Inspired by Ilse Dippmann, the initiator of the Austrian Women’s Run, and her ambition to get women and girls into running, we also decided to take part in this race – alongside 33,000 other women. Here’s what our editor Viktoria experienced during her four weeks of preparation and on race day.
Time vs. speed.
The initial idea was to take part in the Women’s Run just for fun without any competitive ambitions. It was my spinning companion Hüly who first thought of it. I was a bit nervous at the beginning because I only ran my first 5k race last autumn. Nevertheless I decided to go for it. Admittedly as the motivation grew, ambition also followed. The goal was to run 10 km in 56 minutes. Without lots of preparation this seemed a rather ambitious idea to me – particularly after the first training sessions.
A colleague of mine who is an experienced participant in this event suggested joining one of the many training groups that form specially for the Women’s Run. No sooner said than done. In the three weeks leading up to the race I practised every Monday evening with the – “Schwedenplatz” runners. The group was an enormous help and motivation, but the interval training sessions were pretty tough. Giving up or not showing up was not an option though. Running together with the same people week after week gave me a great feeling of team spirit and belonging. I even started to miss running and the group between the training sessions. (Because of a bank holiday the last Monday session before the race was cancelled, but we got great advice from our trainer on how to prepare in the final week before the race).
Suddenly you begin to spot runners in your social environment you haven’t noticed before – at work, among your friends or at the gym. Even going out in the evening I found I was mysteriously drawn to people who turned out to be fellow runners too. It seemed that running was a way to connect – even off the running track.
It’s all about running.
How fast can you do a kilometre? Where is the ideal running route nearby? Do I need a GPS running watch? Running became part of my life. As a group we compared winning times and studied the pace of marathon runners while watching the finishers of the Vienna city marathon. The best times for women are 5k in 17 minutes throughout the marathon distance – how do they even do that?
Of course I bought a running watch ☺ – inspired by Monika, an ambitious marathon runner I’ve already had the chance to interview for this magazine. And it was a good idea. Over the last couple of weeks the watch not only kept track of my running sessions but my everyday life too. Sitting in meetings for hours the watch even encouraged me to get up and move – to the amusement of whoever was sitting next to me ☺. After long days in front of the computer I even squeezed in a run or a long walk in order to reach my 100% activity quota for the day. Thanks to this watch it was now possible to manage my speed and clock my first 10k run in 60min. Not bad given that I was a newcomer to running ;).
Stretch your limits.
Week by week the training sessions get more advanced and more demanding – obviously the aim is to prepare for the competition. The longer the intervals get, the shorter the breaks are. At breath-taking speed I run along the “Praterhauptalle” with the running group as it gets darker and darker. Heart rate at its peak but happy to have successfully finished the training. In the end I felt even a little bit proud of what I could do.
Sunday, race day.
The runners were everywhere. On the way to the event location you could see women of all ages wearing running gear and shoes. The 5k distance race had already started at 9:00 am. Arriving at the venue I could already see the relieved and happy faces of the 5k finishers. 33,000 women registered to participate in this enormous event. 10:30 was the starting time for the 10k distance. Hüly and I waited in block C for the start. Somewhere amongst all those women were our other colleagues too.
Starting signal. The sun was out, it was 28°C and we were off running, cheered on by the spectators and to the beat of live samba music. The atmosphere was great, but the route seemed pretty tough, especially along the “Praterhauptallee”, a dead straight avenue 😉 The time between kilometre 6 and 7 seemed pretty endless. Turning into the home stretch I used my last bit of energy before crossing the finish line. Done! A medal, a rose and a bottle of water in my hands, I felt happy but also exhausted.
First and foremost, all the experiences and good memories from the last couple of weeks. Crossing the finish line together with other fantastic women was a “moment to cherish”.
I’m determined to keep running and training with Team Schwedenplatz, starting next Monday at 19:30. (These running groups don’t end with the race but go on throughout the year.) I’m really proud of my friend Hüly and myself. Now that I have been bitten by the running bug, I’m pretty sure we will return for another Austrian Women’s Run next year 😉