What a day. I’ll try not to ramble through this blog, but I have lot to say about the Copenhagen Marathon.
I originally signed up for this race in October of 2018, fully knowing I would race Boston and intending to run/walk this in May just to see the city. I asked my coach before registering and he said not racing both was a good plan, but no reason I couldn’t sign up. So, I did.
I haven’t actually written a Boston Marathon recap yet. And to be honest it was a really hard day for me. I gave it all I had, but the heat really got to me. I finished in 3:26:28. 20 seconds lower than my Boston 2018 time. As soon as I got done, I told myself if I felt good in a week, I’d race Copenhagen.
My coach felt the same way. We worked on another 3 weeks of training post-Boston and one week off. My body felt really good. I ran a few more long runs, a couple tempo runs and kept yoga and strength a priority.
The point of traveling to Copenhagen was for a vacation with Kyle. We wanted uninterrupted time together and a chance to experience a new culture. The marathon was not my number one priority.
We flew in on a Thursday. The marathon was Sunday. So, I had a few days to adjust to the time change and relax. I was so relaxed. I hardly thought about the race at all. And I was probably walking too many steps each day leading up to race day, but we wanted to explore.
I was the calmest I had ever been that Saturday before a marathon. It was a good feeling. The race didn’t begin until 9:30 a.m. and we were staying at an Airbnb that was only a 5 minute walk from the start/finish line, so it was EASY. The easiest start to a race I have ever had. I ate breakfast, got dressed, and then Kyle walked with me over to the start.
We hung out by the start wave for a bit. The atmosphere was fun. People seemed relaxed. There weren’t start corrals, but just a few pace signs so you could line up based on your goal time. I got in front of the 3:30 pacer and took it in. The announcer said one minute to go time and everyone around me starting clapping. It was electric. I couldn’t help but laugh. This was the most excited start line group I had ever seen. I knew it was going to be a good day.
We were off.
It was strange for me to not know a single other person running on the course with me, but also kind of fun. It was almost like I was running a “secret” marathon. I barely looked at a course map before hand and that was a good feeling too.
I told myself early on that I was not going to focus on my watch. I had no idea how I would feel only 5 weeks after Boston and even though I had gotten the okay to race it if I felt good, I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself. Plus, the course markers were all in kilometers so it was easier for me not to pay attention. I just ran by feel.
The first 10K zoomed by. I felt like I was moving a little fast, so I tried to dial it back. I did not want to feel so out of energy the last few miles like I did in Boston, so I conserved. Honestly, I think I ran too conservatively, but that’s okay.
There were DJs playing techno on the sidelines and even a a Danish rapper. Spectators would yell things to me that I couldn’t understand, but I was smiling. I hadn’t expected many spectators, but there were SO many. This race only had about 11,000 runners, but I swear there were just as many spectators.
I crossed the half marathon mark in around 1:43. Two minutes slower than what I crossed the first half of Boston in. I looked down at my watch at that point and said, “Okay perfect.” I felt SO good still and I knew that running the first half slower set me up to negative split.
One tough thing about this course was allllll of the turns. So drastically different from Boston. I tried my best to run the tangents, but if there was shade on either side, I picked shade. It was sunny, 65 degrees and rising. I knew shade was important.
Another tough thing: the water cups were plastic. This really surprised me since Copenhagen is so good about not using plastic most places. It was hard to even purchase a plastic water bottle. But yet all fluid cups on the course were hard plastic. Most of the time I got more water up my nose than down my throat. It was uncomfy. Something about the plastic made drinking while running even harder and I wasn’t used to it. And stepping on used cups on the ground was more annoying than when they’re paper. Hoping they change these to paper in the future!
Despite the water struggle, I was cruising. I saw Kyle and Libby a few times later on in the course. Right before 17 was a good spot. They caught me from far away and I was able to give high fives as I ran by. Felt good to see people I knew.
At mile 18 I got excited. Ran a 7:02. So, I pulled back again. I was still afraid I was going to feel terrible toward the end. But I didn’t. I stayed consistent.
I spent each step just soaking it in. I loved the energy of the people around me. (Didn’t love all the cigarette smoke on the sidelines – my one complaint about spectators). It was like I hardly felt like I was running. I was just touring a city, seeing new spots I never had and listening to people I didn’t know. At no point did I say to myself “Dale you’re racing this marathon.” I was just having fun.
As I got closer to the end, I picked it up. It helped that this course was so flat. I was gaining momentum as I went rather than losing it. The difference between how I felt today compared to April was CRAZY. I was hardly breathing hard. My legs felt strong. Sure, I was hot. The sun was brutal again, but I was more prepared. My last three miles were 7:23, 7:18, 6:51. Ran at a 6:19 for the last tenth of a mile. I flew to that finish line.
The crowd around the finish was SO loud. People around me were flying too. I was smiling BIG as I ran that last tenth. I looked down at my watch and saw 3:21:33. A one and a half minute PR. I couldn’t believe it. I ran smart, I enjoyed every mile and I had fun. That’s all I can ask for in a marathon. They are always difficult, but I truly always enjoy the distance. It demands you to step up and respect it. And if you have fun while doing it, it’s a really good day.
I had a really good day.
I rang the PR bell, went to meet Kyle & Libby, and had a beer while we walked back home. Then Kyle told me I had less than an hour to get ready for his “plans” – that’s another story… 🙂
I couldn’t have been more proud of my effort on this day. It was the most fun I have ever had during a marathon and coincidentally the best performance I ever had too. It was also my first international marathon and it makes me want to run marathons all over the world. It was a better experience than I even expected.
Copenhagen was friendly, fast, fun and unforgettable. 5.19.19 was the best day. Can’t recommend this race or this city enough!