Saturday was once again a perfect day weather wise, almost too hot for running. When I arrived at the scene, this is what I saw:
Tents and a lot of people.
I got changed and on the way to deposit my valuables, I bumped into Benjamin whom I know from badminton times. We chatted a little and on I went.
I still had about twenty minutes left and did some warm-up, just like you should: a little easy running, a few sprints, some drills… and I was already soaked. Maybe that black-black combo was not such a good idea after all.
Here’s what the course looked like:
From the start towards the small loop, counter-clockwise around it, back to the start, around the big loop and again the small loop in the same direction as before, so the small loop is done twice. There was not much elevation overall, maybe 30 metres or so.
My goal was something like 37 minutes. I had paces of around 3:40 min:sec/km in two 11 km races this year already, and the courses were less flat than this one, so I thought it should be doable. But certainly I wanted to destroy my PB from last year (42:30).
In the crowd lining up for the start, I got to stand next to Tony (the Irish Rover from Bierathlon) and we chatted a little until the gun went. I struggled for a few seconds until I could flow with the masses, pictured here a few metres after the start:
I you look very closely (and know where to look and zoom in), you can find me in the right part of the pic (between the two trees on the right):
Fabulous form. (Somebody must have pushed my left knee just before the picture was taken, I guess. No other explanation for my trademark “looks like nailed to the ground” pose.)
After a bit more than one kilometre (start of the small loop), I caught up with a small group around Maja Luder, second woman at the time. (Remember my secret goal of winning the women’s race?) I’ve had fast people tell me that the top women are very good pacers, so I thought I’d hang with the group a bit. Here is Maja (in blue), and at the very right you can see me:
By the way, the race photographer got lucky here and had one guy grace the next few shots with his, umm, bold presence in the background:
I hung behind Maja until kilometre four, when we passed the start again. I got a sip of water (and asked Maja if she wanted some because she dropped two cups, but she didn’t) and decided to try and close the gap to the leading woman who was a few hundred metres ahead.
Until then, I was on target: 3:36, 3:36, 3:36 and 3:37 were my first four kilometre splits. Rather consistent, if I may say so. I passed the little group I was with, but I didn’t have to up the pace for that. The next kilometre was a little bit slower (3:41), but I still got past them.
It was around then when things got a little bit hard. The few metres upward elevation were spread over the next two kilometres, and I was somewhat alone between groups.
Well, except for that super loud breather who decided it was a great idea to run so close to me that he touched me several times, but I simply couldn’t get away. When we got into the small loop for the second time, he passed me for good.
I think this picture was taken about then:
All fresh and smiles. And the same “impressive” form, but no potential scapegoat nearby, hmm…
Anyway, my pace now dropped quite a bit: 3:46, 3:52, 3:57 and 3:52 for the next kilometres. On the same part of the course were the first time around I ran sub 3:40 per kilometre!
One or two guys now passed me and I couldn’t hang on any heels, but for the last kilometre I buckled up and ran it in 3:40. And the extra 140 metres in the end (courtesy of my Garmin) I did in a 3:21 pace, but those 28 seconds clearly got me above 37 minutes for a total time of 37:48. Official pace was 3:46 min/km (6:04 min/mi), so I was actually a bit disappointed about not being able to keep the pace constant, but a bit later I was content about a new PB and more points than ever so far in ZüriLaufCup in a single race. I never caught the leading woman, by the way, so I got second in my secret virtual ranking. Again.
Because I’ve done all five races so far, I’m actually fourth overall in my age group, but since only 18 guys did all five races, this is very likely to change soon. I won’t race next week’s Zurich Marathon (which also counts towards ZüriLaufCup), but it’s typically not the best result of the season as age group winners there are really fast, which makes for less points to be won.
Speaking of winning, I got this nice white wine glass:
I chatted with Benjamin after the race for a while, and it turns out he used to do triathlons for a while (and was very fast). He invited me to his Tuesday evening track group, so I’ll test that tomorrow! I’d love to be pushed to do more intervals in my running, but it’s just not the thing to do on my easy runs. And my runs are all easy recently.
Up next: Walliseller Triathlon on Sunday! Brought to you by “Can Benjamin crawl during more than 50% of the swim leg?” And then a little race break. Probably about time.