I had decided to take a walk break at each one. At the first two I didn’t get anything but water, although the organizers claimed there would be both water and some sort of unspecified sports drink at each aid station. It took until the 3rd one for me to figure out that there was sports drink, it was just unmarked and you had to guess where it was. Very annoying.
The start of the course was mostly downhill with a few climbs and a little out-and-back thrown in for good measure.
I hit 5 km in about 27 minutes, and hit my stride perfectly at that point too, I was at the right pace, right heart rate (just under 170 bpm), all was well.
The mostly downhill part of the course stopped at around 7 km.
Part 2: Flat, mostly (7-14 km)
Average 5:16/km @ 174 bpm.
The middle part of the course was predominantly on a path along a lake with a view towards Viborg on the other side. Pretty.
The path was not very wide, and I still had to occasionally accelerate a little for 2-5 steps to get past people, but I was still passing people, as I had been all along, and it felt easy to make those small accellerations.
Nothing much happened in this middle 3rd of the course.
I hit 10 km in 52:48 I remember, and I thought that was fine. And that’s the last split I can remember.
Towards the end of the lake shore run there was a pretty steep climb, about 1.5 minutes I think, and there I saw that I was stronger than many runners around me, not because I ran faster up the hill, but because as I crested the hill I accelerated compared to many others. Nice. The following downhill, after a little flat section further boosted my confidence, as I could see I was the fastest downhill runner.
After another aid station, and a few narrow paths the course turned back into town and away from the lake.
Part 3: Hills! (14-21)
Average 5:02/km @ 185 bpm.
As the course hit town again I knew the hills would begin, I had heard people talk about them. but I didn’t know how bad it would be, so I had held a little more back until now just to be on the safe side.
At 14 km the road started climbing. A little up that hill the course turned onto a street with an aid station and that street just continued climbing. I think that climb must have been 1.5 km or more, nasty stuff. Some other runners was starting to walk at this point. After a lot of climbing the course turned downhill again and I started running faster than everyone around me. That felt great.
And that was how the last part of the course went, up and down, albeit shorter hills. There was even a 1 km section of pavé. And I just got stronger it seemed, keeping pace uphill, getting faster and faster downhill.
I had enough gas in the tank that I did something thet felt close to 10 km race pace for that last part. Up and down hills. The only flat section I can remember was the finish, it was about 300 m. I gave it my last and crossed the line being careful not to look at my watch or stop the timer so I’d look cool in the finisher photo. Then I stopped the time at 1:49:28 and saw 198 flashing (my max last year was 207 in a 10 km race). Good effort.
And it turns out there was no photographer at the finish line.
Total: 1:49:26, 5:12/km (official times) and 176 bpm.
Part 4: Food.
At the finish line I was greeted by a pretty girl handing out Cult cans. They’re like Red Bull, caffeinated and full of sugar with a strange taste. And they’re just what you need after a race.
Then I walked on to the tables full of fruit and had some water to drink before I got my luggage and went for a shower and slipped into something more comfortable (compression tights of course).
By then it was almost 2 hours until my train home, so I had time to kill, and I used that to hunt down a burger. I found a place and ordered my burger and sat down. Then the waitress came and said “sorry, we’re out of buns because the whole city is closed down for the race so we haven’t been able to get fresh supplies.” I ended up with a pizza instead. One of the greasiest pizzas I’ve ever had. I only enjoyed it because I was craving junk food at that point.