Where do I begin?
I AM OFFICIALLY A MARATHON RUNNER! And to say I’m proud is an understatement. When I first took up running a year ago, I set myself the challenge of running the Berlin Marathon. I knew I would manage it but I had never realised how much I would enjoy it.
As with every race I run, the day started by getting up far earlier than I needed to and having breakfast. My hotel the base for most of the international marathon tour companies, so the 6am relaxing breakfast I had hoped for was actually a bum-fight for a seat and time spent protecting my table! Quick scrambled egg and bread roll later and it was back to the room. I had already laid out my running gear. Partly because it’s good to not be rushing in the morning and partly because I love a flatlay photo.
At 7:45, I joined the group of French marathon travellers staying in my hotel and headed for the start line. Arriving at the event village was great. There was a real buzz of excitement as people dropped bags and did some warming up. By 8:30, after a couple of toilet breaks, I made it to the start area. This was nearly 2 hours before I was due to cross the start line. It didn’t matter, the atmosphere was fantastic. I was in wave H, which was designated for first time marathoners and people who were likely to take more than 4:15.
WAVE H – Newbies
I had planned to meet Heather there but as she hadn’t taken her phone in it was difficult to find her. Some nervous waiting and scanning of the crowds followed. Finally, she found me.
We decided on a race strategy, nothing like leaving it to the last minute and got ready to run.
The buzz walking to the start line is amazing. Thousands of people nervously moving forward, hundreds nipping off for a last minute comfort break. What struck me about the start of the Berlin Marathon is, unlike London, there aren’t many people in fancy dress. In fact, there weren’t many people who didn’t look like seasoned marathon runners.
0km to 21km (First Half)
The first half went a dream. We had planned to run at 7:00 min/km and we were bang on the money. 10km in pretty much 65 minutes and everything felt good. We were soaking up the atmosphere and having a good laugh.
It was busy and by about 10km it had started to tip down. We were getting drenched but the rain wasn’t dampening our mood at all.
21km to 42km
By the time we hit half way we were soaked. Still loving our run and not really bothered by the squelching feet.
Then 28km hit. My legs suddenly felt sore. Mainly my hip flexors but in reality it was most of my legs. We decided to have a couple of walk breaks and walked through the water stations. Heather was feeling it too so we both encouraged the other to run. We set targets of when we were going to start running again for how long. This worked really well and I think without Heathers encouragement I would have really struggled to get going again.
Between 30 and 36km we were thankful for our friends and family coming to watch. Them cheering us on kept us going. By 41km when Alex text to say she was waiting I was exhausted. I couldn’t even muster the energy to pretend I was running. I mean, who was I kidding, I was going to tell her I had to do some walking anyway.
The final KM was great. As you turn the corner you see the streets lined with well wishers and you can’t help but get a boost of energy. People shouting your name, it turns out Jack is far easier for German’s to say than Heather, and you push yourself to the end.
A few 100 meters more and we were passing through the Brandenburger Tor, which if I’d been told once, I’d been told 100 times, is not the finish line. Final push to greatness awaited.
We made it! The instant feeling of jubilation fills your body. In part because you have just run a marathon, in part because you know you don’t have to run any further.
What an amazing experience and a huge thank you to Heather who helped me massively through the whole thing. Could I have done it without her? Yes. Would it have been so much fun? Hell no!
Watch this space for a guide on what not to do in the lead up to your first marathon!
Official Time: 5:37:05