28 September 2014 | Berlin, Germany | Marathon
There are 6 Major Marathons in the world. This year we got to run our very first!
There is only one word that can be used to describe the Berlin Marathon… AWESOME!!!! Germans take everything serious and the Berlin Marathon highlights German engineering and their unwavering attention to detail. Whether it’s the preciseness of the race registration our the thoroughness of the organizers to think of every possible factor in preparation. People may talk about the tradition and history of Boston but Berlin screams history and I can think of no better city or people that you would want to share the experience of a Marathon with.
If you consider it you need to start planning prior to the registration. Do you have the time and resources to commit to it if you get the lottery? For Jacky and I we both registered but I was the one who was selected through the lottery process. When we knew I was in the next question was are we going to be able to get Jackie in by an alternate means? The answer was yes. We quickly searched for a package through a travel agency and found one fairly quickly. The only thing we needed to do was upgrade the room to a suite and buy plane tickets. Getting the tickets a year out saved money. So with that out of the way we could focus on our training and plans to get ready for the Berlin Marathon.
Fortunately for us Jacky is from Germany and we had a support system already built in. Her Mom and Dad coordinated their vacation time to go with us. We actually were able to register for additional races that became part of a overall training plan. We spent 3 weekends in Europe and managed to do a race every weekend. We had a run scheduled where here family lived in the town of Gladenbach conducted by the local sports club. The second weekend we did the Marathon in Berlin. The third weekend we visited her family’s little hometown near Opole in Poland. Where we went after Berlin Marathon for a week and participated in the Silesia Half Marathon about 100km east from us in the city of Katowice. That half Marathon we used as a training run before our second marathon the Chuncheon Marathon in Chuncheon, South Korea.
Now there was a lot of training and recovery time from injuries in between when we registered for the Berlin Marathon and the actual race. Overall we stuck very close to our training plan and avoided major injuries. I did have fairly significant injury to a tendon in my right foot that took some time to recover from but I still had six months prior to the race to heal from it. By the time the race came up I was about 97% which was good enough. We had done a variety of events prior to our Marathon such as sprint triathlons, aquathlon, 10Ks, Half distance and 5ks but all this events were planned in conjunction with our overall training.
Now for the Main Event. The 2014 Berlin Marathon was pure spectacle. The morning of the race we a had a quick breakfast of fruit, coffee and some water. It was a 3km walk from our Holiday Inn Hotel to the start point just past the Brandenburg Gate which served as a nice warm-up. It didn’t feel like 40,000 people were at the start point with us but there was. We have pictures to prove it. Media was everywhere as well as helicopters buzzing over head. The weather was cool but clear and the sun was coming out. It had all the makings of a perfect marathon day. Before you knew it the countdown for the elite runners had started just before the clock struck 9 AM. A loud roar from the crowd as the start gun sounded and balloons lifted into the sky to officially announce the start of the race!
The next thing that stood out to me was the flying yellow plastic bags given to the racers to stay warm being launched in all directions like Salmon trying to swim up stream being launched as the age group runners prepared for their start. Before you knew it we were off! Jacky and I had decided that our strategy would be to stay close to the official course markers which consisted of three long blue lines on the street that served as a good tangent. I focused on it for the whole race and to be honest it really helped me. The next thing that struck us was just the beauty of the route. Running by all the historic structures throughout the city. The course was almost 100% flat except a small rise in the road near the Bundestag. You could easily miss the elevation change if you weren’t paying attention but because we looked for the 3 blue lines it was easy for us to notice.
After the first 11km we ran by the hotel we were staying at and meet Jacky’s Mom and Dad for a quick selfie and then we were own our way to knockout the remaining 31km. We maintained an excellent pace even with hitting all the water and nutrition stops. We stayed at 5:30 pace up until we got to 25km. At that point I started to deal with my arch-nemesis leg craps. I told Jacky to keep going because I was going to slow her down and she was looking to have a good PR. She ended up having an awesome PR of 4:09. I managed a PR as well of 4:40. The sad part for me is I was on course to be under 4:15 until I got to 35km and my leg craps forced me to walk. Still I made it and had a strong finish with lots of great photos. Jacky had an awesome time but she was a little upset because I had more (and better pics) Sometimes being slower pays off.
Regardless of the running, pain and craps the race was a special event for Jacky and I thanks to all the crowds of supporting Berliners. There was music and plenty of excitement and energy from people lining the streets. I have no doubt that Jacky and I will do Berlin again!
This was a year of planing to get to this race.