Wahoo! I’m so happy to say I've ticked Berlin Marathon off the list and it was, overall, a big success! Despite the fact it was soggy AF and pretty much torrential rain for the whole 42km (think: puddles in your shoes from the get go), I'm super stoked to have somehow knocked 18 minutes off my previous time, scored a big new PB, and most importantly, actually kind of enjoyed the whole slog too! FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING!
Berlin Marathon was my fourth marathon and was a biggy for me, not just because it’s one of the six World Majors so is, literally, a huge international race, but because I really wanted it to go better than Copenhagen did back in May, which was a super tough race to push through. Puking in a marathon ain't fun! There’s also all the hype around Berlin being one of the flattest and fastest marathons in the world, which does make it exciting, but also adds an additional kind of pressure. I'm totally not a time-chaser, but there's this kind of general optimism around Berlin that you can't help but get caught up in.
Saying all that, I went into it feeling totally undertrained. Ed and I both signed on to Berlin pretty last minute (thanks to our very kind pals at adidas) and barely left ourselves any time to train. Looking back, the whole of September was just crazy. Work was mad with opening the hotel and I felt like I was working pretty much every hour, getting super stressed and not really sleeping that well. I didn’t do any of the yoga or muscle conditioning I've consciously tried to include in the final stages of previous marathon prep. I can't say I really ate that well. And was out most nights hosting dinners and drinking wine like a fish! Add to that in the middle of the month, I cycled to bloody Paris! 4 days on a bike, which meant no running and instead, tightening up my calves like crazy. Good strength training but probably not best of timings! Running wise, I was doing little (3-9km) distances a couple of times a week consistently in the few months prior, but only managed two long distance runs (16km and 25km) in the immediate run up to Berlin.
In short: my prep was the opposite of a strategic, thought-out training plan. Then I broke all the rules and did my longest run — 25km— the Monday before the race! Needless to say, I went to Berlin thinking, 'this ain't gonna go so well'.
Somehow though it did! And I can’t really pinpoint how this race was different or even what I did differently, apart from consciously trying to be generally more relaxed about the whole thing from the start, and slowly, slowly just plod along. I consciously took it slow and steady from the start and unlike previous races, didn’t get caught up with following pacers or ever thinking ‘shit, maybe I need to be going faster/slower now’. As a result, the kilometres seemed to pass by more smoothly than in previous races. I listened to music the whole way, chewed Cliff Power Bloks pretty consistently, and took on water at every stop. I felt pretty strong ‘til about 24km then my hamstring really started giving me jip and it all felt a little tougher from there. The last nine kilometres were TOUGH, I felt every step and the beating rain didn't help. 5km to go I stopped and half-wept to myself — at that point, you’re just SO READY TO NOT BE RUNNING, but somehow manage to push on to the end. When you see the Brandenburg Gate, you can't help but grin and give it your all to run through it strong and over the line.
I finished Berlin with 4hr27. I couldn’t be happier, prouder and more relieved it’s over! It's an incredible race, super flat, brilliantly organised, and totally lives up to the hype. I'm definitely taking it a bit easier for the next few months but of course, already thinking about what races spring might bring...
[BIG thank you to adidas Runners for the support and the spaces to run such an incredible, bucket-list race!]