A week ago, I received an email from my company to let me know I was off the waiting list for the annual Munich firmenlauf (Company Run). I had signed up some time back in March and had planned to start running again around that time, as soon as I recovered from the lung infection that had plagued me most of February and March so I would be nice and fit in time for the run. For one reason or another, dominated by laziness I am sure, I never really got back into running form and even have struggled with any kind of fitness over the last months.

So when the email came with only one week's warning I was more than a bit concerned about how I was going to pull off a run with so little time to prepare. The only reason I didn't bail altogether is that the run is 'only' 6.5 km or just over 4 miles. Should be do-able.

Last weekend I dove right into training and mapped out a 6k route around my house. I decided just to alternate one day running and one day cycling, kept it up through the week and finished with an extra morning ride yesterday morning (the day of the race).

Monday and Tuesday were very painful days but it was only muscle pains, nothing deeper. I ran extremely slow all week as there was no point to worry about time for this race. I just wanted to be able to complete it. By Wednesday most of the aches and pains had subsided, I took my final long bike ride and felt as ready as I could be for the race on Thursday night.

The race started and finished at Olympiapark. I was not quite prepared for how massive the event was going to be. I met up with my colleagues and we changed into our shirts, got our race numbers and shoe chips for timing on and then headed over to the starting area.

There were roughly 30,000 people participating. A DJ was getting the crowd pumped up. We stood in groups depending on our estimated time for completion. Crowds of co-workers wandered past in groups of 10-20 in their matching team shirts. I felt like I was watching herds of animals crossing the great plains or schools of brightly colored fish darting in unison around a reef.

It was a hot night and the clouds were building up darker and darker as we waited to start. The first group (the real runners) went off and it was over 30 minutes before my group got to start. The first people had completed the race before we even started.

Just as I passed through the starting gate a few drops came down and before long lighting and thunder were crashing down, trees were blowing sideways and I was soaked to the bone. By then, there was no other point but to finish. Like cattle being chased down a chute we all kept racing along at our best pace through the storm. Some nice locals were outside under the umbrellas or on their balconies cheering and blowing leftover world cup vuvuzelas. I missed the marker for the 5th kilometer and just as I was wondering if the race would ever end I saw the marker 'only 300 meters more'.

We approached the Olympic Stadium in the dark and pouring rain broken only by flashes of lightning and claps of thunder and the squishing of soaked running shoes. The crowds of runners continued to pour into the bright stadium and everyone was waiting inside soaked, laughing and cheering for the ones who were just arriving. Sure we were slow as anything. But we made it!

I wandered home through the rain, soaked, raccoon eyed from mascara gone awry and looking forward to a nice hot shower to warm up and my warm bed to pass out in.

Posted from Munich


Expat Traveler said...

Congrats on sticking with it and finishing!!! I think you took our t-storm this year as we normally get a funny one this week and it seems like no rain even passed in sight. In fact, I think I even missed a fun event..

Expats Again said...

Kudos for your perseverance! What an inspiration. After reading about your run, I'm heading up to pack my gym bag. No more excuses!