Potsdam Schlösserlauf 2023, first half marathon
This is a race report, probably most interesting for myself looking back on it later, but hey, it’s writing practice.
Yesterday, I ran my first half marathon in Potsdam. It was a sunny day, around 20°C. I have done the distance in long runs before, so I knew I could finish if I didn’t go out too fast. The A goal was finishing under 2 hours, and the B goal was finishing with an even or nearly even split, not slowing down too much towards the end. I ended up finishing in 1:55:04, couldn’t be happier.
I found and followed a group in the first half, but ultimately their pace was a bit too aggressive for me and I fell behind in the hilly trails section around Babelsberg. Not insisting probably was the right decision.
For pacing after that, I relied on my phone. The GPS tracking (with the RunKeeper app) wasn’t completely in sync with the kilometer signs on the course, it was off for most of the second half, sometimes too much, sometimes too little, and 400m too short by the end. The learning is to not take the average pace in the app too literally.
In the end, my splits were pretty regular, there was a ~20 seconds variability but that can be explained by pushing harder in the last km and slowing down on hilly dirt paths towards the middle (Babelsberg and after).
I finished strong and super happy, but obviously exhausted and with tight and painful glutes and hip flexors.
After the race, we went to Klaistow with the family to buy some baskets and eat some fresh asparagus. It was delicious but I overdid it on the overall quantity and the amount of — very buttery — hollandaise sauce. That might have contributed to the difficulties to come.
Very briefly: I had a good training block, before and after the 14km RBB Lauf end of April. I managed to increase my weekly mileage to a bit over 50km towards the end without injury, despite persistent runner’s knee, which got more manageable with proper calf warm-ups. Most of the runs were very easy, with weekly long runs that went about half marathon distance — 22km for the longest — towards the end. I tried implementing weekly speed workouts (threshold runs and intervals), but at least half of them did not end up realizing because of knee pain or insufficient recovery. Making sure I can get the speed workouts in will be a focus next time I train for a race. I am planning on just focusing on base building and fun, relaxing runs for the summer.
The ugly aftermath
Now the ugly part. I finished the race towards 11, and shortly after started getting headaches. I had made sure to stay on top of water and sugar intake with one glass of cola and a half banana during the race, and right after a sports drink, another half banana and an apple, so I don’t think it’s likely that I was dehydrated or too low in sugar. As mentioned, lunch was very heavy, with a bunch of fat, and I had a beer with it, so some alcohol on top. We went home and I had coffee and some biscuits. The headaches weren’t too bad most of the afternoon so I opted not to take any ibuprofen. But they got much worse towards 5pm. I took some ibuprofen, and vomited shortly after.
I have no certainty about what happened, but a few hypotheses:
- Too much sun. There was no cloud at all and I was running outside for two hours, then walking in the sun after that. I was wearing a hat for the better part of it, but there was definitely a lot of exposure.
- I learned about exertion headaches from searching around on the internet in the afternoon. I never had these before — that I noticed —, so it’s possible but doesn’t sound that likely. We’ll see if that happens again.
- My body was weak from the effort and it didn’t tolerate either the amount of fat and food in general, or got an indigestion from potentially something swimming in the water I picked the asparagus up from.
- Caffeine somehow did not play well with my guts. But again, the headaches started before coffee.
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All in all a beautiful day with the family, and a very positive first half marathon experience. Next step is a trail half marathon, the Sielmanns Heidelauf, in the Döberitzer Heide reserve between Berlin and Potsdam. I won’t be looking for a specific time on that one, just to enjoy the run and the nature.