I’d heard good things about the Berlin marathon; it’s a great city, the marathon route takes you past a lot of famous sights, and the course is flat so it is ‘fast’/’easy’.
Whilst visiting Hilla in Munich last year we got to talking about Berlin and how I should pay it a visit. The conclusion was that running the marathon and then cycling back would be a good thing to do.
Unlike the Paris marathon which I’d run a couple of years ago and the London marathon which are both in Spring, the Berlin marathon is at the end of Summer (this year it was on 27 September). This means that the training can happen in daylight and in warmth – great!
I kept a base level of running fitness since the beginning of the year by going for a run about once each week. Typically this was either an evening run near home, or a jog to work. I usually cycle to work, but jogging to work is handy sometimes, for example if I am going out in London after work and don’t want to cycle home.
One major obstacle was an ankle operation I had on 9 June to remove some of the metal work from a previous break. After the op I had two weeks complete rest followed by a month of no running. This meant I had to do all my proper marathon training in just 11 weeks (most training plans are 16 or 17 weeks). I found a 12 week plan on Strava and used that. I highly recommend Strava training plans for keeping you motivated and focused on a goal. The Strava plan fitted nicely with my aim. I had over-trained for the Paris marathon. I do a decent amount of cycling so wanted to do just three training runs each week, rather than the 4 or 5 prescribed by some plans. I did not stick religiously to the plan, but held fairly close and allowing myself deviations where sensible (e.g. illness, injury or other events).
My training went as follows:
|Tue 7 July||5.5 km|
|Thu 9 July||16.5 km (inc. JP Morgan Chase Challenge)|
|Sun 12 July||13.5 km|
|Tue 14 July||6.8 km|
|Thu 16 July||10 km|
|Sun 19 July||17.8 km|
|Tue 21 July||8.8 km|
|Thu 23 July||10 km|
|Sun 26 July||13.7 km|
|Tue 28 July||6.9 km|
|Thu 30 July||9.2 km|
|Tue 4 August||9.8 km|
|Thu 6 August||10 km|
|Sun 9 August||22.5 km|
|Tue 11 August||12 km|
|Fri 14 August||9 km (injured neck)|
|Sun 23 August||9.7 km|
|Thu 27 August||11.7 km|
|Sun 30 August||22.2 km|
|Thu 3 Sep||10 km|
|Sun 6 Sep||34.3 km|
|Tue 8 Sep||9.2 km|
|Sun 13 Sep||17.7 km|
|Tue 15 Sep||9 km|
|Thu 17 Sep||9.3 km|
|Sun 20 Sep||13.3 km|
|Wed 23 Sep||8 km|
|Fri 25 Sep||1.3 km|
|Sun 27 Sep||46.4 km (Berlin marathon)|
Throughout the training I thought I would take it easy on the day, just enjoy it and get around in 5 hours or so. I knew the training had been a little on the light-side. On the day of the marathon the sun was shining and I was feeling ready and with no excuses, so when I saw a pacemaker with a 4hr 30 balloon I decided I would follow him.
The marathon was really well organised. There was not too much waiting around at the start, the roads were wide, so whilst they were busy, they were not too tightly packed. There were plenty of water stops on the route where I could top up my bike water bottle that I carried with me, and there was lots of music on the way.
I used my own gels which I kept in an expandable waist pouch purchased the day before at the running expo. Another waist pouch held my phone which was recording my effort using the Strava app. I also had my Garmin watch which I used as a back-up record of my progress, and it usefully displays my running time, pace and distance at a glance.
The first half-marathon was a breeze. I saw a toilet with a shortish queue and decided to take a quick break. I lost the 4hr 30 pacemaker at this point. The rest of the marathon got progressively more difficult, and the last couple of miles were really quite painful. I kept plodding along with the thought that if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to get going again.
The finish line brought a big sense of achievement and relief. I stumbled painfully back to the bag and meeting area, making my way through a couple of very welcome alcohol-free pints of lager as I did so.
After resting for an hour or so walking was super-painful! Our airbnb flat was a couple of miles away. The solution? Brompton and Jenny to the rescue.. I was able to cycle her bike back to the flat no problem (although the seat post was a little low..)