As I’m currently the only member of TPB to be residing in Europe, my race review comes from a totally different place than the others…namely Potsdam Germany. A little backdrop: I moved to Berlin in February of this year, and since then have slowly been getting back to my old running form again. It was really tough at first, since finding motivation to run out by yourself in -5 degree weather is not simple. But since then the weather has improved and I have come across a whole group of very enthusiastic, friendly and FAST (mostly ex-pat) running buddies.
Two of my running buddies – who are a married couple – advised me back in March to register for the Potsdam Half Marathon. At that point I was not close to being able to get a fast 21K time, but I had time. So I registered. My last half mary was run way back in 2011 and the Adidas King of the Road, which is where I achieved my PR of 1:43. Not bad, but not amazing either. It was time to set a new one.
After 2 months of pretty focused training (and one injury to my IT band, more on that later), it was time to race. I had set a target of between 1:35 and 1:38. Anywhere in between those 2 times would be great. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was not wonderful. It would be a cold and cloudy day, and almost certainly a wet one. Oh well, aside from the “wet” part, the cold and cloudy conditions would actually be great for running a fast time.
The day before the race we went to the race expo. This is not a usual happening in races in the Philippines, except for KOTR. It’s a chance to pick up your race bib, t-shirt and loot bag, and at the same time shop around for some pretty amazing discounted running gear. I picked up a shirt, shorts socks and shoes for about half the normal price. Also we got a free pasta lunch while there. I could really grow to love these expos :)
On to race day. It was cold as we expected, so we brought along jackets just in case. But going at race pace would mean even at 10 degrees weather, eventually you’d start to get hot. So I left it in my bag. Along with a good night’s sleep and a decent job of carbo loading the days prior, I could hardly be more prepared. The only thing that bothered me was my hip. Ever since I began feeling pains there a month before, I found out this was ITBS and took appropriate measures. I bought a foam roller and a Thera Band exercise band and starting following the exercises from this video on a daily basis. Never before have my outer this muscles been this strong. But still the pain didn’t go away entirely. During every training run, I’d still feel it, at least lightly. So my training wasn’t as perfect as I’d hoped and now on race day I still was afraid I might even DNF because of it. The weird thing is that as the gun went off at 9am sharp and the race progressed, the feeling got less and less, until it totally went away. It was weird! I never thought it would happen but it did. I could focus on my running without any distraction from my IT band and I loved it.
It was a varied course, which went through the centre of Potsdam, out to the lakes and trails in the east, then though a quiet residential area in the north, through Sans Souci Park and finally back to the Potsdam sports complex, running the final 200 meters on the track oval. As I kept track of the distance on my Garmin, I noticed that the kilometres were growing more and more out of sync with the actual kilometre markers on the side of the road. I assumed that my Garmin got confused due to the foliage, so I kept pace according to the markers. I crossed the finish line at 1:36:32, a full 8 minutes faster than my PR. I was ecstatic. Also since the last few km went so smoothly, I had a 4:24/km average pace for the last 5K and I even managed a sub 4:00/km final 400 meters.
After the race ended and we showered (first time in my life there were shower facilities at a race!), we headed for the bus back home just as the rain got really bad. I was happy we got to finish before the rain started. After a well-deserved vegan burrito at Dolores, I headed home to log my performance…and I found out that my Garmin was correct! The course was actually 330 metres too long, and as such I could even subtract about 90 more seconds from my PR. So, I’m happy to say I acheived exactly my optimistic goal of 1:35 :)
All in all, it was a great race, nice course, all at a reasonable price. Just too bad about the distance being off by 330m. On to the next goal…sub 1:30! :D