Wow! Just wow. I’m back home after a truly epic weekend in Berlin, full of awesome times with my running friends, slightly too much food, and culminating in the event I’ve been looking forward to for months, the Berlin Marathon!
This was to be my second marathon, coming five months after London in April. I’m still VERY new to distance running, so this whole year has been a huge learning curve for me, going from a casual once-a-week parkrunner to dramatically increasing my weekly mileage and distances. London was all about getting to the finish line, which I did in 5hr25min, broken and exhausted, having had to walk a fair bit in the last few miles.
My Berlin training had been going really well, and I could definitely feel that I was building on the fitness gains and hard work of the first part of the year. I began to secretly dream of going under 5hrs, even though that would mean taking 30 minutes off my PB, perhaps too much to ask for?
Marathon day came around, fresh and drizzly, and I set off at a comfortable pace, trying to hit each 5km mark in around 33 minutes. The first 10km flew past without incident, but then the heavens opened, and the real battle began! For me, running for 5 hours with out stopping is every bit as much a mental challenge as a physical one. What works for me is to find ways to distract myself, to zone out and almost forget that I am running, to make the time pass by easier. I had put all my friends on my marathon tracking app, and every 5km I would allow myself to check on their progress, delighted to see how well they were all doing. Berlin is a beautiful city, and the marathon route was a wonderful scenic sightseeing tour, although I could really have done with an audio guide to explain everything I was seeing! The halfway point went by, then 30 and 35km, and I couldn’t quite believe how comfortable I was feeling! I had expected to start really slipping back off the pace by this point, but spurred on by the crowds and the excitement of the day (and of course the culmination of months of hard training and a sensible pacing strategy!), I ploughed on without slowing, my legs seemingly turning over by themselves until suddenly, the Brandenburg Gate was in sight! I crossed the line in 4h 46min, a huge 40 minute improvement on my PB, and the absolute best time I could have hoped for!
Looking back on this year, I find it hard to believe just how far I’ve come. I’ve gone from someone who took walking breaks up every hill at parkrun to a sub-25 minute 5k runner. I never could have expected that this self-confessed exercise avoider would be standing here today, holding two world marathon major medals!
I want to say a huge thankyou to everyone who donated to my fundraising, helping me raise over £1200 for Spinal Research. They are of course a hugely worthwhile cause, but more than that, have been a wonderful charity to run for, providing huge amounts of support for all their runners, and making us feel part of one big #teamspinal family!
So that’s it, my marathon running is over for the year, time to rest, recover, and start planning my next challenge. Watch this space! Drop me a line if you ran Berlin, I’d love to hear how it went and what you are planning next!