Labour Day 2016, a cold, rainy 1st of May marked the start of my fourth Marathon, the first for about 1.5 years. The weather forecast looked bad for days and it came true this Sunday morning as I was sitting in the train traveling towards Aarau, the town where the start took place. It wasn’t raining too much but combined with the low temperatures a good warm up was necessary.
I felt fresh and motivated as I took a spot in the middle of about 700 runners starting to this first marathon in this part of Switzerland. My feet were already wet but I didn’t care much. A local radio station interviewed some of the starters and asked me if I’m nervous in these last minutes before the run. I wasn’t but wanted to get going to feel a bit warmer.
In the first stretch of the race we were running through an old town down to a river where the course was mostly flat. It was still raining and the wet trails splashed water around on every step. I started out a bit slower than I planned, running with a steady pace of a bit more than 5 min/km (8 min/mi) without too much effort. After about 12 km (7.5 mi) the course presented its first uphill section with a slow pitch for 5k. I was still a little cold and the small hill slowed me down quite a bit. As a approached the half marathon mark I suddenly found some energy on a downhill stretch. In the middle of some large fields I realized that the small crowd was cheering for me because nobody else was around. I was a bit separated from a larger group of runners closing in slowly to the next runners in front of me. That boosted me even more making me run faster and faster. I was running in total flow now able to lay aside every sensations of effort. While running in some steep but short uphill sections around the 30km (18.6 mi) mark I was wondering when I’m going to hit the wall and how hard it will hit me. Around three hours into the run the rain stopped and my energy reserves were running low. Now the tough part began, I took another energy gel and just kept on running. My pace was maybe a bit less than 5 min/km and my will to keep going for the last 5k was still strong. My eyes focused on the runner just in front of me as I was trying to get closer. I passed her and took a right turn that brought me from the nice riverbank trail right in to the town where I was only 2km away from finishing my fastest and joyful Marathon race so far. After some more turns in the middle of the town I saw the finish line and spotted my parents and girlfriend in the cheering crowd along the last couple of meters. With a big smile I came in with a new PB of 3:32:41 running over 15 minutes faster than my fastest Marathon before.
Despite the bad weather I had a lot of fun running in this premier of the Aargau Marathon that led me through some great fields and forrest trails. The rest of the day I spent mostly eating and relaxing. I recovered surprisingly fast this time and went running for about an hour just two days after the race. For my next Marathon I did some hill training since the 45.5km of the Zermatt Marathon will include 2000m (6,500 yards) altitude gain with the finish line at 3100m (10,200 yards) above sea level.
I’m looking forward to that race next weekend and will write a report someday next week.