Last weekend I had the pleasure of running the 1/2 Sauer, 1/2 Kraut marathon, a delightful German themed race I first read about on the T-Rex Runner’s page (her story is by far more entertaining so if you haven’t checked out her blog by now, do it. NOW. Don’t worry, I’ll wait).
Jerbear was supposed to join me for this race — he loves all things German so this was right in his wheelhouse — but I decided it was better to just go straight to Philly from my training class in West Virginia, rather than fight all the DC/Baltimore traffic on a Friday afternoon. It ended up working out for the better because I had no idea if I was going to do the half or the full. I was literally planning on making that decision at the last possible second…which I did (spoiler alert — I did the full).
Even after getting little to no sleep the night before thanks to a bunch of dumbys running up and down the hotel hallways, I was super excited to put on my Maniac singlet for the first time. I went through a lot for that damn thing and damnit, I was going to wear it with pride.
I was a little nervous when I got to the start because I was all by myself. But another Maniac ended up asking me where the group picture was (which I guessed was by the start) and we started chatting. Then another Maniac joined and next thing you know I’m meeting a bunch of new people. I’m fine with running and being alone but it was incredible meeting them and hearing their stories. Bottom line… Maniacs are freakin impressive.
For example, one Maniac was an 11 year old kid who has run marathons on every continent but Europe and Asia. So yeah, he’s already done Africa as well as Antarctica…twice. Lil f*cker. I joke. He’s doing it to raise money for a children’s charity. When I was 11, I could barely brush my own hair so good on ya, kid. Here he is getting his mack on with the ladies (one of which is the same girl featured in T-Rex’s blog…seriously, if you haven’t read it, do it. meow.):
We all made it for the Maniac/Fanatic picture, but for the life of me, I have no idea where they might be posted. As the race was starting they began blasting super fun German music and I loved every second of it. You can check it out here: http://youtu.be/GgUBXUxgC24
The race was in Pennypack Park outside of Philly and the course ran primarily on a paved bike path along the water with lots of tree cover. This was crucial since it was pretty warm that day. If the whole thing had been in the sun, I probably would’ve died. Luckily the vast amounts of rain we had the day prior helped break a lot of the humidity but it was still fairly hot so I took it slow. The race had other fun touches such as folks dressed up in lederhosen and dirndls and they even had Uber Hans rocking his accordion on the course (all other races, take note - THIS is solid course entertainment):
The other side of this picture…
The best part about wearing the singlet was that other Maniacs and Fanatics would cheer you on, often with a “Yeah! Yeah! Maniac!” and as the course had very few spectators, it was a nice bit of encouragement and just made me so happy.
The course was an out/back double loop, which was probably the reason so many people ended up downgrading to the half. Because after tackling the tough (and super muddy) technical trail, including the dreaded Mount Cuckoo at mile 7, you’d have to be nuts to do it all again.
Well clearly I’m nuts and since I felt good when I finished the 13, I turned around with the finish line a few feet away and headed back out there to do my second loop. A lot of people hate these types of courses and while I agree they can be difficult mentally, I actually found comfort in knowing exactly what to expect from the course for the remaining 13 miles. Sometimes I get anxiety during a race when I don’t know what is coming up.
Even with knowing what was ahead, the second loop was by no means less difficult. Each mile felt like it took forever. I’d look at my watch after what felt like a mile and realize it’d only been a tenth of one. So demoralizing. I also starting getting increasingly dehydrated so I started lingering at each aid station to make sure I was getting enough fluids.
Eventually I finished in a tad less than 5 hours and ended up meeting another Maniac, John, who was visiting the area with his wife and still had to drive home to Atlanta that day. Oy. Good luck my friend.
We made our way back to the German club, where they had some fun folk dancing going on but sadly I only got to see one dance before they stopped to do the awards. Since I had to get back to Virginia for Jerry’s bday celebration, I could only stay for a few of them. Luckily they did best dressed first. First place deservedly went to this guy (he did the full like that):
I hosed myself down with some baby wipes, changed clothes, and off I went back to VA. I very much enjoyed my first race as a Maniac and can’t believe I felt as good as I did after. Maybe I should run more races slowly. Anyway, I’m now looking forward to my Fall races more than ever and can’t wait to meet more Maniacs.
Ich liebe Marathons.