the berlin marathon

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Of course, insomnia struck the night before a big race, and I only got four hours of sleep. And then I couldn't figure out how to work the induction stove in the morning and burned the gluten-free toast I had packed specifically for my pre-race meal. And then the starting area was so chaotic (and seriously: why is everyone here so damn tall?) that I barely made it on time for my wave. And then I lost a gel. And then I saw some lady puke at Mile Seven (mmm, my favorite!), almost stepped on a pile of human poo while trying to pee in the bushes, got snot rocketed on by a stranger (again, it sucks to be small here because no one sees you) and came very close to running smack into a flying wad of phlegm. Also, I now have puffy, painful blisters on both feet and will likely lose more toenails, and my knees have decided that bending is overrated.

In other words, the Berlin Marathon is the best marathon I have ever run. Ever. True story.

Yes, there weren't enough port-a-potties and the start was a cluster and people literally pissed and shit all over the city and somehow all of Denmark turned out to either run the race or spectate so I got a little confused about what country I was in and was more than a bit jealous because my country didn't turn out en masse to support me (fail, 'Merica, total fail), but man, that race was awesome.

It was the first marathon I ran with a strategy that I was physically and mentally able to execute. I started slow and easy in the 10:15 range, just as I had worked on in training, and picked it up as the miles ticked off. And I somehow managed to kick at the end -- a nice, big, effortless kick that started at Mile 18 and didn't stop. (Dear 2000-meter track repeats: Thank you. I get it now and will forever stop complaining about your pain.) Never in my life have I been able to pick people off at the end of a marathon until today. (By the way, those Danes in their bright red shirts made good targets. And it brought me great joy to pass men twice my height.)

Other small victories: My fueling and nutrition were spot on (Hammer Gel, I love you), and since I brought my own bottle and had been practicing opening and taking gels while keeping a steady running pace, I cruised through the aid stations without stopping (a good thing since they were huge clusters of flying plastic cups and craziness and they made me stressed out). Also, the course was ridiculously flat, and the weather was absolutely perfect -- cool and crisp. After training on Seattle's hills in high humidity, Berlin felt almost easy.

And I loved the Adidas cheering zone at Mile 18 -- talk about pure energy that literally brought tears to my eyes. I loved the Berlin residents who set up DJ booths on balconies and in windows to blast techno for the runners. I loved the architecture and the spectators who rang actual full-size cow bells and the random runner dressed as a bear wearing lederhosen and the streets lined with trees just starting to turn colors. I loved running through the Brandenburg Gate to the finish. And I loved how no one cared about nudity, so in the post-race area, people just stripped down and changed on the lawn, boobs out, no biggie.

I ended up with a 4:33:47 finish, for a big, fat 9-minute PR that I totally wasn't expecting (but secretly really wanted, very, very badly, in a sacrifice-my-toenails-pee-in-the-bushes way).



(Blame the blurriness on the fact that I ran with my phone, so it was covered in sweat and salt for this photo. But I think you get the gist of things.)

And of course, since I'm here in Germany after all (Danes, try as you might, I will not be fooled!), this was my post-race meal:


Mmm. Sausage.

4 comments:

Angela said...

Congrats on the HUGE PR!! Sounds like it was also a fantastic experience. Clearly I must run an international race soon. :)

Layla said...

This was a fantastic race summary! Well, of course I want to hear EVEN MORE, but that's me.

What's this about a finishing kick that started at mile 18?! Umm, don't you know that's usually around when the time everyone dies? If they don't hit the wall there, they do it at mile 20. Or mile 22. Or, you know, somewhere in the last EIGHT MILES of a marathon. That's remarkable!! Well done. Very well done.

Michaela said...

Thanks, Angela! I had so much fun -- first time I can honestly say that about a marathon. I'd definitely recommend Berlin if you're looking for a race abroad!

Michaela said...

Thanks, Layla! I just told myself "post-workout sausage," and magical things happened. ;)

 
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