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: