Thanks to the Christian calendar, Germany has a lot of holidays in May and June. Last Thursday was one of them: Christi Himmelfaht — which I like to translate as “Jesus’ drive to heaven”, but is more commonly known as Ascension Day. All of that to say, everyone had Thursday free from work. And what should you do with a free day in the middle of the week? Why run in a relay race, of course!
Several teams of us from the university participated in the Bremen Staffellauf in the Faulenquartier. Every team was made up of four runners, each of whom ran the same 4.5 km loop along the Weser. I’m pretty sure there were at least a hundred teams participating — so not a huge race, but enough runners to be exciting.
As one of the slower runners on our team, I was the third slated to go. I was in the exchange area, casually waiting for our second runner to approach, and not expecting her for a few more minutes. Then suddenly she was there and I took off running — without having a chance to get mentally prepared, or make sure that my running watch had picked up a GPS signal. Oh well. My only plan was to run as fast as I could, and I didn’t need my watch to tell me that.
The course itself was full of twists and turns (some of them nearly 180 degrees), up and over ramps and hills, and even up a few steps. As per usual in Bremen, the wind was also out in full force. All of this made for tough conditions, but I gave it my all and kept my pace at a level so that it hurt. I really ran at the very edge of my physical abilities. Which was both awesome and totally humbling.
Since the number of runners wasn’t huge, and since the field was quite spread out by the time I started, I didn’t have to concentrate on maneuvering through crowds of runners. I could focus on my own run. Overall, our team finished in 1:14:10, in 5th place among the company teams.
Quite honestly, I haven’t run a short distance race in ages, and I certainly haven’t ever really run one for time. I was curious to see what I could accomplish, and couldn’t be more pleased. The course was a bit shorter than the advertised 4.5 km (about 4.25 km, I think), and I finished in 21:45 — for an average pace of 8:14/mile. Which is at least 25 seconds faster per mile than I’ve been able to run even during my speed training sessions. A little adrenalin on race day goes a long way!
The endorphins hung around for the rest of the day, convincing me to sign up the Bremen Half Marathon in October. I’m also playing around with the idea of a couple of other shorter races, but we’ll see. For now, I want to take a bit of a break from intensive running and maybe stick some more swimming and strength training into the mix. But don’t worry, you’ll certainly be hearing more from me about these adventures!