It’s now two weeks since my biggest achievement so far – Jungfrau Marathon 2017, in time 5:15:06. And I thought it would be good time for my first ever marathon rep, so read on if you are interested why and how I did it.
Die Schönste Marathonstrecke Der Welt (The Most Beautiful Marathon Course In The World) didn’t give the best views this time, but it was an amazing experience still. Other runners might have different views but I didn’t really mind that the 42.195 km and 1’829 meters altitude difference went in rain and clouds (no sight of Jungfrau mountain itself) since I knew by then the hoods like my own pockets. With the help of fog I also got lost in the runners high and could focus more on the running itself. And so I did it and finished my first ever marathon (funnily enough the Virgin Marathon) in time: 5:15:06. Though the time didn’t really matter – all I wanted to do was to finish that bastard and do something I’ve never done before. And enjoy it.
week before I went surfing in Morocco
True to my adventurer self, I never really did any specific marathon training for this. A week before the marathon I went surfing in Morocco and even drank a beer the night before (better not to do any dramatical changes, I thought). Last year, I walked the uphill from Lauterbrunnen and Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg, and I’ve done a 11h hike this year. Basically, I knew what was ahead of me. And I’ve been running and training, one way or another, almost all my life. I don’t know if I’m average or not, most likely not, but I do know I have good physics, active lifestyle, and I’ve ran few half’s and Lidingöloppet 30k. Theoretically, running that far (and walking the uphill) shouldn’t be a problem for someone like me. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t suggest the same method to anyone else. Expect the mental part; that even when you’re afraid and feel the challenge is a bit too big (I was damn scared and doubting myself a lot pre-race), you should do it, or at least try.
I had and still have nasty wound (from Morocco) in my foot and it did hurt before the start. And I did doubt almost everything. However, I decided to show up and try. And look how far it got me! After the 30k mark I just kept thinking how I’ve never ran that far at once, and every step and meter after that was a little achievement. Finally, I went and finished that bastard and got that cool finisher shirt and free beer. And an important life lesson.
I’ve heard one should have a marathon soundtrack, but I chose to run without music, and just get lost in my thoughts and experience the runners high fully. And it was a good decision – I had nice 5h+ to reflect, on the experience itself and everything around me. In the beginning, I ran past my old home. And then past the houses and streets where I’ve been both incredibly happy and dramatically sad. I run past the beautiful villages of Lauterbrunnen and Wengen with cheering crowds, and up to Kleine Scheideggen, where I experienced the most fun and magical ski season last winter. Some parts of the track I’ve even skied down, or went sliding on our way to the office Christmas dinner (first and last for me). Simply, there were many memories, good and bad, along the way to keep me occupied besides the running itself, and all the time I had the feeling I was home. And enjoying it.
It was also fun to be back racing; pick up my number from the race centre and feel the familiar atmosphere of a big sporting event. A dose of excitement, a bit of fear and a lot of joy and admiration for the ones who do it faster or who do it despite whatever difficulties they have. I might never get back to regular racing, but I do enjoy going back to the old familiar things from time to time. It feels good to know what you are doing and be a bit nostalgic for the previous events and past experiences. Some do rock’n roll, I do sports. Or well, I do both…
sauna would have been nice
In the end of the race, the last 10k in the clouds and cold rain, my hands were freezing and it was difficult to hold the beer I was handed in the finish. On the other hand, the weather must have been good for me especially – I’m used to perform well enough in cold, though I have to admit I missed sauna
a bit a lot at the finish.
Later thinking, I do regret I didn’t have extra hands nor any support taking a good after the race pic of me (and hold my beer); but that doesn’t really matter as long as I managed to do the marathon itself. All by myself. The greatest and very important achievement of my life so far. And you know, when you do something like this, you pretty much feel you can do almost anything and the new ideas skip few levels when getting crazier than the marathon. I’m not sure if the next big idea will be another marathon, ultra mountain marathon, or maybe climbing up the Jungfrau mountain. But whatever it will be, it will be amazing. And challenging.
In the end I also want to say that in addition to the experience itself, Jungfrau Marathon really was worth the money (second hand entry from my friend 100CHF); it was well organized and service and add ons were good quality. Swiss quality. Especially with the SBB partnership the entry really pays off, if the marathon itself doesn’t. It’s one of the toughest and most beautiful marathon courses in the world (with good weather it really provides with amazing views) and the organization is marvelous, though there were little hick-ups with the services after race (fyi, critique has been communicated directly to the organization and hopefully next year this part works well too). I can really recommend the race for anyone fit enough; it’s a nice event for spectators too, but I’d recommend you to consider first the running and only then the spectator / support act part. And two weeks after, I have to say that the best part of this kind of thing must be the superhuman feeling you get after finishing it without bigger problems. You sure you don’t want to experience that?
Even though I may sound vain, it doesn’t really harm that others are so amazed of my wonder woman skills and endurance after something like this. It was really fun to walk almost normally to the local bar in Interlaken after the race and meet my friends who didn’t run the race. Yes, I had done the craziest thing that day, though I have to give them the credit to be overall awesome people and excelling in other things.
They you might not run marathons, but you do better in managing and organizing and climbing mountains and raising kids and just being overall badass people. Long distance running might be my thing, but there are many other cool things you can do too. And everyone has their own struggle(s). Remember that and just do what makes you happy. And enjoy your achievements; I sure do enjoy mine now.
Ps. If you have some amazing marathon/mountain running/nordic skiing marathon/whatever similar event to suggest, feel free to comment and help me maybe invent a new goal for next winter/year.
PPS. My running data can be found in Strava in here.