Good Noise

Maybe it is partially the acoustics of the streets with the buildings either side but Hamburg in the city centre areas has the most enthusiastic and noisiest spectators I can remember. It is a great help as I have got my pacing wrong in this one and I am grateful for the support as I tough out the final miles.

We are lucky to have got here as it is just after the Icelandic volcano has erupted throwing clouds of dust into the atmosphere and causing loads of flights to be cancelled. It is in the balance until the last minute, we have pondered rail alternatives but the flight goes ahead and here we are. On the bus from the airport we meet a couple of guys who have run 500+ and 300+ marathons respectively. They say they are done with racing them super competitively and do them as enjoyable weekends away, this is confirmed by them swigging from a couple of cans of beer.

We are staying in a hotel by the big lake, it has a kind of faded grandeur and is in a good location. We can walk to the start which is always good. The race starts on the infamous Reeperbahn and after going round the city centre heads out for a loop of the lake. Richard and I are running, Pete has opted to give this one a miss and like Bing come for a social weekend. They promise to cheer from the hotel as we go by but in practice they are too busy eating breakfast to bother with us! There is no sign of them as we go by.

I am still learning how to pace a marathon. The time gap between getting the pace just right to halfway and overcooking it can be quite small but boy does it make a difference later on. I get a bit ahead of Richard as we go around the lake and reach halfway in 1.47.42, including pushing the pace when I am feeling oh so happy and good. I'm going to pay for this and I do, it is never disastrous just a relentless turning of the screw and the familiar fight to the finish. We are back in the city centre, carefully paced Richard has gone by me and the raucous crowd will myself and everybody else towards the finish. The elevation profile is pretty flat but you really feel the little undulations when you are tired. As always the miles go by, my gait goes from a spring to a plod but I don't fall apart and I turn a corner to see the finish line banner at the end of the long straight. A final exuberant and relieved burst and I am there.

That afternoon we start a tradition of a boat tour wherever there are waterways. It is a wonderful way of recovering from a marathon, watching the city go by in a contented daze, nothing like messing about in boats.