Sunday, 7 October 2012

Berlin Marathon - Race Report

The Berlin Marathon. This was it. My own stupid bet made with myself was back to bite me on the arse big style! Luckily eatingtrees was kind (stupid) enough to come along and put himself through the joy (pain) of 42.195km as well. For fun.

At least we picked a good'un. Berlin. One of the big 5. In one of my favourite cities and it's flat to boot. It'll be fine right? Well it should be. I followed an exact training schedule. When I say exact I didn't bother with the sprints after week 7 of 16. I didn't enjoy them. In fact I didn't bother with the mid week medium runs after about week 4. I didn't enjoy them either and I'm lazy. So in essence, my training was based on the tried and tested (well it is now) of one long run a week on a Saturday morning and a bit of cycling during the week. The training was quite frankly, monotonous, tedious and dull and this was one of the only ways I could get through it and that's the main reason I won't be attempting another one in the near future.

But to the weekend. A trip to Berlin with the family and eatingtrees with an apartment booked and the whole thing still not feeling very real. That was a good thing really. Even getting to the expo and collecting my race number and chip etc didn't get me. I mean I knew it was happening but I wasn't nervous and don't think the concept of running a maraton had quite sunk in yet! Until I put The Boy to bed on Saturday night and that was it. I could hardly eat, I kept running through everything in my head and realising that THIS WAS REAL NOW!!!


I did manage to sleep quite well though (without the aid of wine I might add) and when the alarm went off at 6am, my only thoughts were... it's time. By that evening, I would have either a Marathon PB or a DNF. As this was my first, there was no other option and to be honest, major injury was the only way there would be a DNF. The start/finish/baggage/toilet area is all around the Tiergarten so we headed there, dropped the bags off, and due to the differences in our numbers, lost each other for the first time before a race. Not really a problem as we run different paces anyway but would have been nice.

I knew the pace I had to stick to and with the aims of 'Under 4:30, I'll be happy' and 'Under 4:15 I'll be delighted', I set off enjoying the crowds, the bands and the steady pace. Mrs HMC and The Boy were waiting for me at the 11km (7m) mark and it was good to see them but as expected, all was good and I was having fun.

 I was OK for the next hour and a half but at around 28km (17m) I started feeling a bit of pain in the ball of my left foot. Nothing completely unusual but I'd generally only felt this after my long runs, not during. Essentially, it's just a bit of bruising caused by the impact of a 14 stone bloke thudding against a pavement for long periods (you should have seen the roads, they came off worse).

At around 34km, the pain was steadily getting worse and the ibuprofen came out and did absolutely nothing to help. It was painful but I did the best I could to not change my running too much knowing that that can generally cause an injury elsewhere. I have to admit, I wasn't loving this bit. But, the thing that kept me going was that you hear so many stories of THE WALL at 20 miles and while I wasn't bounding like a gazelle, I certainly wasn't dead on my feet and while I was OK, I just carried on.

At 37km,  a friend who was out there supporting another runner SCREAMED my name at the top of her lungs. This lifted me no end and a blown kiss and a thank you and I was on my way again. 4:15 was still achievable if I just didn't crash and burn. 

At 40km, I knew Mrs HMC was going to be waiting somewhere around there so I just kept an eye out and eventually saw her and stopped for a kiss to let her know I was OK. I couldn't actually speak to tell her I was OK but did have to stop her wanting to run along with me. She was 29 weeks pregnant after all! She did take a short cut though which meant I saw her again 3/4 minutes later and before I made my final turn towards the Brandenburg Gate.

At this point I just put my head down, concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and not bursting into tears. Through the gate an into the final 200m stretch completed with a sprint. OK, more a slightly faster amble than the last 8km had been done in but it felt like a sprint. The watch stopped and a big smile crossed my face as I looked at the watch. I'd done it. The stats can be found here for anyone interested.

Completely surrounded by other finishers and all the marshalls and quite frankly, I felt alone. It was strange but that was it. I was delighted but completely drained and I just wanted to get some food and drink inside me. The one thing I have to recommend to everyone out there was something that proved vital. Around 6 weeks before the day I looked up what energy drink they would have on the day and then trained with nothing else. By the time I finished the marathon, I had consumed 5 bottles of the stuff and it proved vital to me.

I finally met up with Mrs HMC and The Boy and we waited for eatingtrees who was making his way round. While we were waiting, I received a congratulatory call from my Mum and Dad but who unfortunately had some bad news. My Grandad who had turned 100 only 3 weeks before had passed away the evening before. This added to my emotions of the run and meant the tears well and truly flowed for a minute or 2 but a glass was raised that night in his honour. To Grandad. This one's for you. Cheers.



  1. Congratulations on a great race. I just saw that you know Grant from his blog. Love the wee card cutout time thing, I've got mine up too. Did Berlin as well, my 2nd marathon. Will you be back for another do you think? My own wee race report over at btw. Cheers.

  2. Congratulations! Fantastic time too.

  3. Congratulations! Great time too.