BMW BERLIN-MARATHON – my second World Marathons Major and my 11th marathon overall. I was extremely excited to go to Berlin and take part even though I had a feeling I might not have had the best preparation.
I woke up early on Thursday to fly to Berlin where I met with a couple of my friends from Düsseldorf. We used to go running in London with Nicole and I met Kai when I came to run Düsseldorf marathon half a year ago. Along with Nicole, her friends, Kai and his family we booked a flat in south east Berlin. On Friday I went to pick up my parents from Berlin Schönefeld Airport. I’m always extremely grateful for their support and I was very happy to see them come to watch me run in Berlin. After dropping their things at the hotel we went to the marathon expo. I picked my bib number, bought a marathon t-shirt and an official Erdigner Alcofree beer glass, found out about other marathons and took loads of pictures.
The Sunday morning could not come too soon. We woke up early to get ready in whatever ways we were used to. For me, as usual, I had a couple of boiled eggs and good cup of coffee (I had to satisfy with an instant coffee this time). We took the tram to the start area very close to the Reichstag and the Branderburgh gate. It was a massive ‘campus’ for around 43 000 runners. After a visit to the porter-loo we went to drop our bags and then it was time to get to the starting line.
Kai and I were starting from the same block and entered the starting zone together. However that was the only part we were together as he started with a 3:45 pacemaker and I went to the back of the crowd. The first part of the course went through the east part of Berlin. It was like going back in history: seeing unfinished constructions, abandoned flats and a Moscow hotel. Or what was left of it.
I was on a steady slow pace and was able to complete the first half of the marathon within 2 hours. Not my best time – but something I was satisfied of. The course was flat and with enough water stations to stay hydrated on a sunny and worm day. While there were many stations, getting water was not that easy as big crowds would try to get past the station without stopping at the same time.
After seeing my parents at around 21st kilometre I ran into West Berlin – area that was much greener, with nicer building and better roads. However the 25th kilometre was where I felt like “hitting the wall“. I tried to keep on running, but i simply could not – so I started walking. By then my walk was probably faster than my run. What I was mostly afraid of was the once started walking I will not be get back to running again. I just kept pacing myself with a steady walk and head high as all I wanted was to finish. Back in the day I would have dropped out and would have not thought of completing the race. Not now. I also felt that I had more chances of finishing the race walking and running than running alone. To complicate things even more, the day got hotter and there were several marathoner being treated by doctors or even carried out on stretcher.
As I completed one kilometre after another I could not wait to reach 39th kilometre where my parents were waiting. Before meeting my parents at 35th kilometre I ran/walked into a friend from university – Lisa. Lisa and I went to Jacobs University together and it was very pleasant surprise. After getting a hug from Lisa it was not long I saw my parents.
From there – 4,195 kilometres – were long but not impossible. In the end I crossed the finish line a vey poor time – 05:01:29. Regardless – I was very happy to finish and have my 11th marathon medal around my neck.