21,1 km – 8 seconds

Sunday it was the day where we were going to run a half marathon again. Granted I’m not sure I would have done it if Sabine hadn’t been pushing me a bit .. and if not for the fact that they also had a race for children where Felix could run his first race on his own (legs). Anyway, Sabine had us all signed up to run at the Hannover Marathon this weekend.

Felix’ race, the so called “Kinderlauf” (Children’s Race) was Saturday and he was signed up in the youngest age group – 3 years and younger. They had the different age groups start separately, with his age group last.

During the weeks up to the race Felix was very excited to be running Kinderlauf, but for a while I had some doubt that he actually could run it. Not that he would not be able to actually run the 1,2km (3/4 mile), but we had started to run with him to make him learn to run without stopping to pick up sticks on the way or to suddenly run over looking at a funny flower etc. Like many other kids his age he likes to play and is very curious – ignoring the fact that his favorite past time is to pick up a stick .. even in New York he found one to run around with. Anyway, the last weeks he had stated to develop the this irritating attitude of “I don’t want to” and would just start to whine and say “I don’t waaaant ”. We’d tries to talk to him about it and we would just be running very short rounds just to make sure he would get the feeling of completing his runs, but we also told him that if he could not run at home without stopping and whining he would not be running the Kinderlauf. That seemed to make an impression on him and he had run the last couple of times without any issue.


At race day we started to talk about how to run, until that day he had only run while holding the hand of either of us – on his own expressive wish. I do not know if it’s called race fever or what it was, but he was determined to run alone – do dad (or mom) in sight. Not really wanting him to end up with a regrettable experience standing alone somewhere in the middle of the course we made a deal .. I would run with him, but keep far away from him.

At the start Felix asked to be alone, so with 30 or so other kids lined up at the start I left him alone and walked down the course a bit (still checking if he was ok, but he was just standing looking at what happened around him). The start went and Felix started to run with the other kids – his own pace as I’d told him so many times … do not look at the others – run on your own – and when he came up near me I start running next to him. He must really have made up his mind as he told me … “but dad, you said you would run outside the course”. Ok, I had done that – and I guess as so many others before me I could not help being a bit too involved – I told him I would run next to him and he could run alone.

Felix runs, alone, concentrated, but he was slowing down to an almost standstill as he concentrates hard in “lifting his legs” (looked a bit funny) and I ask if he want to hold my hand. NO DAD. Ok, well … come on then.

Felix picked up the pace and I know he was a bit faster as he normally was, but he could easily run faster – there were several kids both in front of him and behind him. To encourage him I tell him “come on Felix, you can run a bit faster” and it seems to work. I bit later, as the pace drops, I do it again, but this time with the prompt answer NO DAD.


Up the course is mom waiting to take photos. Felix sees this and speed up to her in almost double speed, just to realize that this was not the finish. A bit disappointed and (I think) a bit concerned about how long this is going to last he slows down, but then I tell him the goal is just around the corner and he starts to demonstratively swing his arms as someone running really fast. A bit later we can see the goal and when he realizes this he speeds up again.

Over the goal line he proudly receives his medal. Photos … we were allowed to take as many of them we wanted – I do not think anything in the world could have made him less proud at this point. He ran and he ran alone. That was his goal and he made it.

His time, 8:36, (7:08 min/km / 11:24 min/mile) was about 2 minutes faster than what we had done at home. I have no idea what place this was, but he was not fastest (by far) and he was not last (by far) and not the youngest (the youngest finishing “runner” was 1 ½ years old!) .


Sunday it was Sabine’s and my turn to run. Sabine was almost in shape and I was as usually not well prepared. I wanted to have pushed Felix, but the (stupid) race rules prevents pushing of baby joggers (just like Las Vegas marathon, we could have done it – there were at least two others). Why do they keep doing this? It makes no sense to me.

The race start was a very comfortable 11:00 am, with the full marathon starting two hours before. It was times so we would just have left the start area when the first runner would come blazing in a new race record of 2:10-and-something. Phew.

There is more than 4000 people to the start of the half marathon and as usual we were somewhere down the last half of the pack. It took us about 6 minutes to cross the start line, which is nothing compared to the 1 ½ hour we have tried at Bay to Breakers, but the race was timed by a chip so we would still get our real running time.

Goal time for me was somewhere between 1:45 and 1:50. Normally I would say that 1:45 is my goal, but really with this preparation … I was doubtful. At the start line we were actually able to run a bit and Sabine and I said goodbye until the finish.

I didn’t really know what this race would bring me, but the first km was 5:02 – a bit under the 5:05 – 5:10 I had planned to run. The second km was 4:59 … I know it was time to slow down a bit, or at least keep the pace.

I guess it was race fever because the next 6 km all were with a pace of less than 5:00 min/km (8 min/mi). Felix and my mother in law were waiting here for a hello and a kiss … and there was a water station where I got water and took the GU I had with me. Sabine always tell me to take GU, but I almost never every do – today I had caved and had taken some GU with me. I had planned to take it at 11km (~7mi), but at this time I already knew that if I had to keep this up miracles had to happen (or at least concentration).

I decided to try keeping the pace for a while, knowing this is opportunistic for my level of preparation. I love eating bananas, while running, and was very happy to see these available on the course. It got it twice and – with the GU and some concentration – I managed to keep the pace … except for one km where I walked to get plenty water at the aid station. Finish time was 1:44.52 (chip time) – just 8 seconds slower than my last half marathon in Bryce Canyon last year.


Sabine had a better race than me, when judging by the comments after the race. Where I knew almost all the way that this was going to be hard she was wiser and slowed down a bit, while still keeping the very respectable time of 2:22:59.


Felix and Sabine’ mom was waiting for us at the finish line and Felix got to run the last piece together with Sabine.


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