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Race Report: Hapfelmeier Laufcup

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After my missed Tegernseelauf I quickly looked around for alternatives to run on the originally planned date (September 22). Between the Isar-Lauf Tölz – Lenggries and the Hapfelmeier Laufcup the latter won due to the later start time. Here is my report on how it went.

Race Morning

With a start time of 11:15am for a race that is about an hour away from my place I had a very relaxed morning. In order to leave enough room for packet pickup and warm-up I aimed for a 9am arrival and left the house at 8. Traffic was low (what else to expect on a Sunday morning?!) and navigation to the place of action was easy. I was surprised to find some sort of (open-air) expo for a race of this size (about 550 participants all events combined) and since I arrived plenty early I took my time to visit the booths (excluding the one from our German Army).

Packet pickup was quickly done without a long line, so I found myself back at the car at around 10am. Things I had left to do:

  • Fix bib on race shirt
  • Obsess over the right clothing
  • Get nervous

That last part was rather easy. The middle part was not as easy, since the day started out sunny but chilly and I knew it’d warm up by the time I was to race. I opted for long pants and sleeves for the warm-up and then shorts for the race. Good decision, as it turned out to be well into the 20s (°C).

With all the race prep done, I went for a 4km warm-up (simple out-and back, as I didn’t want to get lost) with a couple of strides thrown in. Stretch, change into running clothes, one last gear check and I was ready to run.

Tactics

I’ve learned to spend some thoughts on the race tactics for any long(-ish) distance race. Back in April I had planned to split the race into four 5km chunks. As the Vienna City Marathon turned out to be very crowded I wasn’t able to follow my plan back then.

For this race, I picked up a different strategy:

  • 5mi/8km in a “comfortable” high Z2 effort.
  • 5mi/8km with more effort, somewhere in the Z3 range.
  • 5km all out.

I’m really happy that my training taught me to judge my effort not only by pace and heart-rate, but also by perceived exertion (RPE). See, when I line up for a race, my body goes into race-mode and I can sport crazy high heart-rate readings, being pumped with adrenaline and all. While my normal (non-race) Z2 is somewhere in the high 150bpm, running the same RPE level in a race results in heart-rate data well above 170.

The Race is On

I should rather say “the races are one”, as this event sported some kids runs, a 5km run, 10km run, 10km nordic walking and the half-marathon. The 5km was already done when I lined up and the 10km events where started about 25 minutes prior to the half-marathon.

The course was a 10km loop along the river Ammer with a short extra out-and-back for the half-marathoners to make it 21km. For a course along a river the road was surprisingly hilly at times, but otherwise a nice and scenic run. After each loop we’d go back into Weilheim to the start-/finish area to get some cheering going. Mind you, this is a small local race, so there were hardly any spectators out on the course.

126 fellow runners lined up for the half-marathon, which meant there was very little traffic out on the course. Following my plan I was happy to see that I was able to run a 4’43” average for the first 8km and felt really good. I wasn’t worried that I got passed a lot for the first couple of kilometers and continued to run my race (at this point I’m definitely running for PRs rather than podium spots).

Come kilometer eight I picked up the pace by about 5-10 seconds per kilometer. The increase was quite noticeable on the RPE scale, but hardly so on the heart-rate front. While I averaged 177bpm for the first 8km this rose only to a 182bpm average for the next 8km. Pace-wise I managed to run 4’34”/km for this section of the race and I started to pass other runners. It looked like my plan would work out, which kept me going!

Sadly, after 16km/10mi I wasn’t able to pick up the pace any further despite my going all out. In contrary, I had to fight hard not to run a slower pace and barely finished the last 5km with a 4’52”/km average. Not sure what to make of it yet, but I was really spent when I crossed the finish line after 1h39’45”. This is more than a five minute improvement over my first half-marathon in April and a huge PR for me. I focused all my energy on the last couple of hundred meters to beat 1h40’ on the clock.

In the pain cave, focused on the clock.In the pain cave, focused on the clock.

Overall I finished 36th out of 126 and placed 5th in my AG (M40).

The Aftermath

After catching my breath for a while I was able to enjoy some beer (alcohol-free, of course!) and cheer on other runners as they finished their race. All in all I have to say the crowd was really nice and the race very well organized.

After taking a shower in a local school I enjoyed viewing the rest of the event from a nearby café, sipping on a well-earned cappuccino.

I have to give an extra (albeit anonymous) shout-out to the woman with bib-number 12 who started her second lap when I approached the finish area and whom I was worrying for whether or not she’d make the time-cut. Turns out she did, finishing in 3h15”, over half an hour after the race in front of her. Quite a sign of endurance to keep going with no one in sight in front of you. Kudos!

Speaking of kudos, here’s the activity on Strava:

I’m super happy with my result and I also learned a lot where I can improve on in the future. My next race will be in Baltimore, and that is a story of its own!

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