Monday 30 September 2013

My Berlin Marathon Race report

Support crew; pre-race
Pre-race family shot

As anyone who has known me for longer than, say, 3 seconds, you will know that it's long been a dream of mine to run a marathon under 3 hours. It's one of those things that while I believed possible, I wasn't sure I could ever achieve.

However yesterday in Berlin, I did it;


Staying positive; pre-race
I wish I could say that it was a sprint to the finish, that I remembered to take off my sunnies for the photo and that I held my arms in a victory salute. 

However, it was not like that. To be totally honest, by the end all I wanted to do was finish. I vomited about 700 metres from the finish line, and then could barely move in a straight line. By this stage, I did not care in the slightest about my time.

I was caught by a medical guy over the finishing line. After which, when he let go, I sat down in the gutter, until another medical person asked me if I was able to walk. 

It's an experience I've never had before - when you finish in around 3 hours, the other finishers around you look absolutely destroyed. When you come in around 4hours (which I have done on more than one occasion) people look jubilant. They give high fives and hug and cry with happiness. At 3 hours, it's all about lying on the ground, looking miserable, trying not to spew. 

Still, I did it, and now that the dust has settled, while I obviously would have liked to go faster, I'm really happy. (Perhaps I was a bit too optimistic when I did a 3 min pb for the first 21km! On my watch I did 84.44 - perhaps a little quick!) 

My highlights:
  • The start was great - I'm usually really stressed about getting a good start, but because it was organised in corals (I was in the 2.40-2.50 starting block - next time I'll go for the 2.50-3.00), there was plenty of space and so I could concentrate on running, rather than dodging, right from the start.
  • Lots of cool bands on the course, and great crowd support.
  • Seeing Lachlan and Henry on the course.
  • I would like to say running through the amazing city of Berlin, but to be honest, I wasn't paying much attention and could not really tell you where I was.
  • Henry laying on top of me to keep me warm at the end, and later the kisses he gave me because I told him I was feeling sick.
  • Finding a rickshaw driver to take us from the "family meeting zone" back to the front door of the hotel (I was not walking anywhere after the race - I was thinking I was otherwise going to kick Henry out of the stroller.)
  • I came 47th overall (that's on the second page of results!), and 7th in my age group (30-35). And I think I was the first Australian woman to cross the line (to be fair, Berlin is a pretty long way from Australia - I don't imagine there were too many Aussies in it!)
  • The enthusiasm and excitement of the 40 000 participants. It's so inspiring to see so many people who've dedicated so much time and energy pursuing a dream. Finishing a marathon - whether it's your first or 50th, is not easy. In particular, one guy I saw who was starting, had obviously been seriously overweight in the past and lost a good 100kg or more. Though he was still a big guy, he was doing Berlin Marathon. What an amazing achievement! Totally inspiring to see people like this!
  • All the messages I got from friends and family post-race. I was really touched; it makes it all worth it. Thanks so much!

My lowlights:
  • Vomiting several times - I think I need to change my gels.
  • The cold; it was about 6 degrees I think - after Hong Kong, this felt freezing and my legs felt more and more cold as the race went on.
  • Waiting for around 35 minutes for the port-a-loo pre-race. Everyone in that line was getting mighty stressed. Next time I will know, there are loads of bushes right near where I started!
  • Getting overtaken by a dude in a mini-mouse costume at around 36km (Japanese, obviously.) He looked to be suffering, but still, getting overtaken by someone wearing mouse ears and a red, polka-dot dress, did nothing for my mental state!
  • German Dudes getting totally naked, out in the open, post-race - when there were change tents only 20metres away! I'd suffered enough by that stage without coping an eyeful. 
  • The battle in my head that started, I'd say at around 2km - any suggestions how to deal with this running friends? The voices in my head are my biggest problem! How do I switch them off?
Post-race; Henry warming me up

Of course, the race was not all about me, anyone who has googled Berlin Marathon in the past 24 hours will see that a new world record was set by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang. How awesome!!!
It was definitely the day for the Kenyans with the top 3 men, and top 2 women, all from Kenya. Pretty great! A 41 year old German came 3rd in the women.

In the lead; Wilson Kipsang

So now I'm all recovered.... it's time to plan my next race! 

Post-race dinner; entree
Post-race meal: main
Post-race beer
Post-race: support crew is still smiling!

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