Finally, after several months of training and various evenings of frivolity resisted, the Berlin Marathon had come around. I still find it astounding how those last couple of weeks fly by, compared to how slowly the weeks drag when you are in the throws of intense training!
I flew out to Berlin the day before the marathon on the Saturday and landed in good time to get to the Expo to pick up my race number and chip timing device. With this being only my second ever marathon and my first race overseas, I was conscious how much the ‘travelling’ element could have a detrimental effect on my body. Therefore, as disappointing as this was, I decided to only spend minimal time walking around the Expo (I could have spent all afternoon there) and indeed the city of Berlin itself. Instead, I collected my race number and headed to the hotel for some rest and relaxation. Later, I did a dummy run to the start of the marathon so I wasn’t panicked or rushed the next morning.
I actually slept pretty well considering and woke with my alarm at 6:00am on Sunday morning. I had my breakfast and took the tube to the start of the marathon near the Brandenburg Gate. The pre-marathon arrangements were particularly well organised for a race accommodating some 42,000 entrants and I took my place in my starting pen with 10 minutes to spare. The sheer volume of people at the start was staggering.
Once the starter had sounded I put my race head on and set about my plan. The plan was to break the race down into three segments of the first 10K, the middle 20K and the fins 12K. Nice and easy through the first 10K, very solid through the middle 20K and then throw the kitchen sink at it through the final 12K! After the first 2K-3K, I started to settle down and found my rhythm, not being too worried about being a little bit slower than my target race pace (which was 7min 15sec per mile) at times. I went through 10K in 45min 30sec, which was maybe 30 seconds slower than planned but, I still wasn’t worried as I was now starting to feel really good and relaxed.
This was now the phase of the race where I was going to aim to be as consistent as possible and focus on target pace. The support around Berlin was absolutely fantastic so this was a huge help during the next 20K, although I had started to notice how warm it was getting. I went through 20K at 1hr 29min and 45sec (15 seconds ahead of target) and through 30K at 2hr 14min 32sec (28 seconds ahead of target). Anyone who has run a marathon before though will know that the final 10K is where your race strategy can either pay off or completely unravel. I have to say, there was an element of ‘unravelling’ during this phase for me, as the heat started to take its toll and my calves started to seize up. There was a very difficult part of the race between 37K and 40K where my legs appeared to stop working! I stopped to massage my legs back into life and eventually crossed the line in 3hr 12min and 51sec.
An absolutely fantastic event and the weather was glorious for the post race celebrations, they even give you a free pint of non-alcoholic beer as you cross the finish line! A huge thank you to everyone for their support, particularly my poor family! A PB for me by 16 minutes and nearly £1,000 raised for my chosen charity, ‘Get Kids Going’.