Pete Tanguay

Vienna City Marathon 2011

by on Apr.17, 2011, under Mavia, My NF Hero, Races

Vienna City 2011 is behind me now and what an experience.  An experience that started in 2001 when I ran my first marathon in Berlin with my brother.  This was basically the result of a challenge he sent out to family and friends after he watched the 2000 marathon – “Hey this looks fun – I’ll run it in 2001 if someone will run with me”.  I accepted the challenge in February and the rest is history.

Ed runs 2 marathons a year, Berlin in the Fall and a marathon in the Spring.  I’ve run Berlin with him twice and have always wanted to do one in the Spring.  It’s our way of getting together and seeing the world together, 26.2 miles at a time. Both times we’ve run the same race we’ve run our own race and finished at different times. We’ve always had a goal to get under 4 hours, but a higher goal to finish, do our best and have fun.

I finally broke the 4 hour barrier with a 3:58 in Memphis in December 2009.  I had some injuries in 2010 but started training hard for the Little Rock Marathon March 6, 2011 and had my best race ever, finishing in 3:51.  Before the race I had decided that Ed and I would run Vienna together at his pace and this finishing time confirmed this decision.  I was 6 weeks out from Vienna and excited for that journey to begin.

The decision to run Vienna started back in December when I decided I needed a new car and looked into international delivery options from a few of the cars I was interested in.  We decided to buy a Volvo, fly to Sweden and pick it up, drive down to Berlin and pick up Ed and head to Vienna to run our 3rd marathon together – but this time, truly together every step of the way.  Vienna was Ed’s 15th and my 11th marathon.

One more thing, before I highlight the Vienna story, a friend of mine owns a running store named Go Running! and she asked me to take one of her shirts and get photos with it on as I traveled.  Sounded like a great idea and we set out to Go Running in Scandinavia and Europe with our final destination being the 2011 Vienna City Marathon.  We got many Go Running pics, starting with “Go Running with the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen”, “Go Running to pick up your Volvo”, “Go Running to drink beer with your brother you haven’t seen in 3 years” and “Go Running on top of Vienna, contemplating the race ahead”.

The day finally arrived and Madeleine, Lynn and I boarded our plane in Little Rock, Arkansas and headed to Chicago where we’d catch our plane to Sweden, stopping in Copenhagen the next day around noon and arriving in Gothenburg around 2.  Our first taste of international delivery was the driver in the Volvo limo who picked us up at the airport and took us to our hotel.  The next day we were picked up at taken to the Volvo plant where we were introduced to our new car, took a wonderful tour of the facility where it was made (mostly by robots) and headed out on roads where we couldn’t read the signs and where everything was measured in kilometers instead of miles.  We picked up a bite to eat and headed to the ferry where we’d load the car for an overnight trip to Kiel, Germany where we’d get out and travel the autobahn to Berlin.  Floating on the Baltic Sea, everything new, all of us excited for what was ahead, was a great way to start our journey.

Once in Berlin we have a great reunion with Ed, Gisela, Hanna and Karla, a short visit (2 nights) and then headed out for Vienna on Friday morning because as Billy Joel sang long ago (and Claudia reminded me before I left on the trip), “Vienna waits for you”.   It was a perfect travel day through Germany and into Austria, as this video shows, and after a stop in Regensburg to eat a Bratwurst at the oldest Sausage Kitchen in Germany, and also to see where Ed had run one of his Spring marathons, we made it to Austria and Vienna in time to check in to our hotel and to make it to the opening night of OsterKlang – Festival in the Theater an der Wein.  This was just the beginning to the classical music and beautiful architecture we were about to experience over the next few days in Vienna.

The evening was beautiful, and Madeleine even made it through it, which was quite an accomplishment for a 7 year old who had been traveling in a foreign country for a few days and was used to being in bed by 8.  Opera?  Really Dad?

It got better because the Hilton came through with an upgrade to an Executive Suite since we are Hilton Gold members and we had access to the 10th floor for evening talks and morning breakfasts.  We literally started and ended each day on the top of Vienna (as shown in the Go Running pics).  The people were so nice and made us feel like royalty.  The surreal experience continued.

Saturday was the day we mastered public transportation to get our race packets, take a tour of the Schönbrunn palace (which was worth the trip itself) and headed back to reflect on the day to come – up on the 10th floor overlooking Vienna and to the light of the moon of course.  The temperatures were perfect for the evening, as they would also be for the race tomorrow.

Eyes opened before the alarm went off because all systems were ready to go for the adventure ahead of us.  We had our race plan set.  One thing I’ve learned is to have a realistic race plan set before you start so you can spend the race focusing on executing the plan, rather than trying to decide what to do while you run.  Ed had not trained a lot during the Spring, given the winter conditions in Berlin, travel and family schedule and other things.  There wasn’t going to be a sub-4 hour marathon today and he set his goal at something around 4:30.  The biggest mistake is to go out too fast and we set our goal to run a 9:50 pace for 32 km (20 miles) and then pick it up to the end.

This made the first 25 km extremely enjoyable.  It was a slow pace for both of us but especially for me.  We talked and shared stories and took in the beautiful sites of Vienna.  The classical music was indescribable, you just had to be there to experience it.  In Vienna, every building has detailed architectural design on it.  The race experience at this pace was like a fun run in the park.  At Mile 14 we saw Lynn and Madeleine, I stopped to visit for a couple minutes and Ed ran on.  I caught up with him and we continued our fun run through Vienna.

Running in the 20-30k portion of the race you can see runners coming back that are past 35-6k and running strong and it was encouraging to see them as we would soon be running to the finish as well.  But as the race neared 32k our conversation got a little more measured and quiet.  I was preparing to help Ed do what he had never done before, run negative splits the last 10k of the race and feel strong coming into the finish line.  The responsibility was on my shoulders as I had chosen the race plan and told him if he would hang with me it would happen.  I had just had that experience in Little Rock where I ran an 8:50 pace for 20 miles and then with the help of a couple friends, passed runners for the last 6 miles finishing strong at a sub-8 minute pace.  He had the challenge before him and we were nearing what we had called the “starting line of the race” since we crossed the official starting line.

32k done.  10k to go.  The slow pace we had been running had tired me a bit and it was an effort to slowly pick it up.  I began to slowly pick it up so we could enter the next phase of the race and could see Ed beginning to struggle.  I kept the pace to let him use me as a pacer but his legs were beginning to call it a day.  The next 6 miles were painful.  As we slowed, I would run and then walk to let him catch up.  It was too painful to run his pace and yet the walking was a challenge as well.  By 40k we were at the “let’s just get this done” point.  Kudos to Ed, he never stopped running and brought it to the finish with a smile on his face.

We finished side by side, with our NF singlets on, which to me is the icing on the cake for our Vienna City Marathon experience.  I “run for a reason” as part of the NF Endurance team.  I run for my NF Hero, Mavia, and her family who face the challenges of NF every day.  This has added a new and meaningful dimension to my running over the past couple years.  It has brought countless new friends into our lives.  It has given me a new perspective of thankfulness for being able run and for the health of my family.  The goal of the NF endurance team is to raise money for research as well as to raise awareness.  Being able to finish the Vienna marathon with my brother and both wearing NF singlets – priceless.  To do it to classical music – unreal.

Take a minute to visit my fund raising page to read why I run for NF and Mavia, read the support of the people who helped raise $5,000 as part of my running the Little Rock and Vienna marathons this year and if you can, join my team with whatever you can give.  These races are over, but the race to find a cure for NF goes on.

And last but not least, Ed captured 25 pictures and 17 videos as we ran through the streets of Vienna together.  His commentary along with these images are on his blog.  There you can hear the classical music, the other marathon sounds and see the sights of Vienna as we did.  Typically I don’t like to run a marathon more than once as there are so many to run and so little time.  However, I think I could do Vienna again!

No race report would be complete without a mile by mile blow of calories burned and pace report as recorded by the Garmin.  Here is what Garmin has to say about the 2011 Vienna City Marathon.  And as we all know so well, the Garmin simply records the truth as you deliver it step by step.

4 comments for this entry:
  1. Erin Taylor

    I am so proud of you… and looks like you, Madeleine, Lynn and Ed had an incredible journey together. Love the blog and really love all the Go! Running photos. They depict the great joy you had and gave on your trip. And of all the terrific photos you sent, and thoughtful sentiments along the way, I think my favorite (besides the little mermaid… must admit) was “Go Running to drink beer with your brother you haven’t seen in 3 years”.

    I have never been to Germany, Sweden or Austria… yet. What an amazing trip. So glad you take the time to go on the adventures. Those are the things that makes life worthwhile.

    Glad to have you back on our soil and now you must drive on over and give a show and tell on your very cool new volvo.

    All the best to you, Pete.

  2. petetanguay

    Thanks Erin – it’s always fun to travel, but never as fun as coming home!

  3. Edward Tanguay

    That was a great review, Pete. It made me realize how much extra running around you did getting us drinks and catching back up, etc. And your description of my legs “calling it a day” was very accurate, at 32.8 K, my leg muscles punched their time cards and I was left running on my bones and knee caps. Thanks for slowing down the last 10K, it was great to finish together, a beautiful day and an awesome marathon! Well executed.

  4. petetanguay

    Exactly Ed – one of the best runs of my life and definitely a highlight to finish together. The whole vacation was surreal. Let’s do it again next Spring!

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