This was my 10th lifetime marathon and my 7th in my year-of-8-marathons.
This was also my first marathon outside the USA (in fact my first not in CA ;).
|what's wrong with this picture?|
Toni managed (with many painful hours on the phone) to pry some frequent flyer business class tickets out of the sticky hands of the airlines so I would have the ability to stretch out on the flight...Posh!
Reading about the race it seemed to have generally good reviews but the course was a complex snakey-path that had some loops but with modifications....it is darn flat except for some small bridge cambers and such (tens of feet) and runs in mostly the old part of town so is pretty scenic. Of course if you are from the USA the entire thing is interesting and different.
|Toni, Paul, Lynne|
It's kind of interesting that the first blogger friend I actually met up with is one that lives so far away. We met at the Radhaus (city hall) and walked down one of the walking streets to a cafe in the new theater at the end of the Nyhavn ("new harbor"..new is a relative term here since it's from the 17th century ;). Of course we talked about running but Toni and I also got to find out more about how an English person came to be married to a Dane and living in CPH.
Earlier in the training season Denmark had some really nasty cold weather. Lynne caught a bad cold at the time and missed some training ....so I was a bit worried that she'd go out too fast and have a bad day. She told me now she was shooting for a 4:30 time, which seemed reasonable...but still, I was worried...more on this later.
Lynne told me she'd be wearing an orange shirt on race day so her husband and kids could find her...she had noticed that everybody in the local training clubs was wearing whites and blues and other subdued colors. Luckily, I had also picked orange (my LA marathon shirt!) to bring. This was handy for Toni finding me on the course.
Next, Toni and I decided to take the harbor tour on the "Netto" boats....the weather was just too perfect to pass up and the tour is much more fun in good weather.
After the tour, using Lynne's suggestion, we took the 1A bus and walked to the expo at the "Sparta Hallen" (Spartan Hall).
This expo was not very large and not very crowded, possibly because it's open on Thursday as well as the usual Friday/Sat. The race shirt was decent: a nike dry-fit..but in in (boring) white. NyCredit is the only sponser so at least the back of the shirt isn't too crowded. Jeeze. How about Danish flag colors i.e. red and white???
I was disappointed there was not jackets or hats for sale with the CPH marathon theme for purchase either. Boo. Oh well.
|The hyper complex course.|
It all worked out just fine
and was fast and interesting.
They don't use the disposable paper/plastic loop chips we use in the USA, they still use the thick harder card-like tags with 4 holes for your shoelaces which you need to turn in after the race. I guess it's better for the environment...but they are a pain to put on and take off.
Friday night I went to bed super early (like 9pm) as I knew I would need all the rest I can get. I slept like a log.
Saturday our friends took us touring around by car with also little walking. I was not feeling that well at all..the jet lag was in full force early in the day and I didn't feel like I could run a mile, never mind 26 of them. My stomach was also feeling a bit weird. Not good.
Lynne and I had been eyeballing the weather and it was looking like windy and heavy rain. Luckily, just in time the weather service changed their minds and said the rain would start late in the day. However, it was going to be windy (15 mph +). This could make it tough, although I am pretty good at drafting 8). A snake-y course helps: we'd be getting the winds from all directions, not just on the nose.
Saturday night only I slept about half the night but felt reasonable when I got up at 7am and had some cereal. I felt pretty normal as did my stomach. Of course you never really know until you start running for a bit...
The CPH marathon starts at the wonderfully easy hour of 9:30am. No worries about afternoon heat here..(which may bite them some year). I kitted up (using my checklist as brain not too good in the morning) and put on my trusty Kinvaras which had served me so well in the LA downpour and on my long training runs. Jonna graciously drove me to the S-tog "B" line train station nearby where I saw some other runners also waiting. The train I took had even more runners from further out of the city already onboard...nobody over the age of 30 though...
At the Start
When we got off everybody walked a km or so over the Langebro (long bridge), which would be used for both the start and finish routes (and we also run under it on the north bank of the river)
The start area was right along the south bank of the river there and already had thousands of runners milling around. The race had sold about 12,000 entries but the PA system told us that only 9200 or so were actually registered, of which 1000-ish were non Danish.
Lots of the announcements by email from the race committee and most of the PA stuff at the race was only given in Danish, but everybody speaks English so I was able to ask people around me to tell me what was going on.
There were no wave starts like SF or any kind of forced grouping...the start areas were marked by expected finishing time cards and people were expected to behave themselves and line up realistically. I had perused the results from previous years and it seemed that the Danish marathon crowd is generally a more old-school running ecosystem..the average finishing times were faster than a marathon like LA which has a lot of walkers or run/walkers.
I saw Lynne in her bright orange shirt and wished her well and lined up around the 4:15 area. I figured I would see how I felt and adjust from there on the run.
|Bent the duck.|
I did my usual trick of avoiding drinking fluids at breakfast and then bringing a disposable water bottle and chugging a cup or two of water minute before the start. I didn't do this for LA because it was so damn cold and I knew there was a lot of water stops. CPH only had 9, probably the fewest of any road marathon I've done before, so I wanted to get the hydration rolling a bit.
So far, I have never had to stop to pee during a race, and I've always finished a race reasonably hydrated (passing water in less than an hour or so).
Eventually the starting gun went off..no anthem singing or anything like that.....but nothing happened...everybody just standing there as far as the eye could see. The front was so far away you couldn't see any change.
This race had longest delay to cross the starting line I've experienced so far in a full marathon: a full 10-12 minutes. The start is narrow compared to some races. However, by the time I crossed I was running a decent pace so no impact on my chip time. It probably also had the desirable effect of spreading people out from the get-go.
Start to 10 Kilometers (6.2 miles), 58:48 min.
The wind was at our back going up H.C Anderson Boulevard (you did know that Hans Christian Anderson was from Denmark, didn't you?). I pushed the pace whenever the wind was at my back, banking some time, figuring I'd pay it back when I got headwinds. I decide to today is a day to push it just a teeny bit and see if I can beat my LA time of 4:12. I push to a pace closer to a 4:10 pace than a 4:15 pace. I'm not sure I can beat my LA time though. LA had a lot of hills but also had a big downhill the last 2 miles which gave me 2 minutes at least. LA had wind too, but sometimes the wind was at my back and pushed me along.
|sign says "RUN Bitches!"|
I was feeling good. I had no evidence of any jet lag or any of the previous days stomach funnies. The route passed by the Rosenborg slot (slot == castle), a little jewel of a place, and the Østre Anlæg park (We saw both in detail on our travels later).
The map showed a lot of places where there would be music. Me being from USA I'm thinking rock bands and such. Nope. Instead its very local marching bands, glee clubs, taiko drummers complete with belly dancers, etc. It's a very small-town feel and I enjoy it.
The course went into a tree lined more residential area just before the first water stop at 5k.
The water stop was a bit of a problem. It was not very big (long) but everybody was stopping, because it was the first and in general because people know there's only 9 of them. So, it was a zoo. It was easy to bump people coming back in when you were going for the water, etc. Yuch.
The second problem is they used plastic cups. Very hard to do the pinch-closure with them. Perhaps they are less slippery underfoot than waxed paper cups? There sure were a lot of them underfoot!
Originally I was very happy to see there was going to be banana pieces and orange slices at every other water stop. I really really like having real food during a race..it seems to make any gel induced bloating go away and gives me energy. However, I was so turned off by the crowding just getting water that I ended up not eating any fruit during the race...a second trip through the gauntlet would have been required.
|singers in faelled parken|
On that day her father was literally right across the street.... working at the Neils Bohr Institute (in those days the hubby was not allowed to be at the delivery). I'm guessing he didn't get much work done that day... ;) Fairly soon afterward they came to the USA...by boat.
All during the race during the long straight stretches I've been seeing the 4:10 pacer balloons in the distance. They are at least one minute in front of me, perhaps more. I'm not trying to keep with them but I am trying to maintain a steady pace on my Garmin of 9:21 - 9:23 min/mile.
|a newer building in the hospital complex|
where Toni was born
(As my ears get more in tune later, I realize that some people are shouting out my name from time to time with other Danish words of encouragement. They are pronouncing it as Poul which makes it harder for me to hear in all the general noise.)
10km to 20km (6.2 - 12.4 miles), 59:43 min.
|bridge over the lakes|
After that, back across the lakes and then cut right through the city and pass by Kogens Nytorv (the kings new square) then, the National Museum. Toni has told me they are going to be watching for me at about km 16-17 which I have been able to convert to miles to watch for on my Garmin.
|narrow section before|
sankt hans torv
|spire is three interwoven|
|Me at 17km|
This is so Lars can calculate the latest Toni can get to the 40km point to try to see me and to also see Lynne pick up her older boy for the run to the finish.
|up to dybbolsbro|
Eventually we come down off the bridge height and merge down on to Sønder Boulevard. Here's what a DK site has to say about this area of town:
Sønder Boulevard cuts through the inner city quarter Vesterbro like a fragment of the 1800’s dream of the great metropolis. As the years have passed there is, however, little left of the original visions. For this reason the boulevard is now being revitalised and adjusted to present needs.
Wow, that's pretty harsh. Allow me to translate to USA-speak :
"Sonder Boulevard, oh gag. What a dump...Please blame the doofuses in the 19 century, not us. We have to fix the stupid place but of course we'll do it right this time".
Meh, I don't think it's *that* bad. I like the recreational grassy media area.This entire part of the course uses the two divided lanes for the out-and-back snake-y bit.
20km to 30km (12.4 - 18.6 miles), 59:49 min.
It's in this part of the course we pass the half point, always a good time to take stock. I'm still going well, feeling good. I've had a GU about every 6 miles or so, feeling hydrated. Still planning on holding the same pace if possible. Of course the half is really more like only the quarter-energy point in the marathon, so I'm waiting to about 18 miles or so before I really find out how it's go to go down.
After passing the half we are going back to the northwest on Sonder Blvd and I look more for Lynne's orange but don't see her..pretty hard to find somebody like this but interesting to loook at all the people. By the time we get back to the Kalvebod Brygge and I go down the ramp at km 23 I can see some people that are pretty slow struggling just to go up the grade on the other side at km 18 or so.
It's along about this point we actually had some light rain. It only lasted for 10-20 minutes and I was grateful for that. The spectators kind of thinned out where the rain started (coincidentally) and I was thinking "what? CPH-ers are scared by a little rain?"...but luckily that thinking was just wrong.
Now we are coming to the part that Lynne considered to be the best part of the course: the path along the water up to Nyhavn and around the Kastellet (old fortress). At km 24 we are going up the across from the starting area and by the Nykredit (sponser) building and under the Langebro we came over after the start.
Under the bridge is the same Taiko drummers banging away that we heard when we went south through here at km 16.2 or so...loud drumming always good for a lift 8)
|right around the theater /cafe!|
But, I really don't want the sun too much..the winds are still cooling however so it's not going to get too bad. Speaking of the winds by this time I have concluded that even though medium strong they direction is so variable that they aren't really hurting me much, and the cooling effect is a good plus.
This is a very special part of the course indeed and I take a bunch more pictures here The path around the Kastellet we had not walked and so that was all new and interesting (km 28 or so).
|dk flags are flying!|
At km 29 we go back onto the residential street we hit at km 5 and the first water stop is now the 29 km water stop too 8). We have a little extra doodle that takes us off the original course through here but soon enough we are back going by the Sparta Stadium again and then the huge garden and after that the hospital again.
30km to 40km (18.6 - 24.8 miles), 59:08 min.
The bands are not playing through here and the spectators aren't as energized...didn't they get the memo that NOW is when we need them not at 10km ? But it's still good and I'm still feeling pretty strong.
Around the lakes again and I take my last picture on the narrow streets going to Sankt Hans Torv again. I have been feeling really strong for so late in the miles and I actually gun for the 4:10 pace balloons which I'm seeing again and close the distance.
Somewhere in here they were handing out small chocolates (!). The last thing I want at this point in a road race is a small lump of fatty chocolate. The road has lots of mashed chocolate down stream of them so I think a lot of people took one and then thought better of it later.
|final shot, pre-finish, km 36.5?|
Speaking of pictures, here's the process:
Pull out camera and turn on.
Look behind and make sure you aren't going to mess somebody up when you go off stride.
Slow down, raise camera and frame shot. If dark out stop completely for a second, if sunny just slow way down and try to hold your hand steady.
Turn camera off, wait for lens to retract, and put away, close flap on case.
All of this takes me off form for 15-20 seconds, no arm swing,etc. At this stage of the race, 21 miles+, your heart rate goes up and you get a bit out of breath just doing it.
This is the interesting thing about the marathon...all the bad stuff happens here and it can happen quickly. You have no reserves inside and so you have to have a very light foot on the gas. Small hills or headwinds (or taking a picture) expose this lack of power and you may feel really strong one second only to realize it was all very very fragile when you come around a corner and hit strong headwinds....
40km to Finish (24.8 - 26.2 miles), 13:11 min.
I am still holding pace and looking for Toni or Lynne's husband Thomas and two boys. I don't see them at all but i can't worry to much about that because I'm starting to get into the mode where I'm thinking about my finish time. It looks like I can indeed get a 4:10.XX if I don't have any fade from here...but I don't take it for granted at all.
What it feels like is that I'm really hammering strong. I'm sure If I looked it would look stiff and slow, but I can see that I'm better off than a lot of people..I'm passing gobs and gobs of them now.
|Still smiling at km 41!|
We turn out onto the Langebro and ugh...huge headwind and slight uphill. Reserves are called upon but it's grueling to climb. I try to draft behind a big guy but the winds are too turbulent and I can't find a pocket of still air, bargle. I'm worried that I'm into 4:11 now but hey, I'm doing my best and what's in a number anyway? Defeatist thoughts. I want the 4:10.
Eventually I crest the top of the brige and things feel better quickly...I loop down and around and on the last .3 km to the finish I pick up the pace, passing with difficulty due to the narrowness but feeling like I'm sprinting. I can see the clock and see I'm going to be in the 4:10's and I'm feeling really really good about that.
The first thing I get is some water. I'm a bit more dehydrated than I usually am so I suck that down. Of course this being DK the first thing we get foodwise is some fruit flavored yogurt ;) I also grab some orange slices, banana slices.
They have some people taking the tags of your feet so you don't have to bend over and do that yourself..that's a very nice touch. (Most people would forget to remove and recycle them so I guess they have to do that).
I realize I better get back to the start if I want to spot Lynne's finish and I push my way through the narrow area and sit in the crowds on the sidelines watching other finishers. I've never done this but I felt I should do some cheering myself for a change.
It's really interesting to see how some people are really wiped and some are really strong. I don't see Lynne yet but I do see this young guy and when I do I go "oh...my...god..", he's crying like a baby and barely moving and not swinging his arms at all. It's almost scary to see. I have obfuscated his number so you cant find his name and have the internet cause him eternal distress. He is my poster child for Bad Pacing.
He started the race running 30 minute 10k splits but hit the wall badly starting at 30km and went downhill from there. So he's been in pain for a long time. Sigh.
I never see Lynne...I'm worried that she's crashed too, or been stopped with her boy before she can get to the finish and not going to be able to finish. But, Toni is wondering where I am and so I go back to the finish area for the runners.
Along the way I find a outdoor draft beer setup and get myself a pint..MAN that tastes good! NO stupid beer pens/corrals or age checking even if you have a grey beard ;) Not stupid crap beer either but some good Carlsburg. Yum.
Major fail on the medal though. All the super buildings in CPH and they had to but a boring skyscraper Nykredit building on it?? WTF? Nykredit even has a really cool modern achitecture building they could have used, but not.
And just to make the medal even more special: They got the date wrong (one day early)! Whups. The local paper published a big mea culpa from the race director. I'm not bothered...I figure it might become a collectors item. You know, like those postage stamps with the upside down airplanes on them? (Just kidding 8)
As for Lynne? She nailed it...I was very happy for her finish in 4:43 with even splits and no wall. She was not allowed to enter the finish lanes with her son but left him with the official, sprinted to the finish and then whipped back to pick up her son!
She's already looking forward to her next race, which seems to be a characteristic of people that don't suffer badly in their first marathons ;)
Full album of pics here
Here is the full list of 5km splits and finish results from the chip timing mats. I'm very pleased with the splits.
5km 00:29:47 (split 00:29:47)
10km 00:58:48 (split 00:29:01)
15km 01:28:36 (split 00:29:48)
20km 01:58:31 (split 00:29:55)
25km 02:28:14 (split 00:29:43)
30km 02:58:20 (split 00:30:06)
35km 03:27:38 (split 00:29:18)
40km 03:57:28 (split 00:29:50)
Half split: 02:04:57
Finish time: 04:10:43 ( 2nd half 46s slower than first half)
Place men: 4796 of 7310
Place overall: 5609 of 9191
Place men, 55-59: 151 of 329
24yr male equiv: 3:34:31
40yr male equiv: 3:40:00
This is a listing of my place within the men as a function of distance, you can see that I passed almost 1700 men after 20km. This is 23% of the men's field! Kind of sad, actually, that so many guys can't pace worth a damn. It would be cool to be able to see the data for the women and see if they pace better than the men, I would bet yes.
5 KM 6576
10 KM 6523
15 KM 6449
20 KM 6471
25 KM 6191
30 KM 5842
35 KM 5421
40 KM 4883
Mile splits from my Garmin, the average pace came out 9:21m/m vs reality of 9:30m/m due to GPS noise and not running tangents.
|Split||Distance||Avg Pace||Avg HR||Avg Cadence|