Never in my life did I ever think I’d ever write a blog post about running a half marathon. Because, never in my life did I ever think I would RUN a half marathon.
I’ve always been a pretty good runner. It kind of comes naturally too me, I think. I mean, we did tack and field at school and I never trained for it leading up and I placed either second or first in all the running events. Usually second in the running, first in the jumping events and always last place in the ball throw.
I also did some cross country in elementary school, went onto the next meets and always placed pretty high. It wasn’t ever my favourite thing to do, but since all of my friends were doing it and I knew I didn’t ever place too low, I came back every year and did it.
So, to summarize, I never ran because it was fun, I only ran in races because I love competition. I’m a pretty competitive person and want to be the best at what I do, so I try really hard.
Anyways, to the whole point of this blog post. I ran a half marathon in Cologne. I didn’t plan on running it, because I’d already signed myself up for the Munich half marathon, but I participated in a Facebook contest hosted by the company Runner’s Point, and they were giving away free start spots to the half marathon.
A couple of days later, I won a spot and I booked a hotel with my mom (because she wanted to come watch and support) and booked train tickets to Cologne, more excited than ever!
Friday was just travel and arrival day. We got to Cologne pretty late and didn’t do anything that night.
Saturday, the 30th of September
We woke up pretty early because the Runner’s Point run club was holding a pre-race sightseeing tour through Cologne. However, since the weather was really bad (rainy, cold and windy) I decided not to join. Didn’t want to get sick before the race.
Instead, we went to the Runners EXPO, where there were a bunch of stands selling things from power bars to clothing to who knows what. Everything that a runner could need, you could find there.
We picked up my start bag and bib. The bags were really nice. It was a a quality gym bag that I can use in the future, which is really good. Inside, were a bunch of papers, some gummy bears, red bull and some energy gels. Loved everything, except the red bull, just because I don’t drink that.
The rest of the day was just spent sightseeing, because we’re not that familiar with Cologne. The day ended with a big plate of pasta, to carb up for the next day.
Sunday, the 1st of October: Race day
Since we had to meet the rest of the runners of the Runner’s Point Run Club at 7:30, we had to wake up at 6AM. Well, I did.. my mom stayed in bed a little.
Ate a quick, small breakfast consisting of a banana and 3 sips of camomile tea and then headed to the start, to race at 8:30.
I didn’t start getting butterflies in my stomach until about 20 minutes until race begin, where we stood in a train station trying to stay warm (The train station was right beside the start). I wasn’t that nervous, just really excited to run with 15.000 people. I think, the only thing that was making me nervous at the start, was the thought of being completely dead at the end and having to walk.
As I got to my starting block, the nervousness was decreasing, as the excitement was increasing. I sipped one energy gell right before, which was really really helpful, and turned on my MapMyRun app on my phone.
They let the first block go at exactly 8:30, and then let mine (the next one) go five minutes later, blasting confetti to each start. Classic Cologne.
At the beginning it was tough trying to set your pace, because there were so many people and going around everyone throws you off. After about 800m, it kind of “thinned out” and you weren’t running on people’s heels anymore.
The weather couldn’t have been better. It was a mix of sun and cloud and the temperature at about 12 degrees. I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts and that was perfect.
I had a pace under 5 minutes/km and just kind of went into autopilot for the entire race.
We ran through the city, and there were so many people cheering you on. It makes it so much more fun and you’re so much more motivated to keep going, when people are screaming and shouting. At different points in the race, there were singers and drummers and an orchestra too.
I took an energy gell at the 16th km, because that’s when I started feeling tired and that’s when I knowingly started counting down how many kilometres were left.
At the 18th km, I took a sip of Coca Cola, that they were handing out at the side for that last burst of energy of the last three kilometres. Which was definitely needed.
The finish line was right at the Cologne Dom. We had to run through the downtown and past the Dom, onto a red carpet, and cross the line.
I saw my mom watching at the side of the red carpet, and screaming “run, Dominick!”.
There’s so many people at the end cheering, screaming and waving for everyone who runs past, and it seriously helps so much. It’s that extra push that gets you across the finish line.
Once you finish, you have these feelings of relief and accomplishment that you actually made it. I especially, never thought I would run a half marathon, because I didn’t think I had the strength, patience or motivation to do so.
At the end, one person had asked me if I ran the kids run and another person asked me if I even ran the race, because apparently I looked fit and as if I didn’t run. I told them “oh, I ran the 21,1km”, as I gasped for air.
So, what you’ve been waiting for…
I had originally set the goal for my very first half marathon to be, just to finish it and cross the line. But, in the back of my head, I kind of wanted to run in 1:45:00.
And, I did! I ran in 1:44:38. That time made me the 2035th finisher of approx, 15.000 and 22nd/151 in my age category (18-19).
I am a really modest person, trust me, but I am pretty proud that I had just started training on my own in May and then got that result in October.
Future running plans?
I had actually ran the Munich half marathon one week later, and ran a couple seconds faster than the time in Cologne. 1:43:52 and I placed even higher up in my age category.
I plan to continue running and race again in the new year. I love the entire race atmosphere, as I am a pretty competitive person.
I joined the run club at my university, where we run 2 times a week. Long distance and interval training, which will be good for increasing speed over the longer distances.
Anyways, that’s it from my side. Have a wonderful day!