One would think that after running the same half-marathon 4 times in the past 5 years, there wouldn't be anything new and different to write about it. But every year is a unique experience.
The Munich City Run always reminds me of a big Halloween party. The shirt which you're required to wear is orange. Each year it changes slightly, but the main color is still orange. Instead of a number, runners wear the shirt. Most Germans like to wear black shorts when they race. I do too. That's one of my race rituals. For those readers who aren't from the States, orange and black are the two main Halloween colors. By the way, this year's shirt had a blue stripe on each side and white sleeves. It's a bit goofy-looking, but it's a good technical shirt.
When I'm in the starting corral, I usually end up being nose-to-armpit with some guy who decided to wait until after the race to take his monthly shower. This year I had the (mis)fortune of standing by a guy who decided to stand facing sideways instead of toward the front. He didn't just stand facing sideways; he also had his feet wide apart. In addition, he was talking with his friends, gesticulating wildly while doing so, and also moving around. Judging by the number of times that he bumped into his neighbors with his hands, elbows, or feet, he was totally oblivious to everyone around him. That guy needed a lesson in racing etiquette. The good thing is that he didn't stink.
The post-race refreshments at the City Run keep getting weaker and weaker. This year there were some bottled drinks (mineral water with different juices, or plain mineral water), apples, and Power Bars. There was also alcohol-free beer. In previous years there were big pretzels and various types of fruit at the finish area. The goodie bag was really weak. I just got my t-shirt, a brochure with information about the race, and 4 pieces of Traubenzucker (candy that's like a Sweet Tart). The good thing was that there were plenty of refreshments in the finish area. I've been to races where the organizers ran out of refreshments because of poor planning. A large quantity of a few things is much better than nothing.
At most races with a finisher's medal, the medals are given to the runners just past the finish line. After I finished, I saw some runners with medals and others without them. I thought that maybe the top finishers got them. Then I happened to look over to my left while walking through the refreshment area and saw a woman handing out medals. It was a strange location for giving out medals and probably left a lot of deserving finishers without one. I have no idea why the medals were being given out so far from the finish line.
When I was on the U-Bahn (subway) after the race, the woman across from me was still wearing her medal and admiring it. She was turning it so that the front part was facing out and kept picking it up and looking at it with a smile on her face. It turned out that this was her first half-marathon. I remember when I ran my first half-marathon and got a finisher's medal. I felt like I had just won an Olympic medal. When I drove home from that race, I proudly wore my medal. It was cool to see that other first-time half-marathoners have the same reaction that I did all those years ago. This woman looked like she was in her 50s or early 60s, which made her accomplishment even greater.
My time of 1:57:44 was good enough for 431st place out of 1386 women and 27th out of 118 in my age group (W 50-54). As my son said, "Mom, you were better than average." I don't know how I did overall because the men's and women's results were listed separately. There were 4152 men who finished the race. It seems like more and more women are doing long races in Germany. The first time I ran the Munich Marathon in 1993, it seemed like a 10:1 ratio of men to women. Even small local races had a much higher number of men than women. Now German women are realizing that, contrary to popular belief, running really isn't bad for them.
I always get disoriented going from the finish line back to the changing tent. It must have something to do with all of my blood being in my legs instead of my brain. The short way back to the tents is blocked off and everyone must follow a certain path through the refreshment area. Everything looks unfamiliar. This year there was also a walled-off construction site that I had to walk around to get to the tent, which made the way back even longer. It felt like I walked another 5 km to find the tents. At least this year I knew where the U-Bahn stop was.
I haven't figured out what my next race will be. I'm looking at a 5K in San Diego the weekend that I'm there and also a 10K in October in Wolfratshausen (between Garmisch and Munich). For now I'm going to have a nice recovery period.