Running in Germany

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and with good reason. I was exploring Germany, a part of the world that I had never been to. While I have been to Europe before, I had never been to Germany and I have to say I fell absolutely in love with this country. So beautiful, such a beautiful culture. The food and beer were delicious. I ate things in Germany that I never even dreamed of eating here in the states. I ate pizza and street food, which did not taste like street food at all, but more like mini gourmet meals bursting with flavor in my mouth.

I spent my first week in
Hamburg, where I ran a half marathon and a couple of leisure runs.

This was my first time running a half marathon in another country, and I certainly hope it will not be my last. What a truly amazing experience. The day before the race, UMM and I arrived in
Germany, we were picked up by UMM’s friend, and driven to the running store, Hamburg Laufladen, where we picked up our running bibs. All UMM said as he entered the store was “we are the Americans,” and they knew exactly who we were. I felt like royalty! After that we stopped and had our first beer in Germany, and then it was back to the airport to pick up my friend Atina, who was flying in from London to also run the race.

Some thought UMM and I were crazy for running a Half Mary only a day after arriving, and I would have to agree with them. I would not advise it. A smart runner should allow proper time for jet lag to settle in before running a race. A crazy runner would go out and run for the adventure of it all and suffer the consequences later. I don’t mind being defined "a crazy runner," as this race certainly got the best of me. But what a beauty the 3. Hoisbutteler Hasenlauf course was!

The course was a mixture of some pavement, dirt and mud, and a whole lot of sand. Sand I believe is the most difficult of all to run in. Oh, and there was a lot of horse dung to jump over as well. Despite the obstacles this twice looped course was absolutely gorgeous. Running through the forests, by lagoons, fields, and farms, was simply breathtaking. Had I never run the race I would have never experienced this beautiful part of

I had thought that I was just going to run the course with Atina, but the excitement of running a race in
Germany took over and I was off. During the first half, I felt great. I was running with a pack of guys for a long time as we took turns passing each other and then falling behind. It was the second half that did me in however. With only a few hours of sleep in the last two days prior to the race, it all of a sudden hit me like a pile of bricks. Not only was I exhausted, but very dehydrated. I did not carry any source of water, and felt that this race could have had a few more water stops. At mile seven I slowed to a walk and one of the guys shouted at me in German. I don’t know German, but luckily for me running is the universal language and I understood his intent. Even in Germany, the runners are encouraging. This helped me pick up the pace and keep up with him a while longer, and lucky that I did, for a hawk flew up into the sky right next to me. While it did startle me, it was such an amazing sight to see. I learned later that the course had to be moved due to an aggressive mother hawk attacking those who stepped near her nest. I was not certain if that was the same hawk, but grateful it did not attack me.

Picture courtesy of Atina, view from the course

Atina catching me admiring the view
Finally back at the water stop I paused and drank six cups of water. It was the most water I had ever drank down during a race. I literally stopped and just drank cup after cup. Because the aid station was at one of the turn-around points, I was able to catch UMM run by. I looked at my garmin to notice that he was slower than his usual time, and found out after the race that he felt just as exhausted as I. Damn jet lag!!!

All of the staff and volunteers were really nice as they cheered me on even though they spoke in German, I understood every word. Body language is a powerful way to communicate and I am blessed that I excel in this style of communication. On a side note - I got so good at picking up the German language, as well as reading body language, that towards the end of my trip I actually thought people were speaking English to me. UMM assured me they weren’t and I was happy that I broke the barrier and was able to understand.

I loved having my friend Atina running the race too. Though she was behind me just a tad, I could feel her energy that gave me the strength to press on and finish.  I did manage to finish strong at a
2:01:20. Certainly not my best time, but it was my small accomplishment. Not only that but I managed to finish 9th female overall and get this...3rd in my Age Group. I have never placed in a half marathon before and was thrilled. Yeah, so what if there were only 20 female participants...I will take my place all just the same thank you very much.
The out of towners!
At the finish line I made friends with a really nice gal who was just as passionate about running as I, if not more. UMM happened to talk with a guy on the race staff who qualified for the Western States for 2013, and was hoping to win the lottery just like UMM. A well organized race on a beautiful course where the staff and volunteers helped us feel right at home, what was not to love! My head is still whirling from this truly amazing experience and am so grateful I had the opportunity.

Making friends on a leisure run around the lake
My second week was spent in Berlin where I did absolutely no running at all, but walked the city for miles and miles. By the end of the day, my feet and legs felt as sore as running a marathon. I suppose I could have forced myself to get out and run, but then I would have missed the excitement of the EuroCup. Life is full of tough choices, but I think taking a week off of running was okay. 

BitBurger - Favorite Beer while in Germany, but I also love the fact that each and every different beer had its own special glass. Boring pint glasses be gone!

Just hanging out on the wall in Berlin...No big deal right?
Getting caught up in all the EuroCup excitement during the Germany vs. Greece game!
Back to reality after many beers later and a bit fatter than I was before the trip, I am ready to jump full force back into training mode. Fat be gone, and I will get my speed back..."As God is my witness I will." But I can assure you, the experience was worth every pound! PROST!

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