Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Copenhagen Marathon 2017 {race recap}

What. A. Day.

I ran my 2nd BQ (3:35:21), 3rd fastest 26.2, and had a ton of fun running the streets of Copenhagen. {achievement unlocked}

I can't stop smiling when I think of race day.

I signed up for Copenhagen a few months prior to running Boston. I had wanted to run it on the past 2 visits, but never worked out. I was ecstatic that I was able to get the logistics sorted.

Pre race:

We went to the expo on Saturday. It was super chill and had loads of vendors and booths to check out. I found my name on the athlete wall. I also found alternatives to GU which I plan to pursue in the future.

I loved this shirt at the expo.

Night before I laid out my flat Xaar to make sure I had everything I needed for 26.2 in the morning. While it always makes for good Instagram content, the flat Xaar also is part of my race routine. From my professional clarinet playing days I learned that you can be the best, but If you couldn't replicate the product, you were worthless. Same principle applies to my running- routines make for replication of good performances.

We took the metro to Islands Brygge where the start of the race was. We also ran into fellow MRC'er Karina on the way.

Once out of the metro, we walked half a mile to the start area. Our bags were checked at a security point and then we were allowed into the athlete village.

We hung out for a bit and took photos before dropping our bags. Race logistics were A+ organized!

We also ran into the rest of the MRC folks who were running the marathon. It was so nice to see everyone again.

Going into race day I had low expectations for a time goal. I had come to Copenhagen for a beer festival, Ran a beer mile, had been eating some of the most delicious food ever, and had not been running much since Boston 5 weeks prior. Race week, I stopped drinking alcohol on Wednesday- save for a cocktail on Thursday at MRC. I ran 26 miles the week of the marathon- too many miles including 7+ on Thursday with GMP intervals at MRC and had walked around a ton on Friday at a gorgeous museum outside of CPH. Only goal: have fun. Secondary goal: feel good.

I lined up in the start corral in front of the 3:40 pacers. I figured I would be good for at least a 1:50 half, and would adjust expectations as I went on. Weather was on the warm side with a start in the upper 50's, and very few clouds in the sky. We took off and the course was pretty crowded- but was moving. I got into a groove and slipped behind the 3:40 pacers and ran with them for a few k before eventually pulling ahead because it was so crowded.

As we ran around Fælledparken I felt like I had to pee- the next portalets I got to were all occupied so I ducked into a perfect area full of bushes and was back on my way super fast. I caught back up to the pacers and got ahead of them again due to the crowding. We passed a "live zone" and we had to walk for a few seconds because the road was super narrow.

One interesting thing to note is you end up running one of the loops of the course twice. It was really strange to see the 31km and 4km markers and know that we would run the same streets again. Comforting for sure since we knew what to expect.

The course goes through the heart of Copenhagen- it is truly a city marathon. Spectators line most of the course- it's a huge city wide party. I saw my friend Jan (a badass Danish marathoner in the 80's) within the first 10k- so nice to see a familiar face cheering! I also found other MRC members running on the course and chatted a bit. I tossed my bottle of sports drink around 17k and was very concerned about getting enough fluids because the aid stations were about 2.5-3 km apart.

I hit the half in 1:49:16, and decided that attempting a BQ was on. I felt pretty good and figured why the hell not try. I also started walking through water stations around the half. The cups were plastic and difficult to run and drink out of at the same time. Walking the water stops worked great for me at Racine 70.3 for a 1:45 half so I was confident it would be ok for CPH.

At km 25 I found the Mikkeller Running Club cheer zone. As I ran through, I saw Henrik who handed me a beer. I high 5'd pikachu and took a few sips of the beer and then took off running again and high 5'd so many MRC friends.

I felt great. A few km later I ran through the NBRO cheer zone. It was insane. A guy from their club was a few feet behind me and I fed off of all the cheers for him. It was Tour De France style with his club members running along side him for 100m and someone taking videos and ended with a few blasts from a confetti canon. Insane.

I was having so much fun running the streets of one of my favorite cities. I saw another friend spectating after this point- i felt so good and pumped up.

Around km 30 my legs started to feel pretty heavy. I had to tell myself it was only 7.5 more miles to the finish- an hour left- you can do this. I put on my power songs which I had skipped until this point and started jamming out.

"Raise those hands, this is your party. We came here to live life like nobody was watching. I got my city right behind me, if I fall they got me." - Macklemore

With each step my legs got heavier and heavier. Returning to running after walking at the aid stations was getting more and more difficult. With 5k to go I knew I would be very close to 3:35. I couldn't blow it now. With 2km to go my legs felt like lead and I thought they were going to seize up with cramps. Each step took a tremendous amount of willpower and effort. I kept pushing and counted down the minutes until I was done. Just f*cking do it.

I crossed the finish and immediately got super emotional. (Starting to tear up as I type that) I stopped running and bent over to stretch and catch my breath- my legs were toast. Continued with the ugly cry-can't catch my breath-OMG legs are cramping- got my finisher's medal, and proceeded to hobble over to get my victory photo taken.

I negative split the second half by 3 minutes. 1:49:16 and 1:46:05 and qualified for Boston with a healthy 4:39 cushion. I was over the moon!

I ate a yogurt protein pouch and drank a bottle of water while I sat in the grass. My calf muscles were twitching and I was cooked. My hip flexors and hamstrings were in pain.

I ran into MRC'ers post race and we shared a non alcoholic post race beer together.

Josefine kicked major ass and got a 15 minute PB! I was so incredibly proud of her. Many others had PB days as well- it was a great day!

Post race I had pizza and beer with Josefine and her family- the perfect end to this amazing day.

It was a fabulous day of running through one of my favorite cities, seeing great people and having the time of my life. I look back now and realize I knew more people spectating/running in Copenhagen than I ever have at a race in the USA. After 3 visits to CPH, I'll give it the honorary title of my 2nd home. The people, the country are all amazing.


•Oatmeal with honey 2.5 hours pre race.

•Salt tab 20 min pre race, then every 4ish miles

•Gu around every 4 miles total of 4

•Carried Vitamin Well sports drink with me until around 17km

•25% women in the field- I was running with men most of the time

•37% of the field was from outside Denmark

•The spectators didn't have many signs, But power zones had confetti canons, flame machines, they took spectating to 11.

•The live zones took photos of participants and instantly uploaded them to their profile in the app. Ive never seen this technology at a race before.

I give this race a 10/10 for course, organization, spectators and logistics.

It had 10,000 participants but didn't feel huge like Chicago or Boston- it had a nice smaller town race feel.

Would totally run it again.

What's next?

Nothing. For reals. I don't plan on any more races for a while due to some anticipated changes- for the better- in my life. Maybe a fall 5k or half. Nothing crazy.


  1. What a fantastic recap and what an incredible day! Congrats on yet another BQ! Those mile splits are a work of art. They were all within 35 seconds of your average pace which is amazing. Also, way to go with the huge negative split. So many of us try to negative split a marathon and few of us do it. You were actually speeding up when your legs were feeling heavy! Maybe the beer was the magic potion that helped carry you to the finish (or maybe Macklemore)?! Do you think going into the race totally relaxed was a reason you did so well? Anyway, enjoy some well deserved recovery time. It is nice only having shorter distances on the horizon to help recharge. Congrats again.

    1. Tak (thank you)! I never even intended to negative split this one- I figured it would have been a huge positive split! I think the beer helped- I didn't drink much- but a few sips really hit the spot after eating all those sugary GU.

      I think going into it without any real goal helped- I mean sure- it was in the back of my mind that I could try to BQ, but I had pretty much written it off. I felt extra fluffy from food and drinks the week prior :) But the competitive side of me kept that pilot flame lit. It was so much fun and a great course!

    2. Interesting. From talking to other runners lately, it seems they all seem to run their better marathons when they are relaxed going into the race. That said, no matter how relaxed we may be, we still need just a little bit of the competitive side (like you mentioned) to push through the last 6.2 or whenever things start to get rough. Oh yeah, and they need to have done the work to get into race shape (obviously)! :)

  2. Congrats on your swift 3:35:21 and Josefine's PB!!! I'd also rate the CPH Marathon runner tracking app a 10/10. It was far better than any I've ever seen. Very proud Pa'ad here :-)

  3. Congrats on your swift 3:35:21 and Josefine's PB!!! I'd also rate the CPH Marathon runner tracking app a 10/10. It was far better than any I've ever seen. Very proud Pa'ad here :-)

  4. Congrats on the BQ and having such an enjoyable race!!!! Also, confetti canons and flame machines?? I need to up my spectating game. Clearly.

  5. Yay! Congrats! I was so pumped when I saw you BQ'd since I know you thought that with the week and weather (I can tell how sunny it was from the pics, ew! lol) it wasn't going to happen. SO SO SO EXCITED FOR YOU!

    This race sounds fantastic (minus the plastic cups)! Man, that cheer zone!!! I love the medal too. Very simple and classy.

    I love that you went pee in the bushes too. HA!

  6. This is AWESOME!! I am very happy and proud of you. Way to go for BQing again.