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Berlin Marathon - Run


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Berlin,
Germany
SCC Events
50F / 10C
Sunny
Total Time = 4h 10m 45s
Overall Rank = 18333/40000
Age Group = 45-50
Age Group Rank = 3635/
Pre-race routine:

Sharing a room with our friend Tom and of course my wife Colleen. Met our other friend, Brad at 6am in the hotel restaurant where I consumed some cereal, some eggs, a banana and some water.
Event warmup:

Walked a mile to the race site with Brad & Tom. It’s interesting what one see's on a Sunday morning stroll through the streets of Berlin at 6am. We passed what I would best describe as a shady-looking Disco bar where the patrons were still hanging around outside smoking cigarettes and drinking adult beverages. Let’s just say they looked a bit beat-up & worn out from the all night party session. That was awesome.
Run
  • 4h 10m 45s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 34s  min/mile
Comments:

I haven’t run a standalone marathon since Chicago 2009 (although I did do Ironman WI in 2012), so I was really looking forward to this race since signing up for it back in October of last year.

My 2013 was mostly about triathlon and I spent most of my summer biking and swimming without a huge focus on running. I didn’t start a real focus on my run until after the Door Country Half Ironman at the end of July. After that event I took running seriously.

I had done all my long runs (15,16, 18 & 20 milers) at a pace right around 9:00. This pace was fairly easy for me in both HR and RPE, so I felt pretty confident in easily matching that pace and most likely surpassing it at Berlin. I basically had three goals going into the race: 1) Finish, 2) Break 4 hours, 3) Shoot for 3:47.

Race morning rolls around and I was no longer very confident in goal #3 mainly because I had a lot of trouble adjusting to the European time change (which I always struggle with). I got horrible sleep on the plane Thursday and also bad sleep in the hotel both Friday and Saturday leading into the race. Furthermore, I was on my feet all day Friday and Saturday sight-seeing and by Saturday night, my feel actually hurt from all the walking. I knew none of that bode well for me going into Sunday if I wanted my best performance.

So I got to the start line without the kind of confidence I needed to excel. However, being stubborn I wasn’t going to change my plan until I started running and then adjust accordingly if needed. My goal was to stay with the 4:00 pace group until mile 15-17 and then I would start moving ahead like a super-hero. After the first 5 miles I was about 1 minute short of my goal, so all was good. However, at this same time I noticed my HR had never really come down like it normally does. It was still too high for the pace I was running (and definitely not in the normal zone where it normally sits). Mile 10 comes around and I am two minutes short of my goal time, which was still very acceptable to me, but my HR continued to stay elevated. I hit the halfway point at 1:57 which was good, but still a bit short of my 3:47 goal. I was happy with where I was, but I had this feeling in the back of my head that the race was not unfolding the way as my training runs had gone. I knew I needed to make some adjustments at this point, but I refused to do so. There were aid stations at every mile and I had water or Gatorade at every stop. In addition, I took about 4 gels over the course of the day (every 45’) and a total of 3 salt tablets during the race. I had no stomach issues at any point which was a big positive for me because normally I struggle with that.

At mile 15 I maintained pace and was still just a couple minutes behind goal. As a marathon “major” with 40-some thousand runners, the course was extremely congested and it seemed like it never really opened up at any point. At about mile 17 I was coming into the water station and someone cut in front of me quickly causing me to make a sudden lateral turn where I felt my calf ever so slightly cramp up. That was a message to me.

Miles 18-20 were tough and my pace had slowed a bit, but these miles are supposed to be tough and so I was okay with that. However, somewhere approaching mile 20 my right calf completely cramped up requiring me to stop and stretch. It took several minutes to start running again. Once I started running, I could tell the faster I ran the more it felt like it was going to cramp again. I ran maybe another mile at desired pace and it cramped up requiring more stretching. I eventually found if I reduced my pace to 10:00-10:30 I could run without it locking up. I kept this reduced pace until about mile 24 when out of nowhere my left hamstring cramped up badly which required a longer stop with a lot of stretching. Eventually I got that under control but could barely run anything faster than 10:30-11:00. So I hobbled through the Branderburg gate and the finish line as damaged goods with a time of 4:10.

Ultimately I finished the race and met goal #1, but most importantly I was proud of the way I handled the adversity thrown my way. Should I have slowed down earlier in the race knowing I was struggling? Yes, but I am not sure that would have given me much of a better overall time. I feel like I had the best race on that day that I could have had in light of all my issues. I know that I gave it my all and didn’t let off the throttle, so I am satisfied. Furthermore I got to spend a great weekend with friends and wouldn’t trade any of the sight-seeing, beers or fun for a better race time anyway. There will be plenty of opportunities for me to run a marathon where I am better prepared.
What would you do differently?:

Doing a marathon overseas is mentally and physically challenging for many reasons. I think in order for me to have the ideal race in Germany, I would have needed to arrive in Berlin a week early and adjust to the the time difference. I would have also have needed to rest more leading up to the race.
Post race
Warm down:

Lots of tightness in my legs after the race. I needed to spend a lot of time stretching before moving on to the feed area.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Traveling overseas and being a "tourist". All on me.

Event comments:

Berlin was a special, very cool event and I understand why it is a Marathon Major. The course is awesome, the fans are great, the volunteers and aid stations are all top notch. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Germans and they delivered a superior product as usual. GREAT race.


Profile Album


Last updated: 2012-11-08 12:00 AM
Running
04:10:45 | 26.2 miles | 09m 34s  min/mile
Age Group: 3635/
Overall: 18333/40000
Performance: Below average
Course: More or less a giant loop around the city of Berlin.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Bad
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

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2013-10-07 3:31 PM

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Expert
1121
1000100
Menomonee Falls, WI
Subject: Berlin Marathon


2013-10-07 4:57 PM
in reply to: #4872541

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Expert
1544
100050025
Alexandria, MN
Subject: RE: Berlin Marathon
Nice job out there and great race report. My wife and I are signed up for the lottery going into next year, so I'm keeping an eye out for race reports!
2013-10-08 2:24 PM
in reply to: Climbinggonzo

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Expert
1121
1000100
Menomonee Falls, WI
Subject: RE: Berlin Marathon

It's a great race and you'll enjoy it if you get in through the lottery.  Good luck!

2013-10-08 7:07 PM
in reply to: sbsmann

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Expert
1544
100050025
Alexandria, MN
Subject: RE: Berlin Marathon
We'd better get in, it's part of our quest to do all 6 majors next year! We're guaranteed in NYC, but now several of the other majors are going to lotteries so we're not sure what will happen.
2013-10-09 7:31 AM
in reply to: Climbinggonzo

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Expert
1121
1000100
Menomonee Falls, WI
Subject: RE: Berlin Marathon

Originally posted by Climbinggonzo We'd better get in, it's part of our quest to do all 6 majors next year! We're guaranteed in NYC, but now several of the other majors are going to lotteries so we're not sure what will happen.

Yeah, the whole lottery thing is a bummer.  I'm sure if they had that system last year, it would have been tough for all three of us to get in the same year and plan our trip.  Good luck in your quest of knocking out the BIG 6!

2013-10-10 7:38 AM
in reply to: #4872541

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Menomonee Falls, WI
Subject: RE: Berlin Marathon

  "Furthermore I got to spend a great weekend with friends and wouldn’t trade any of the sight-seeing, beers or fun for a better race time anyway.  There will be plenty of opportunities for me to run a marathon where I am better prepared. "

Well said! And even with all the sightseeing and beers, you set a PR!  So, I'm guessing Tokyo is going to be out of the question? :-)



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