I have run a lot of races – 59 to be exact – and there are not many races that I have done more than once or twice. Winterlaufe is an exception to that. I have run Winterlaufe every year since 2015. It was my first ever 8k and holds a special place in my heart. Each year has brought different emotions, last year being one with ups and downs similar to the course itself. I was not sure if I would even run Winterlaufe in 2018 due to the negative experience I had the year before (not related to the race itself but the experience I personally had before and after the race), but I am so glad that I decided to go in with a fresh, clear mind and have a great time this year.
This year was completely different from last year. This year I was focused on family – my husband was going to actually run the race this year (last year he walked it) and my brother-in-law was running it for the first time. I had several friends running it, too, along with many members of my local running group. My out-of-town friend Bri was running the race that I hadn’t seen since my birthday and to make things even better, my friend Paula and I started talking again after months of not being friends just a few days before the race. All of this added up to making me feel super positive about the race.
Unfortunately my training was not there. I had not run hills in forever and I had actually done very little running in the weeks leading up to Winterlaufe due to a nagging cold that lingered. I didn’t set high expectations for the race. I did not want to get injured or make my sickness any worse. So I did not plan to get a PR. I wanted to take it easy and hopefully finish in under an hour. I started the race running with my friends Bri and Christine. Not long into the race Christine took off ahead of Bri and I. Bri and I stuck together for the rest of the race. We did great through the first half of the race. The course conditions were better than in years past – muddy instead of snowy or icy! I love and hate that it is an out and back course. I love it because it gives me a chance to see all of the other runners and walkers out there. I hate it because it means going up and down the same hills twice!
And those hills finally got to me. When we made the turn off Beyer Rd, the dirt road with the famous Gugel bridge, we immediately hit the first hill headed back and my lungs were screaming. I told Bri I needed to walk and did not expect her to hang back with me, but she did. We didn’t walk for long but we did have to take a few breaks after each big hill heading back to the finish line. I really enjoyed running with Bri – we chatted and cheered on our friends, talked about our training and everything going on in our life. It made the 5 miles go by quickly! We ended up finishing in just under an hour, for me an official time of 57:52, 11:39 pace. Our amazing speedy friends were waiting for us at the finish line and they stuck around to wait for Ken to finish. They didn’t have to wait too long – he finished in 1:00:20, a 12:09 pace! Huge improvement from last year! I was so proud of him as he told me that he stuck to his run/walk intervals (1 minute running, 1 minute walking) the whole race, meaning that he ran half the race. I could tell he was really proud of himself and I was beaming with joy telling everyone how well he did.
After the race we headed back in for the awards ceremony to find out that my brother-in-law had placed third in his age group! He got to bring home a little cowbell award! My brother-in-law only started running seriously in the last year or so, and he’s a natural. It was great to have my sister and nephew there to cheer us all on and then spend the day together afterwards shopping at the Birch Run Outlets.
I am really looking forward to completing the Frankenmuth series again this year – Volkslaufe in July and Bruckelaufe in October. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be back again to conquer those hills next year!