Going through the memories, the marathon seems to be so far away yet it feels like it was yesterday.
On September 28, after a kick-off weekend in Regensburg, 18 weeks of training, many miles and a lot of doubts, I became a marathoner. But let’s start from the beginning.
On Friday, my mother and I made our way from Hamburg to Berlin. It’s funny how it takes less than 2 hours from one main station to the other, yet it had been 6 years since my last visit.
We found the hotel quite easily. It was a nice hotel with a pretty big room just 2 km away from the start and finish line. I was happy to see all the other runners that I had met during the weekend in Regensburg (read about it here, here and here). After catching up with the others, we went on a run through Tiergarten, where we first saw the finish line. That day, the finish of the Berlin Marathon seemed far away, yet, it was less than 2 days away.
The next morning, we went for another short shake out run. I felt good. I wasn’t nervous and my legs felt awesome. Suddenly, I couldn’t keep up with the others. I couldn’t breath. I stood between Reichstag and Spree and couldn’t breath, less than 24 hours before the marathon. I stood there all alone, letting the group run away. Just seconds before a panic attack, I remembered to calm down, and so I did. I slowly run back to the hotel, and hell yes, there were tears in my eyes.
The rest of the day was great. We went to the race expo, stood an hour in line for the race bib, visited our sponsors, and enjoyed a pasta party at the hotel. The night before my first marathon, I slept like a bear.
I woke up rested, but nervous. My stomach could not handle breakfast at all. With an unhappy stomach, we all met at the lobby to go to the start area together.
The start area was crowded. It took us girls almost an hour to get our bags to the right tent. When I got to the start, the top runners were already racing.
It took me about 30 minutes until I crossed the start line. Since I had never run a marathon before, I had to start in the last corral, but I didn’t expect it to take so long! The race was crowded from start to finish. I have never seen that many people run in so little space.
I saw the first people walking around km 5. Did these people really know what they signed up for? Did I knew? The first 10 km, I had the worst stomach cramps you can imagine. I tried to keep calm as much as possible. I ran slower, but running faster wasn’t possible anyways due to the crowded streets. I took my first gel after 50 minutes, and after I hit the 10km mark, I felt much better.
My body felt good again and I knew I could finish. I wanted to run faster, but the crowded streets didn’t allow it. The whole marathon was like running a super long and never-ending slalom around people who were running slower than me or were barely moving at all. There was a girl stretching her legs in the middle of the street!
There weren’t many spectator in the beginning, but around 11am, people came to cheer us on. Unfortunately, they stood on the streets, making the run area much smaller than necessary. I hate to say that, but I was annoyed quite often during the day.
Nevertheless, the crowded streets were good for something, too. It was hard to run “too fast”, so I was able to run an easy pace and never hit a wall. I gave up on any goal time I had anyways, since I had been injured for almost a month.
My main goal was to enjoy the race, so I focused on fun things like a group of “prisoners” I ran with for quite some time. I also loved that there were so many Danes running and cheering in Berlin. I loved running the Århus Halvmarathon a few month ago and hearing all the “Kom så Danmark!” calls made me smile for 42,2 km! There were a lot of band playing, too, and the volunteers did a great job!
If someone told me that I should run for 4,5 hours, I’d say they’re nuts. But the marathon didn’t seem to be that long, and time rushed. I never looked at what I still needed to run, I concentrated on the next water station or the next time I’d see my mother at the sides.
When I hit km 40, I couldn’t belive that this race and the training and everything else was coming to an end! On the other hand, I was quite happy, too. My feet were hurting since km 35.
I don’t know if you have ever ran a marathon yourself, but once you hit km 40, you are flying. At least I was. I ran through the Brandenburg Gate and across the finish line.
I am a marathoner!
The best part: all runners of our team finished their first marathon that day!
I finished in 4 hour, 28 minutes, and 28 seconds.
5025 of 8990 women.
611th out of 1081 in my age-group.