Sunday, January 12, 2014

Vienna Silvestlauf Race Report

This was the first race in my training season preparing for the Vienna City Marathon in April 2014. Coming off a strong performance and new PR (2:39) at the Philadelphia Marathon in Nov 2013, I took ample time for recovery and reverse tapering.

The Vienna Silvesterlauf is a traditional race on the Vienna Ringstrasse, a grand avenue that circles Vienna's inner district. Along the way, it passes some of the city's most famous buildings, such as the parliament, town hall, the state opera and many others. With more than 3500 participants, it is also one of the largest races in Vienna's race repertoire.

I was a chance spectator of this race in 2012, when I randomly stumbled upon the race on my way to brunch while vacationing in Austria. Then and there I decided I would run the race the following year. So when the time came to visit my parents in Vienna for the Christmas holidays, I pre-registered and invited them to spectate and cheer.

Race day itself was damp and grey, though fortunately temperatures made it possible to run in shorts and short sleeves. After a brief warm-up session, I positioned myself at the front of the line, ready for a hectic start knowing there were no corrals. Following an encouraging announcement by Austria's secretary of sports and interestingly also the American Ambassador to Austria, the countdown began. Immediately we were off, with the beginning heat running well under 5 min/mi. I dialed in a 5:10 pace and did my best to pass those fading early. Soon the field was sufficiently spread out and I focused on chasing down a series of strong competitors. To my surprise I was able to hold the pace I had set for myself - despite not feeling the best going into the race, and - only at the beginning of the new training season - without any sharpening or race-specific preparation. After 3 grueling miles the goal came close (the race was slightly longer than a 5K, at 5.4K) and I came upon a final turn leading to a 300m dash to the finish line. Here I unleashed a kick, and - passing my unsuspecting rivals on the inside of the curve - was able to gain ground and take over three runners in this final stretch. Enough to land me 11th out of more than 3500 runners and take third place in my age group, an effort I was very happy with and hopefully a promising outlook on my spring racing season!

About the cross the finish line in 11th place and 3rd in my age group!