©München Marathon

©München Marathon

My second Marathon. My second 42.195 kilometres, took me to the city of Munich. Sadly, the prior training did not go as smoothly as I hoped it would. A series of small issues here and there hindered me from the streets and mountains trails, for most of the summer. The main problem playing up around the largest joint of the human body, connecting thigh and leg, the Articulatio genus, also known as the knee. 

 It has been an on-going pain around my knee that disabled me to log the necessary miles week in and week out. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) and Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) became two additions to my vocabulary. They were the explanation for the continuous agony I encountered ever time I run. PFPS, as well as ITBS are two very common running injuries. PFPS, or runner's knee, refers to an irritation, where the kneecap (patella) rests on the thighbone. The second one, ITBS occurs when the iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, is tight or inflamed. The healing formula for either of those two injuries is rest. Do not run, in order to put as little impact as possible onto the knee. Hence, for the majority of June, July, August, and even September, I would find myself sitting on the spinning bike or exercising on the cross trainer.

 It is the 11th October 2015 and my alarm rings at 6:00 am. It was time to wake up, time to run my second marathon, my second 42.195 kilometres. No matter how much I had trained, or how much pain I encountered, the time of no return had come. I put on my running gear, taped my knees and popped 400 milligrams of Ibuprofen. My usual breakfast before a long-distance run includes a portion of porridge with fruits and nuts, one liter of some sort of hydration drink and chewing one of those energy-promising bars.

The streets of the Bavarian capital are quite. The air is fresh and the morning dew is still sitting on the windshields of the cars. As I make my way towards the Olympic Park, I pass numerous runners. Some look more professional than others. Some appear more anxious, whilst others look relaxed, but everyone had excitement written on their faces. I drop off my bag and warm up. At 9:45 am, 15 minutes before the race, I make my way to Block A on the starting grid. The clock is ticking. People are stretching, loosing up their legs, discussing their target times, some are praying for higher support, some are in their tunnel. The mayor of Munich shares his final words of encouragement, before the clock strikes 10:00 am. I hear a canon beat and the ground starts to shake. Thousands of people begin to move, I press "start" on my pulse watch and see the seconds counting.

 Step by step, kilometer by kilometer, I am working myself through the streets of Munich. The route takes the runners on a journey that started in the Olympic park and continued through the "Englischer Garten," one of Europe's largest urban green spaces, bigger than New York City's Central park. It goes on by running passed buzzing pedestrians, elapsing the city hall at "Marienplatz", along the Ludwigstraße boulevard. Ultimately, the final 300 meters take me inside the Olympic stadium of 1972, where I cross the long-awaited finish line. I press "stop." My watch ceases to count and shows me 03:33:09. Initially, I was overcome by disappointment, had I aimed for a faster time, undercutting the 3:30 hour hurdle. Anyhow, bearing in mind my limited preparation and on-going knee problems, I was satisfied and actually improved my personal best from the Madrid Marathon by 02:59 minutes. At the end of the day, I am only at the beginning of a long and tough road to compete in the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. 

I received my heart shaped medal and looked around. I picked up a fresh and cold, non-alcoholic wheat beer, grabbed a pretzel and embraced this moment of accomplishment. I stood on the field, where not only gold medals where won, but Germany beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final in 1974. Around me, people were sitting on the grass, lying on their backs, or stretching their legs. Their faces were speaking for themselves. Beads of sweat were rolling down their cheeks, their bodies appeared in a state of complete exhaustion and pain, but each with a big smile on their lips. There was something magical in the air, something mysterious and ever so wonderful, something that I find hard to describe, but suggest to experience for yourself by competing in an event as such.