9/15/11: ‘This one is different’, Jungfrau Marathon, Switzerland

I was in Interlaken, Switzerland to run a marathon I had been training for in my spare time all summer.  The course seemed a great challenge to me.  The first half of it is flat road running (part pavement, part dirt) and the second half of it is an uphill climb all the way to the finish.

In training for this marathon I ran on pavement for the first time since my teens.  Ever since I started running on trails I couldn’t justify time on pavement.  Trail running was just too good and pavement just a little too boring which over time just made it harder to do mentally.  Strip away the wilderness and my brain rattles a bit more.  But the return of pavement was good and necessary for this race.  I focused on timing and speed over distance.  With this, I gained a new respect and maybe a slight desire for road running.  I also realized it is good for racking up the mileage in a short amount of time-a very handy thing in a busy life.

I was incredibly preoccupied with work as I boarded my flight to Geneva but by the time I arrived to Interlaken I was able to enjoy where I was.  I explored the area a few days before the race, and was able to get on the higher part of the course.

The gun went off and the pavement began.  I started and maintained with the lead pack which I thought was good, the uphill would change things, surely some gals would drop back on the uphill.  Well, on this day, they didn’t really drop back only I did.

It was about 10k from the finish when I did what I told myself I wouldn’t do, I drank the aid-station electrolyte.  In general, I ( and as is pretty common of a practice) don’t eat or drink anything I ever tried during a race because you don’t know how your body will react.  Not too much further ahead I had bad stomach cramps and then not 2k from the finish I got the worst legs cramps I have ever experienced.  I don’t think that this was just due to the foreign electrolytes as I was one of a number of people who were obviously dealing with leg cramps (one person had resorted to walking backwards in order to continue).  I think a bigger factor is the transition from 13 miles of fast flat running into 13 miles of demanding uphill running.  Maybe it was a combination of them both.

Loosing positions rapidly I made it to the finish line with just enough oomph to finish 9th place.

Races like this are intriguing to me.  I wouldn’t say fast flat running or a long slow grind uphill are what I do best but this race presents itself to me as a challenge to improve on the things I don’t naturally gravitate towards.

Of course this race does also have an incredible view!