The 2nd to last race this year was the Nikolauslauf in Tübingen. Nikolaustag is the 6th of December and a huge tradition in Germany. The good kids get visted by St. Nikolaus and the bad kids by Krampus. If you do not know about Krampus, you should watch this Christopher Waltz interview with Jimmy Fallon. St. Nikolaus came by our house and left everyone a chocolate Nikolaus.
We traveled to my home town and met up with friends for dinner. Andi, the host, had done the race several times and mentioned the steep hill and how it would slow my time down by several minutes compared to a flat HM. Anyhow, I had prepared for running uphill quite a bit the past few weeks on the treadmill, a nice little climb in the neighbouring town, and finally a run up Kampenwand (about 1000ft of climbing straight) two weeks before race day.
Race morning was uneventful, it was in the mid 30s and overcast. There were about 2700 runners this year. The first few miles were downhill, which flattened out and after a few rollers the first long climb came. It seemed pretty easy the first time around. After that I was wondering when the “BIG” climb was about to come, but that was it. It was more rollers and then we were back at the top in an open field. Hmm, I was thinking by myself that was pretty easy so far. Maybe I should pick it up some. I was running a comfortable 4.30 min/km (7.15 min/mi) pace at that point. The second loop was about to start, this time with an even longer downhill section on a trail. I put the hammer down and dropped my average pace to 4.25min/km. Once things flattened back out, my legs were shot and it took a while before I could get a normal stride going.
It wasn’t too long before the long steep climb came around again.
My heart rate was close to 180 at that point and my pace was starting to slow. The atmosphere was great and there were quite a few people at the race course. My former track and field coach, Charly, was standing half way up the hill, which was a great support and fun to see him. He was at the race because his kids were doing their first HM. I hate to say this, but my friend Andi was right, last 5-6km were quite painful.
Although I slowed down a little bit towards the end, I managed to finish in 1.37.05 h.mm.ss, which was only 36s slower than the HM I ran in September on a super fast flat course. Enough reason to be proud for a HM with approx. 1000ft of climbing! It was a well organised fun event that I will certainly consider for a pre-Christmas goal next year.