Berliner Halbmarathon, Sunday 29 March 2015.
In 2008 when John had progressed to half marathon distance, we went to Berlin for him to take part in the Half Marathon. I remember the excitement of the event - it was about 20000 runners that year - a lot for a Half! There were crowds out supporting along the route and the start and finish area was great with stalls selling bier, bratwurst, brezels etc. He thoroughly enjoyed this race and I remember the excitement and emotion of watching him power down the finishing strait. I said then that I'd like to come back and run this myself one day. In 2011 we planned to go back and both entered, but I was ill with 3 chest infections at the start of this year so we didn't make it... Last Autumn, the race opened and we decided to try again, both getting places in what is now a Huge Half! 35000 places!
This was before I knew I'd got a place in the West Highland Way race. As a result, my training has been focused on the WHW race, not on racing (?) Half Marathon or even Marathon distance. My taper consisted of a 34.7 mile race on the WHW, a 4 miler midweek, and 3 hard circuit sessions, not the most conventional :) We arrived Saturday evening to our first 'mishap' arrived at our hotel to be told that they'd had a problem with their booking system and had overbooked so we didn't have a room. Before I had a chance to draw breathe to complain, the charming receptionist told us he had already booked us a room in a sister hotel and they would pay for a taxi to take us there. True to his word, the taxi arrived and took us across the city to our new abode, ironically a lot closer to the race start than the one we'd chosen. We spent the next three nights in the Park Plaza Wall Street and it was very nice. Being closer to the start meant we'd time for breakfast before we left, bonus! There were a few other runners and an Italian gentleman met John at the buffet and asked if he was ready :)
It was raining as we jogged the mile to the start, got heavier as we picked up our numbers, however there was plenty of shelter and the rain went off after about half an hour. Like a big city marathon, there were baggage trucks, and an abundance of porta loos. Half an hour to go, we dropped off the bags with our clothes for after, said our cheerios and went to our start corrals. Second 'mishap' there was a problem with the chip timing system which meant the start was delayed. John was 10mins late but I had to wait 40mins until I started and my left leg started seizing up and getting quite crampy and sore :-( Eventually and after a quick exit from the corral to the porta loo, a fast jog up the pavement and hop back into the start corrals and it was time to go.
Off we went out to Charlottenburg and back, I enjoyed the route as I'm familiar with the city landmarks and having done the Marathon the second half of the route was well known. We'd a bit of a headwind on the way out and a couple of large puddles to contend with if following the race line - yes there was a racing line in a Half!! On the way back it was cool to see the green lines for the race alongside the blue ones from last year's Marathon. There were crowds most of the way and at least 7 bands to keep us going. I am used to being in a fair bit of open space as I'm often near the back, I'd to run with elbows out a fair bit, this time there were 10,000 people who finished after me!
Ticking off the landmarks in my peripheral vision I was concentrating on trying to keep my pace consistent and to keep the work rate up, at the same time telling myself that I could keep going even though my left leg was killing me - nothing that can't be fixed when I go to physio on Tuesday, but really sore all the same. 300m from the finish I heard John shout my name and I waved as I kept on going and worked hard to overtake as many people as I could in the last 250m, I honestly think I managed to overtake about 20 people just by keeping going. Job done, ticked off the list! Medal, space blanket, water, banana, beer, met John, picked up bag from luggage truck, passed the showers and changing rooms (yep seriously!!) then walked back to the hotel (the long way...)
We spent the next two days being tourists, cocktails, cake & wine in KaDeWe, La Boheme at the Deutsche Oper, running in the snow to the East Side Gallery, pizza at 12 Apostel then the third 'mishap' our train to the airport was delayed! (it didn't matter as we'd plenty of time) they say that things happen in threes :-)
We'd a great wee break, a decent run and more training miles in the bank. I thought about including photos of some traditional landmarks, but decided to share these instead as they made me smile