Pre Skate Race.
Results of the London Inline Half Marathon were similar for Theresa and I, so it only made sense for us to work together for the Berlin inline race. Our plan was to get through the skate, not to push too hard so our legs weren't too tired for the next day.
A sub 1:30:00 would be amazing, but that would be a personal best for me.
Berlin Inline Marathon:
I can't tell you how happy both Theresa and I were with that result. Knowing that we could have pushed harder still was great. I guess the run training gave positive parallels for the skate.
Pre Run Race.
Results of the Dublin Half marathon purely on statistics project that 4 hours would be possible. Runners know that it's not quite as simple as that. I have met a few first time marathon runner friends with similar hopes, but failed expectations. With a major race the day before around 4:15:00 would be more likely.
However I felt good after the skate, the sub 4 hours attempt is on!
Theresa worked out on a map that roughly noted what time we expected ourselves to be at various points. She did this so our friends who wanted to come support us could plan where they should be and at what time. However the three of us had very different running paces so it would be difficult for them to see all of us at each point.
The Run Marathon.
Forty thousand people for this race! So it was no surprise that the portaloos had massive queues. The stench from them were horrendous. It seems like there were different social rules with marathoners as you then saw men and women squatting in bushes. (Is that why they tell you to do squats for training?!).
The three of us were in block H, (although it was impossible to find Alan). Our block was for everyone who had a previous time of 4:15:00 or more; or no previous record. We could see the 4:15:00 pacemaker, but unfortunately the 4 hour pacemaker was in the block in front.
Music was working the crowds. Actually it was mainly Theresa and I who were dancing, I think other people were conserving energy! The atmosphere was great though.
As the buzzer went we hugged out and we both went out at our own pace.
It felt really good at the start and my heart rate wasn't too high. My speed was creeping up so I had to consciously slow down to not get carried away.
As the event went on it was easy to get influenced by the pace of the person in front, which quite often led to a slower pace than was required for a sub 4 hours. Therefore I had to keep checking my watch for my pace.
Crowds for the race was a lot bigger than the skate. A lot more bands too. This definitely made it more fun. I high fived everyone that I was near. Some went nuts when I did which fuelled me. My name was printed on my race bib so it was nice when they shouted your name, especially the little kids with their German accent.
It was so good to see familiar faces on course. As cliche as it sounds, it really makes a difference. I know this as I seem to speed up every time I recognise someone, so I had to slow down and channel that energy more conservatively.
As you can see in the above picture taken by my friend Mit that I was in fact enjoying the marathon at one point. Can't say this is a good representation of how I felt all the way! Later on when moral started to dip I did found it harder to acknowledge my friends. Instead of the crazy thumbs up, it was a murmur and reserved head nod.
YMCA. Now this is a little embarrassing to say but it's funny enough to mention.
So we've heard of people getting to the point of exhaustion that anything can set off your emotions. As I was running there was a brass band doing their rendition of YMCA, it reminded me of some silly singing I was doing at the dinner table with my family a few days before, I nearly welled up! 'Nearly,' I'd like to point out though!
It was a pretty hot morning and the sun was giving me a tan. Where possible I'd run in the shade but I noticed I was a lot more thirsty than on my recent autumnal British summer runs lately. I think this was adding to the exhaustion I was beginning to feel a little earlier than normal.
My energy gels seemed to be doing the trick, especially then caffeinated ones. However I did require one a little earlier than scheduled. This was the beginnings of my struggles.
Cramps started creeping in on the thighs (same ones that I felt on my skate sprint finish) plus the calf muscles. I changed my breathing to be longer and deeper, this fortunately sorted this out after fifteen minutes.
From kilometre 35 it just seemed to take forever to get to the 40k mark. I was no longer interacting with the crowds and was pretty much staring up at the clouds above wishing it all away. "Just keep going, push on through as it will be over in less than an hour," I told myself. I could feel everything inside me screaming to stop though!
Eventually 40k came at 03:51:36 and I realised that in my current state that a sub four hour would not be possible. I decided to in that case ease right off and try to enjoy the last 2k. With that pressure I put upon myself gone some of my senses switched back on and I began to smile at some of the runners who were calling out to their loved ones.
As I turned the corner for the final straight I could see Brandenburg Gate. The crowds thickened and they were all shouting out words of encouragement. 'Scream at my face,' I thought! They however called out my name which at that point made their support all the more personal and meaningful.
I took some photos before I passed through the bridge and just stood there for a while to soak up this powerful moment.
As I made my way through the gate I high fived people who got ecstatic which in turn empowered me. I signalled with my arms for more and they obliged with resonance that will stay with me forever.
With twenty metres to go I picked up speed and the adrenaline masked the feeling in my leg. Just before the finish someone fell and I went to help pick him up. On the video finish however I do have the feeling it was an intentional tactical roll, but didn't quite go so smoothly. In actual fact Theresa and I were discuss about our victory actions and the roll was something I'd thought about, but dismissed it as that's exactly how I thought it would turn out.
Instead my victory pose was pretending to use my asthma pump as a deodorant spray. This was like giving two fingers at my asthma as I once had to drop out of a school race because of it. On this day however I completed a marathon without needing a single draw on the drug.
I look so cool and collected in this photo but as I walked down, collect my medal and was handed my plastic blanket I could feel tears wanting to release again. I ducked my head into my blanket as I started to shiver. Slowly I went over to bag drop where I retrieved my bag and took out my medal from the day before. In less than twenty four hours I've just done two marathons!
I walked down proudly down the streets and my medals clanged together. Yes, hear my victory people.
I dropped my bag down to get changed and organised. However I found myself just staring at the ground for ages. So much was circling in my head...
Yes, it's finally over.
Berlin Run Marathon:
Top left is the video I took after crossing, I posted it right away and my Facebook feed went nuts. Also, top right is a screenshot of some of the congratulations. I am overwhelmed by the love and feel blessed for that.
I eventually found my friends who were out supporting us. Can't thank Flemming, Mit, Emily, Jason and Ceri enough, who I found first. They were so helpful when I wasn't thinking straight.
Also true to Mit's word he donated the minute I crossed the line from his phone! Cheers.
What an incredible journey for me both physically and mentally.
This weekend's experience is going to be hard to trump after getting a personal best on the Berlin Inline Marathon on the Saturday and completing my very first (and last) Berlin Run Marathon on the Sunday. I was totally blown away by the support I got from everyone before the race and during the weekend in particular. My fund target for Prostate Cancer UK was smashed too and at this moment it's close to being yet another kind of 'double.'
I've got to thank Theresa most of all as she got me running again through obstacle events. She got me to do Tough Mudder, which levelled up my run distance. Theresa then encouraged me to step up to this challenge and was there for me during training. We skated the marathon together and got a personal best before doing the distance all over again as a run. Having someone to share this journey with was amazing.
I'm glad to have done this but I won't be doing any more run marathons for the main reason that I've heard a lot of stories of long terms runners and their knee problems. My marathon was always intended as a one off. Training was also incredibly demanding for most of the year, it's the impact on social outings that I wasn't so keen on either. I'd still turn up to events but really I was ready to catch some z's.
People say I'll go looking for that sense of euphoria again. I guess I'm lucky that I can look for that in skating and obstacle runs.
Having said all that I did once say:
"I will never do another skate marathon again,' and
"I could never run a marathon."
Eating my words, tastes good....
Double Starters Rank (Doppelstarter)
25th of 76 men.
Berlin Inline Marathon:
Berlin Run Marathon:
"Any tips, reviews and advice are my own opinions and are not to be taken as professional view points. The information on this site is what has worked for me and is here for guidance only, but I hope you gain insight into the various activities I partake in." Jonathan Chen