Congratulations to both Teresa and Zoe on a fantastic first marathon success in Prague. Both women ran a great, injury free and enjoyable event with some excellent finishing times to boot. A well run, scenic event – Recommended.
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Zoe and Teresa: The Prague Marathon Epic Adventure
“We set off early Friday morning from a dreary Edinburgh….the journey was surprisingly easy – taxi on time, Teresa ready on time (hooray!) no queues at the airports, flight on time, and even a man waiting to meet us with a sign with my name on it (never had that before – VIP moment) my brother in law had sourced a taxi company that did airport=hotel direct transfers, reasonably priced, so we opted for that over a bus!). Felt quite smug telling Edi taxi driver why we were headed to Prague until we found out he was ex military and a marathon pro (sub 2.30 times…jeezus!).
We arrived to a beautiful sunny day in Prague and the journey into the centre was swift. Our hotel was brilliant – a gem of a find thanks to T’s Lonely Planet – Miss Sophie’s….actually a boutique hostel but it was not hostel-ly at all – we had booked an apartment and it was spacious and lovely. In an old tenement building so had high ceilings, big windows, and a beer mural on the wall. All good 🙂
We got the Expo bit out of the way (this was the worst bit as it was way out of town and not so easy to find) to get our race packs. My sister Jemma and her hubby Gary arrived later that day. We spent our pre race time relaxing, eating, drinking (moderately…but when in Prague….) and seeing some sights. We had been warned a lot about not doing too much walking the day before – it was great to have an excuse to lie in the park in the sun!
Prague really is a beautiful city and there was plenty to do to keep you occupied pre and post race. The popular sights are around the old town where the architecture is stunning. A lot centres around the Old Town Square, which is actually where the race started and finished. As we wandered through it on the Saturday we saw the race being set up and the reality of it started to sink in a bit….nerve wracking! I think by this point both of us were just ready to get it done.
Big day arrived and we got up early to have our porridge, faff around with all our gear (we both like faffing, and had already spent about 2 hours the night before getting gear ready….who knew there is so much to get ready?! Biggest challenge was attaching the zillions of required gels to our personages. If I never see another running gel I will be happy…). We took the short trip by subway (the transport systems are great there) to the old town, dropped off our bags and began to get a bit hysterical with nerves/excitement!! Took an age to get to our start pen as the square was packed with both runners and spectators trying to get to the right places. that was the only part which felt a bit disorganised and I wasn’t really enjoying the claustrophia of crowds. The start line snaked for log way along various side streets – in the end we just hopped over the barriers to roughly the right place and hoped for the best. A very annoying, over-excited tanoy woman kept shrieking that it was about to start and before we knew it we were moving. Over the start line, through the narrow streets and very soon over one of the beautiful bridges.
The next 4 hours are a bit of a blur now! We ran together for the first few miles then drifted apart both in our individual ‘zones’ and music! The atmosphere was good, not a lot of chatting going on but good support from the crowd and a real mix of nationalities and ages. Overall it seemed that there were a lot of good runners – it’s one of the fastest courses so a lot of people are out for a PB. A lot of the course is in and around the actual old town, and by the river, so a lot of the scenery was really beautiful and acted as a good distraction. Personally I really enjoyed doing this in a place that was totally new and interesting to me…..the lovely sunshine helped too 🙂 General race set up was good, with regular water/isotonic drinks stations and also lots of sponges! We loved these – they really cool you down and I also used a couple under my Camelback which had started rubbing on my shoulders.
We had planned where we would see my sister along the route, and this was such a great motivation; the design of the route meant that spectators could see racers at all different points without moving too far themselves. We saw Jem and Gary 5 times, and as I knew when these points were I could really look forward to them and it totally kept me going knowing there were friendly faces coming up! Jem ran with me a few times which was a good laugh. I was in a bit of a trance and kept asking her if she had seen a man with a balloon – she thought I was losing it but actually I was talking about the pace maker! (there were runners setting every 15 min time intervals….so I was chasing the 4.15 balloon man!). I found this useful as when en route my maths was a bit sketchy and I wasn’t sure what time I was on for. Just tried to keep a steady pace. At around mile 18 I met 2 very interesting characters in full body ‘morph’ suits, this cheered me up no end as I had good banter with them and they got so much attention from the crowd, running between them I could pretend the cheers were for me 🙂 Having my name on my vest was also good as it means you get a few random cheers from spectators as you go round!
There were a couple of doubling back bits, which I hate as you have to pass all the 1000s (it seems) of people who are ahead of you, but I guess some of this is inevitable when they have to keep the race within certain limits. The final 12 k was also a repeat of an earlier loop which felt quite tough as you knew EXACTLY how long it was (this part was also the dreariest)….however the last 2 k is back near the old town and it was lovely to pass the final bridge and know you were on the home straight. I caught Jem for the final time on the last K, and she ran with me all the way to the finish. It was so funny; she was the only lady to finish with an anorak, handbag, and guidebook!! It was a real special moment to cross that line, I couldn’t really believe it. I finished in 4.13 and T in 4.39 which we were both happy with – probably not the best I could have done but I was just happy to finish. Getting bags and meeting up afterwards was easy and we were on a good high from finishing. A wee walk back to the tram stop was probably good rather than stopping for too long.
The afternoon consisted of cold showers, hot showers, foot rubs, and a couple of very well deserved cold beers :)) We had a lovely dinner that night in a great Italian restaurant which Teresa had spotted right on the river. Prosecco has never tasted so good. The waiter was very grumpy but we had come to get used to this – don’t expect cheery service in Prague!
I stayed on for a couple of days and Teresa till the Friday – so we were able to wind down and see more sights (those which didn’t involve too much walking or ANY stairs!) – highlights were the tower in the Old Town Square and just wandering over the Charles Bridge, down wee side streets to pavement cafes and interesting buildings. We also treated ourselves to an afternoon in a spa of a fancy hotel which had a lovely rooftop pool and sauna/steam rooms. We had a massage from a rather stern lady which was not a patch on Krista’s, the Czech ‘style’ is not really my cup of tea!
We would like to thank all at ERN for their support and the great banter/advice etc along all of the well planned training runs – we really couldn’t have done it without you all I don’t think! Despite both having sore knees beforehand we felt ready for it when the day finally came, and a lot of that was because we knew we had the miles under our belt; and had had so much reassurance from our friends at ERN. I also managed to raise a lot of money for Macmillan in the process….to date £3,400 pounds which is fantastic. Thanks so much to all who donated. A lot of that was also tied in with the black tie event which I organised 2 weeks after the marathon (WHY??!! Not the best planning; think I overestimated the effort required for each thing, let along both!). This event was a great success (a few pics on my site http://www.justgiving.com/Zoe-Grayson) and it was lovely to see T, as well as Fi and Brendan there. It was a shame it was the night before the Edi marathon or more ERNers could have made it. Next time! (if there is a next time…) you all should come! I’d like to congratulate all ERNers who did so well in the Edi marathon…especially those who shared all our long Sunday runs, and double-especially to the amazing Sooz Wiltshire who got such an incredible time, totally awe inspiring!
I have spent the time since trying to recover and take it all in. We did our first Sunday run again today, good to see the gang and get back in the swing…legs still bit tired tho! After a lot of ‘never again’s I am now already considering doing another marathon at some point….I can now see how the bug gets you. First on our list is the Medoc….much more up our street I think – around the vineyards of Bordeaux, with wine at every mile!
My goodness, this is far too long and I don’t anyone is still reading. You asked for it Murdo!!
All in all would highly recommend the Prague marathon and Prague itself. Thanks again for everyone’s support and we look forward to more ERN camaraderie in the future.
Zoe and Teresa”
A Selection of Jemma’s (Zoe’s sister) photos: