Here are some random thoughts about last Sunday's Munich Marathon:
Perspective: Last Sunday's race was one of my less stellar races. But every runner that I know has had both good and bad races. I have been very lucky because my good races outnumber the bad ones by a lot. I have had very few truly awful races. If it was the other way around, I would have quit running and racing long ago. Even though I had a disappointing (at first) experience in Munich, it will definitely not deter me from racing again. It's the bad races that make me appreciate the good ones even more. Now that a few days have passed, I am satisfied with how I did in Munich. I was tempted to quit the race, but I kept going all the way to the finish. Even with walking during a lot of the last 12 kilometers, I made it to the finish line with lots of time to spare. In an ideal world, all of our races would be great and each one would bring a new personal best. But we don't live in an ideal world and we have to take the bad with the good, learn from our experiences, then move on to training for the next race.
The Mental DJ: I started off the first half of the race with The Sweet's "Little Willy" in my head. It's a fun song to run to. In the second half the tunes switched between George Thorogood's version of "Move It On Over" and the French nursery rhyme about the bridge at Avignon (Sur le pont d'Avignon...). My mother used to sing me the Avignon bridge song when I was a child.
Dreams Really Do Come True: I have mentioned my pre-race nightmares in previous posts. On Sunday one of them actually came true. Sunday morning I woke up at about 3 am after having a dream about being in a parking garage and not being able to find my way out despite following other drivers to the exit. When I woke up, I started thinking, "How do I get out of the Olympic stadium parking lot and back home again?" When I had run Munich before, my husband was there to drive me home and I never paid attention to how we got back onto the Mittlerer Ring. When I ran the half-marathon that accompanied the marathon in 2010, I took the U-Bahn (subway/metro) from the stadium to my favorite park-and-ride. As I left the parking lot, there was a sign saying the road to Stuttgart/Lindau/Garmisch was on the left and the way to Nuernberg and Salzburg was on the right. Then the road split. The right fork had two lanes and the left fork had one. Because of the sign, I took the left fork, which was really the entrance into the stadium from the Mittlerer Ring. I was really supposed to take the right fork but stay in the left lane. Therefore, I ended up going the wrong way. But, as the name implies, the Mittlerer Ring is a ring road. I knew that if I kept going I would eventually get to the Garmisch autobahn. On my wrong-way journey I discovered a tunnel that looked like something out of a science fiction movie. It was brightly lit up in white and Day-Glow green.
Running Apps: During one of my pre-race bathroom stops inside the stadium I was talking with two women. One was older and the other was younger. The older woman said that she was running her 38th marathon. The younger was running her tenth. I felt like such a novice because I was *only* running my fifth marathon. Our personal best times were within 3 minutes of each other's. Then the younger woman asked me which running apps I used. I pointed to my watch and told her that my watch was my running app. I don't use high-tech running apps because I don't really need to know my training distances to the 23rd decimal place and times to the nearest nanosecond.
The Kindness of Strangers: My husband was unable to come up to Munich on Sunday. Normally he's my official photographer. But I brought a camera with me and asked random people to take my picture both before and after the race. Everyone was happy to oblige. I even took someone's picture before the race. I figured that if someone really wanted to steal my cheap camera, he or she was welcome to it.
Stauwarnung (Traffic Jam Warning): When I ran the half-marathon that accompanied the marathon in 2010, both races started at the same time. The half-marathon started at the halfway mark of the marathon. This year it started three hours after the marathon. I can understand why the start times were staggered. In 2010 the U-Bahn was like the Tokyo subway at rush hour both before and after the race. It was barely breathing room only. With different starting times, the subway trains would be less crowded, at least in the morning before the race. But it seemed to be a problem for the runners because there were fast half-marathoners mixing with the slow marathoners. A lot of the slow marathoners were literally being pushed out of the way by the fast half-marathon runners. It also made the course more crowded. The good thing is if I decide to run the half-marathon next year I won't have to leave for Munich so early.
Refreshments: The organizers deserve a big pat on the back for having plenty of refreshments at both the water points and in the stadium after the race. I have been in races where the slower runners had almost no chance of getting water or food because they had run out. I remember one half-marathon in San Diego where the runners were asking homeowners for water from their garden hoses because they had run out of drinks at the water points. It's always nice when race organizers realize that not everyone is an elite runner and that slow runners also need water, sports drink, and food.
Numbers: There were over 18,000 runners in the four races on Sunday: marathon, half-marathon, 10K, and marathon relay. Eighty-one countries were represented, 59 in the marathon. There were 4934 men who finished the marathon and 1163 women. It's nice to see more and more women running the marathon. When I ran Munich for the first time in 1993, it seemed like there was a 10-to-1 ratio of men to women.
I haven't decided if I will run the marathon next year or the half-marathon. There's still plenty of time to figure it out.